5 Tips to Prevent Ministry Burnout

You went into ministry with a passion to serve people and lead them to Christ. You knew that would require diligent work and would likely involve some heartache. We live in a messy, fallen world so dealing with people in their mess and helping them get out of it isn’t an easy endeavor. Working with limited time and resources, combined with the overwhelming needs of your community can wear out the most dedicated individual.

At times, I’ve felt completely unqualified to handle the responsibilities entrusted to me. My to-do list was always longer than the time available and, over time, I was burning out. I cared about the people I was trying to serve, but I had to drag myself into the office each day. Living on caffeine and the adrenaline rush of the next deadline wasn’t sustainable for long. Looking back on that season and combined with what I’ve learned over the last several years, here are five tips to prevent burnout:

Tip #1: Delegate

Delegate to whom? Great question. Even if you don’t have any staff reporting to you, you still have delegation options. You may have individuals within your congregation who could help a few hours a week with administrative tasks. Delegate the easier stuff first – tasks that take up your time but don’t require much training to pass on to someone else. Another option could be a virtual assistant. You can contract out certain tasks and pay for the hours you need.

Tip #2: Prioritize

While it may feel like it, not everything is urgent and important. End each day by creating a to-do list for the next day. You close out that day’s work and set yourself up for a solid start the next. Recognize up front that you’ll never really get to the end of your to-do list. This isn’t accepting defeat; it’s facing reality. Prioritize your list and work on the highest impact, most valuable tasks first.

Tip #3: Disconnect

Turn off your cell phone and stop checking email after a certain time each day. You need a few hours each evening to decompress, spend time with your family and friends, and recharge. Let your colleagues know what you’re doing and who they can call in case of an emergency. By the way, you probably need to define “emergency” as “the church is on fire” or “someone passed away”.

Tip #4: Sabbath

Take one day a week to do absolutely nothing related to your job. Play with your kids, take your spouse out on a date, go for a jog, sleep in, etc. Rest and invest in activities that restore your mind, body, and soul. You’ll be more effective and productive later as a result.

Tip #5: Recognize

Your talents and abilities are valuable in ministry. Do your best and pursue excellence as you serve. At the same time, recognize that God is still on His throne and He can handle all that weight you’re trying to carry on your shoulders. We weren’t designed to handle everything. We were designed to depend on and get our strength from God. Trust Him to provide wisdom and provision.

Burnout doesn’t have to be part of your story. There’s no easy answer or quick fix here. However, I’m convinced it is possible to have a healthy, sustainable job in ministry.

How do you recharge and prevent burnout?