Avoiding ministry burn out

We have all been there and done that. We have gotten a burst of inspiration and decided to do everything we can all at once to “change the world” or “make a difference”. Unfortunately we usually burn out long before the world is changed and some huge difference is made.

The longer I live the more convinced I am that the greatest things any of us can do for God are:

  1. Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength

  2. Adore God with every ounce of our being

  3. Love our spouse, children and parents

  4. Live God's love, manifest God's power and speak God's Word to others

Far too many times we feel that we must do more and more things to prove we love God. Far too many times we sacrifice our relationship with Him to “save the world” or be the “last man standing”. Far too many times we get hung up trying to do too much at the expense of doing what God wants us to do.

Perhaps there are some who are genuinely called by God to stand before the multitudes and preach the Gospel regularly. Perhaps there are some who are called by God to travel constantly to the uttermost parts of the earth to speak God’s Word. Perhaps there are some who are called by God to work 80 hour weeks 52 weeks per year as they build their ministry. I say PERHAPS to all of these things for I am not persuaded they are really true.

I went from being a rising star in the ministry about to land one of the top assignments in the country to being in the doghouse and ultimately leaving the ministry in a matter of three years 30 years ago. Looking back, the reason for my failure was simply that I became so busy in the work of the Lord I forgot the Lord I worked for. I mistook activity for accomplishment and being busy for being productive. In the end, I burned out and crashed.

Our first three priorities in life revolve around love: Loving God our Father with all of our heart, loving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with all of our heart and loving our spouse and children as we love our Lord Jesus. People (even the strongest of them) get into trouble and fail when they put ministry before family or service before worship. God has to be first in our lives or we are doomed to failure, either immediately or in the long run.

Six years I was full of enthusiasm and embarked on what I believed to be God’s will for my life. I drove and flew all over the United States for six months being gone for extended periods of time and spending money I did not have. Mistaking activity for accomplishment, I thought I was doing a good job for the Lord. In reality, I was far removed from His will and ended up sick, heartbroken and broke.

Always remember that the absolute greatest thing any of us can do in this life is to love and adore our God with all of our heart. Unless what we do in ministry is built upon our strong relationship with God, what we will do is doomed to failure and we are doomed to wake up one day broken and ashamed at our foolishness.

K Reynolds @kreynolds ·

I'm facing this sort of thing at the moment. Rushing about doing what I believe to have been "good ideas" (and they are), I have found myself in a spot where I don't want to be. None of the things I am doing are "wrong" in themselves. The problem is, am I taking on things which God has never asked me to take on.

Physically and mentally, I am no longer capable of doing some of the things I am trying to do. Yes, God does help us do things He has called us to do. I believe that and I have certainly experienced Him doing so. However, when we dart off, even with good intentions, the fact still remains we are servants who are trying to do the jobs of others instead of or in addition to our own. What a mess! We often end up tired, frustrated and joyless and we have done no one, including ourselves, any good. Sigh...

Thanks for the timely blog!


K :princess:

Joanne Douglas @jdjames ·

no doubt the thief seeks to steal our time, resources and energy, that we all may trip up. Did the same with many years of involvement with a ministry that was more about men than God. There were so many meetings I was exhausted. I started to call it "Bible in a box" because outreach had withered as the same people kept having meetings rather than being out in those fields. Could be someone on line while you pick up coffee needs to be saved, we don't all have to travel far and wide, some can and do. So like you, I found I had to first love God. I give Him my first hours of the day reading the word, praying and praising Him and writing what ever He directs and inspires. thank you for opening up this very important discussion as so many of us struggle with what is our job (for God). God bless. jd

Jacob Mow @personal ·

Yes. I love the list and I will remember my duty as a Christian man.

-Composed by me.

Larry Hashman @pastorlarry ·

I know exactly where you are coming from, friend. I stepped down as an associate pastor of a church about 1 year ago because my time spent there, plus the time spent on my 40-hour-per-week job (as the ministry was unpaid) was placing too much of strain on my marriage; my wife, who is disabled, often had to stay home and we were being drawn apart. In my farewell to the church, I told them that God lifts marriage to a higher calling than ministry, that while we are all to be representatives of Christ, our spouses are gifts from a loving Lord and we have the responsibility to not allow anything to separate that which God has joined together, even if that "thing" is a good thing, such as ministry. My wife and I now attend another church where there isn't the pressure to minister; ironically, we often find ourselves ministering in love to people in and out of church, in our neighborhood and in our community in ways we didn't have the time or the stamina to do before. God is indeed wise in all He does!

Do not include honorifics.

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