Preventing Burnout

     I felt like the Lord gave me a specific Word this past week for anyone that serves the Lord in a ministry that may be suffering symptoms of burnout. Please pray often for those that lead in ministries. Did you realize that South Carolina leads the nation in forced ministerial resignations and pastor suicide? I encourage you to stop and pray for the men and women of God that serve in your church today.

     In first Kings Chapter 18 Elijah had boldly stood against over 800 prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. He had prayed and God had sent fire from heaven. It was an incredible movement of God. Elijah and the people had an incredible mountaintop experience. But in the very next chapter, Elijah is so weary and worn down that he is hiding in a cave. Have you ever felt like Elijah? In 1 Kings Chapter 19 we see several familiar signs of burnout.

  • Bad decisions – Elijah has stood against 850, and yet now he’s running from one woman. We do things when we are tired that we would normally never do. Have you ever made a costly decision solely based on exhaustion?
  • Isolation – Elijah retreated into isolation. He did not want to be around anyone. Have you ever felt like that you cannot take one more email or text? Have you ever felt like that if one more person requires your attention that you might explode.
  • Resignation – Elijah told God he was tired and didn’t care to do this anymore. Have you ever felt like it might be time for you to do something else?

However, we also see several keys to overcoming burn out:

  • Rest (19:5,6)– Noticed that Elijah was so tired that he fell asleep twice. It is so important in ministry to recharge our batteries. It’s important to make sure we are getting enough rest. We need to take time for vacation, and when we go on vacation to actually be on vacation. The worst thing we can do is to be on our phones while we’re out on the beach with our family. Sometimes we think we are irreplaceable. That is a lie of the enemy. If the ministry falls apart if we are gone it is due to pride and poor planning. Elijah tries to tell God how important he is twice in verses 10 and 14. But God reminds Elijah and us that he will accomplish his will with or without any person. God was in control the whole time.
  • Refreshment (19:6,7)– God made him a meal twice. Most times in ministry we are pouring out. It is so important that we allow God to pour back in. Otherwise, we will get to a point where we have nothing to pour out and offer anybody. Notice in the second part of verse 7 what God says – The journey is too much for you. In other words, if you continue on this track, you will not make it. It is so important in ministry that we stay in the Word – and not just for the benefit of others.
  • Return to God’s Presence (8) – Elijah returned to the presence of God. Mount Horeb was the place where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. It was a place of meeting God. It is to be still and know that he is God. It is sitting at his feet and listening for His words. And it was when Elijah was still before the Lord that he once again heard that still small voice. Is it possible that you have been moving so fast that it’s been a while since you could hear that voice?
  • Recomission (19:15-18) – Elijah received a Fresh word from the Lord. He got a new anointing, a fresh power. When was the last time you received a fresh word from the Lord? And part of that new information was that God was sending him a helper in an Elisha. Who could be your Elisha? Who could help you fulfill God’s purpose and calling in your ministry? Pray for God to send you an Elisha. 
     I am certainly not any expert on this subject. This is something I consistently struggle with and continually have to bring before the Lord. What else would you add to the subject of preventing burnout?  Would love your thoughts and insight!