Battling Ministry Burnout

A while back I received an email from a listener to our Moving Forward radio program who was struggling with burnout, resentment, and overall fatigue in her service to the Lord. She had a servant’s heart and she even felt a degree of disappointment with herself because of the feelings she had. But, despite her own desires to let go of the resentment and her prayers to lay the situation before the Lord, the feelings kept returning.

I think most followers of Christ can identify with her.

It’s really easy for us to become resentful when we’re doing the right things, even in our service to the Lord. We start to focus on the work we’re doing and how much energy it takes us, or we start to focus on the people we’re serving and their lack of appreciation, and suddenly, our service becomes drudgery and misery. So, what do we do? I would give you the following suggestions:

Renew your focus. Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God ” (NKJV).  When our eyes are on Jesus, He will give us strength, stamina, and joy in enduring in our service.

Adjust the span of your service. It’s very instructive that Peter writes: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10, NKJV). The word “gift” is singular. This does not mean that Christians only have one gift or that we should be involved in one and only one area of ministry in the church. It does serve as a caution against saying yes to every opportunity for service. Some Christians are guilty of doing too much. Every believer is called to do something, but no one is called to do everything! 

Take a break occasionally. When the disciples returned from a time of intense and fruitful service to the Lord, Jesus told them “’Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31, NKJV). Every servant of the Lord needs to take seasons of rest and relaxation. You may need to take some time off of serving to recharge your batteries and to refresh your own spirit.

Keep your goal in your mind and heart. The Bible instructs us: “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV). Notice that one of the motivations to keep from growing weary as we serve is remembering that a harvest will come. Anytime we serve, there’s a goal. That goal is ultimately the glory of God.

Today, if you’re experiencing the beginnings of burnout or if you’re in full-grown battle fatigue from ministry and service, take a moment to reflect on the Word of God, and consider what steps God would have you take in the immediate future to rejuvenate your own soul.

Have a great day, and keep moving forward!

Suggested Bible Reading

Psalm 46

Prayer Guide

Today, ask that God will give you His renewal …

As He reminds you of who He is.

As He leads you to a place of stillness and rest.

As He shows you that His refuge never fails.

As He empowers you simply to be His child, in addition to being His servant.