If you have been in ministry for any length of time at all, you have more than likely experienced it. Few like to admit. Fewer even see it coming. Burn Out. Burn out occurs when people are overworked, under appreciated, and don’t stop to rest. For some reason, ministry carries this stigma that you are just supposed to run full speed ahead and never stop to take a breath. That, however, is found no where in scriptures. In fact, quite the opposite is found.
From the beginning of time God has set the example of taking breaks to rest and breath. The scriptures say in Genesis 2:1-3 “So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” If God Himself rested (when he didn’t need to being all powerful) then why do we think we don’t need to? He did this to set the example for us!
But if you take a break, everything will fall apart! Believe it or not, life will go on… I have heard it said that many churches obey the 80/20 rule when it comes to church tasks. That being, 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people. I have actually experienced that first hand myself as well. That’s when I realized I wasn’t as successful of a disciple maker as I thought I was. When you focus on discipleship people will step up. Too many pastors take it upon themselves to perform clerical work, sermon prep and deliverance, hospital visits, nursing home visits, in home visits, marital council, officiating weddings and funerals, go to countless meetings, etc. You see the point? Many times we over-extend ourselves doing things we aren’t gifted in just to get them done. Thats not what I see the scriptures teach. 1 Corinthians 12:12 says “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ.” If you are doing all or most of the work maybe its time to look into your discipleship strategy because clearly other followers aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. Focus on your gifts and equip others who are gifted in other areas to do everything else.
Take a break! When was the last time you stayed home (or away) from a church gathering on a Sunday? I want to encourage you to equip someone to fill in once and a while and you just get away. Don’t have someone preach and then you just show up. I mean GET AWAY! Go fishing, hike a mountain, go hunting, go to a football game, sleep in and take your wife on a day trip somewhere. I don’t care what it is you do; just do it away from the church gathering! I suggest to pastors I come in contact with that suffer from burn out is to do this every month with a 5th Sunday. That means 4 Sundays a month you get away. For instance, in 2016 there a 5 Sundays on 1/31/2016, 5/29/2016, 7/31/2016, and 10/30/2016.
No matter how you do it, just do it! Get away. Take a breather. Get some rest. Relax. When you do, I think you will be surprised at how refreshed you will be. You might even be surprised by how well things went while you were gone and how well others stepped up in your church body.