I’m a hypocrite. It’s true. I pride myself on being highly administrative and I even teach others how to be organized and efficient, but I have a confession to make. For all of my list, day planners, productivity apps and fancy office supplies, I cannot make a grocery list to save my life. CORRECTION: I cannot use a grocery list to save my life. I actually make them all the time. I have one on my fridge. I have a sticky note on my kitchen counter. I have an entire spreadsheet with my pantry inventory and I also use my iPhone calendar reminders for those times when I remember that our lack of toilet paper is at DEF CON 5. Yet, when I walk through the doors of the grocery store, it’s like another person takes over my body. For some reason, I become five-years-old and I just start throwing things in my cart that I think I will need. And then, like magical breadcrumbs, one of the items reminds me of something I actually need which leads to another item and so on. And somehow by the end of my shopping experience, I will have amazingly acquired all of my necessary items…minus the toilet paper. (Yes. I am the reason why stores create frequent shopper cards.)
So what does my unorthodox grocery shopping have to do with burnout? I believe it all comes down to the heart. I have always been a person who leads more with my heart than with my head. Some might not agree with this methodology, but somewhere along the way I was taught that when a heart is surrendered to the Father’s will, that heart begins to look like His heart, and in this you cannot go wrong. Not saying that I am perfect by any means, but I’d much rather err on the side of a love-lead life over list-bound life.
Leading from the heart is not always easy. And, in fact, it may be more painful at times. However, it is incredibly rewarding. Leading from the heart affords you the opportunity to do things you might otherwise miss out on. Most importantly, it allows you to be present in the moment, which I believe is an essential practice for anyone looking to avoid burnout.
After working for a large ministry for many years, I know what it’s like to experience burnout first hand. My burnout usually expressed itself in the form of a breakdown where I would just cry for a long time and curl up on the couch in front of the TV for a couple days. Afterwords, I would just go back into my routine as if nothing ever happened. Since then I have realized that “burnout” is not limited to “the ministry,” nor is it merely caused by those factors that normally get blamed, i.e., overworked and underpaid.
Obviously, every person who has experienced burnout has a different story to tell, but I believe each story is connected by a common thread…honesty. At some point, those of us who got burned out stopped being honest with ourselves. Being honest with yourself allows you to be present in those moments that matter. Being honest gives you the freedom to say, “Something isn’t right about this situation. I need to seek out the answer.”
When we stop being honest with ourselves and those around us, we take the risk of shrinking into ourselves for the sake of looking like someone we think others want us to be. That is not to say that we should just walk around telling everyone else they are wrong about everything. There is certainly a healthy, biblical way to handle tough situations; however, many of us miss out on these possibilities when we quit listening to our hearts.
So, in preparation for the Easter season, here are seven keys to help you avoid burnout and actually enjoy your work. (No matter how crazy it gets.)
- Be honest (With God, with yourself and those around you.)
- Be present in the moment.
- Breathe (Seriously. Sometimes it’s a forced discipline.)
- Ask yourself, “Do I really understand what is being asked of me?” (If not, then clarify.)
- Declare God’s promises over your situation.
- Take inventory of the resources you have available to you. (Time, money, people, supplies, already-formatted-worship-slides, etc…)
- Leave some room for the Holy Spirit to work things out.
Remember, Easter is about bringing the dead to life. If ever there was a reason to celebrate, this would be it. Don’t let yourself miss out on the celebration for the sake of “burnout.” Be honest, be present, breathe and celebrate!