Avoid burnout and recharge your mind, body, and spirit by creating healthy boundaries and rhythms this summer.
So, I’m writing to help you do less. Be a little more lazy. Most of you reading this are seriously dedicated to your calling. If you’re taking the time to read blogs on ministry, especially a post on burnout, you likely give a lot of yourself to those you serve. And you probably need a break.
Do More. Be More. Or Maybe Not.
Many of us have learned that in order to do a good job we must just keep pushing harder. You need to do more and be more. But, what if that isn’t true? What if you’re already enough and you actually need to do less?
Laziness. That’s a word that our Puritan work ethic has shunned. Maybe I’m not really talking about laziness. Perhaps what I’m getting at is restfulness. How, in this season of summer, might you invite restfulness into your life? And how might a habit of restfulness sustain you this coming program year?
We’ve put together a list of three simple ways for you to be lazy, ahem, restful. So, you can avoid burnout and thrive along with your ministry. How do you plan to rest this summer? Share with all of us in the comments below!
3 Ways to Avoid Burnout
Take a regular sabbath. Many ministry leaders these days are under pressure to build a ministry, raise the numbers, and in a general sense, to fight against the tide that so many churches are facing. The work is never done. This isn’t a 9-5 job with tasks that can just be left on the desk when it’s time to go home.
It can be difficult to carve out space for rest in this landscape. This may seem counter-intuitive to some. But in ministry, hours can be all over the place and our time often gets away from us. So, fencing in a day for sabbath takes intention.
On the day or even half day, you choose as sabbath, make space for the things you love to do. Shoot some hoops, garden, try that new brewery, go for a walk, eat out with a friend, catch up on that show.
Whatever and whenever you choose, make it something that feeds your soul. This energizes you for the week ahead and protects you from burnout.
Disconnect. Ministry is so much about connecting. You strive to connect with people and their stories. And you spend time learning to connect to the story God is telling, paying attention to your gifts and sense of calling. Not only that, but you connect life and culture to scripture and to those who have gone before, bridging wisdom with what’s here and upcoming.
If you’re in ministry, you likely love all this connection. It gives you joy and life. But, it drains you, too. And while you’re busy connecting to everything out there, you can lose track of connecting to what’s inside.
So, learn to disconnect, so you can reconnect.
Turn off your phone after a certain hour. Make it clear when you aren’t available. Refer students and their families to others when their needs go beyond your scope. When you’re away on vacation, turn off push notifications.
This all gives you space to connect to yourself and God by attending to your own feelings and needs. If you learn this art, not only will you avoid burnout but you’ll also minister to others in a more healthy, mindful way.
Get out of town. A change of scenery definitely helps prevent burnout. First, it’s harder to say yes to things you don’t absolutely need to do. Second, being away means people are more likely to leave you alone. Third, going out of town is fun!
Go somewhere beautiful. Beauty brings to life parts of us that give us inspiration and energy. It doesn’t matter where you go. We all define beauty differently, so just go where you feel alive. It could be a restaurant with lovely plating, a museum filled with art you adore, or a lushly wooded park.
We all need space and silence in a place where we can rediscover parts of ourselves that have gone dormant. Work and life are hard to balance. We get busy and into ruts. A shift in environment breaks the cycles and routine, so we pay attention to what’s going on in our hearts and minds.
Sometimes getting away shows us what we hadn’t noticed. Maybe you realize how exhausted you’ve been. Or maybe a new idea emerges. Or perhaps you’re re-invigorated by the memories you make with your family.
Getting “out of town” can mean a ten-minute drive to a new restaurant or to a hotel where you lounge by the pool and sleep in late. Or it can be a plane trip to visit a dear friend or a cruise to some exotic location. The where and how far doesn’t matter as much as the act of simply making it a priority. Enjoy the excuse to escape no matter where you’re headed.
You’re often so busy telling everyone else they matter, you forget that you do, too. So, let me remind you.
You matter. And your body and your well-being matter. Learn to value yourself enough to practice the art of restfulness. No one else will do this for you.
Your ministry will run you into the ground if you let it. But, you don’t have to allow that.
Take this summer to honor the you that God so lovingly made by caring for your needs. Do less. It’s your homework.
Oh, and don’t forget to tell us how you’re caring for yourself this summer. We’d love to know!