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How to Recognize and Recover from Burnout

Burnout is when you are completely empty. You are spiritually, physically, and emotionally poured out. There is nothing left to offer. Not surprisingly, this condition is common in pastors. In fact, we all have experienced some degree of burnout. If, however, you are consistently or persistently empty and would describe your condition as burnout, you are in danger. Here are some ways to recognize burnout.
Ten Danger Signals
Your devotional life is suffering.
Your family life is being adversely affected.
You have a nagging sense of ever being behind.
You find yourself with a low threshold for inconvenience.
Sabbath rest is the exception rather than the norm.
You experience a sense of overall weariness.
Physical exercise is sporadic or nonexistent.
Physical ailments are increasing.
The sense of serving God with gladness is gone.
You fight periodic thoughts of fleeing from the will of God.
If any of the conditions listed above is consistently present in your life, you need help. Talk to a Godly friend or a trusted associate. Even though it is important that you not try to bear all this burden alone, here are some tips to help you emerge from burnout.
Ten Insights
Wait on God as a necessity, not a nicety.
See the home as the launching pad for all public ministry.
Recognize the need for supportive relationships.
Remember that character must precede charisma.
Commit yourself to build for permanence.
Learn to plan, delegate, and manage your time.
Plan time off carefully and creatively.
Be released to say no.
Make exercise and proper nutrition an integral part of your life.
Stay in your "sphere" and resist the snare of comparison.
The Road to Recovery
Confess to God: "I can't!" Let yourself off the hook. Don't beat yourself up.
Embrace the pain. Don't fight it (Rom. 5:1-5).
Everything that happens can be used of God to prepare and strengthen you (Rom. 8:28).
Find a safe environment in which to share your feelings on a regular basis. Feelings will express themselves eventually. Choose to express them in healthy, voluntary ways. Don't wait for them to erupt in emotional outbursts, burnout, and physical ailments.
Find a trusted support group or a compassionate counselor who knows how to listen without giving foolish and unwanted advice. Discipline yourself to share weekly with this person. Pray together. Let this person share positive insights when you can see only the negatives.
Learn not to share with wounders. Some will use information you share to hurt you.
Feed your weakened spirit. Include books, tapes, recreation, heroes.
When you can't praise God, be honest. God desires "truth in the inward parts" (Ps. 51:6).
Take time for fun.
Eat nutritionally balanced meals and rest.
It may be impossible for you to rest on Sunday, but you need a day of rest sometime during the week.
(Adapted from Larry Tomczak, Burnout or Burn-On).

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