Burnout. It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t play favorites.
It can strike your pastor, professor, your neighbor, young and old alike. And, it can take you down too—if you’re not careful.
I know. I’m just making my way back into the light.
I wish I could say this is the first time I’ve experienced the poisoning effects of burnout, but it isn’t. However, this time I’ve learned a thing or two. Or, at least I pray I have.
The key is not only to remember what I’ve learned, but to put protective barriers in place so this beast doesn’t take me down again.
Here’s the irony, I’m a life coach and I didn’t heed the warning signs—the same cautionary signs I’ve alerted my clients to for years.
It’s not that I didn’t think I was immune to burnout. The simple fact is I got lazy—or, I guess you could say became prideful. Ouch, that hurts!
Here are a few lessons I’ve recently learned:
- First, I placed unrealistic expectations on myself. I became self-reliant. And, I took on the role of savior; rather than trusting the One True Savior—Jesus Christ.
When I finally got quiet a few weeks ago, God made it abundantly clear, “I Am God, Susan. You are not.”
I began to see every need as my responsibility, rather than asking for God’s wisdom and direction.
- Secondly, I stopped listening to my own body. I had been saying for weeks, “I’m exhausted.” What more did I need? I was saying it. And, my body was screaming it!
Yet, I stopped caring for myself. And, I failed to accept God’s rest.
Whether it’s a lack of self-care or a stubborn self-reliance, burnout stems from a basic lack of understanding, or in my case forgetting, the character of God and His expectations for my life.
- Thirdly, I forgot to tap into the greatest resource I have—namely, The Holy Spirit. I stopped asking for direction and confirmation in what tasks to say “yes” to.
I failed to heed my own advice and to remember, “No.” is a complete sentence. You and I aren’t required to explain why we’re not able to accept an engagement or to take on one more task. We can simply say, “Sorry, I’m not available.” Even if that means you’ve blocked out the day simply to rest.
- The fourth lesson I’ve learned is I must remain focused on Jesus and look to Him alone to fill me. Just like John 15 explains, I must stay connected to the Vine. All my nourishment and vitality comes from abiding—being closely attached to God.
When I look to anyone or anything else to provide me with what only He can, I will always ‘wither up and dry’—I am merely a branch and I must stay connected to the Vine—my Source of Sustenance.
- Finally, the only way to recover from burnout is by resting—entering a restful timeout with God. For me, that meant taking an extended period of time where I said, “No.” to the outside world, and “yes” to caring for myself. In my case, I had to put the mask back on so I could live—and hopefully thrive again.
I can already hear some of you saying, “I can’t afford to do that.” Well, perhaps you can’t; or, perhaps you can’t afford not to.
Burnout, in most cases, is a choice. There is nothing healthy or spiritual about “burning out for God.”