Self-help. Self-care. Treat yourself.
Ideas about how to relax and get a little perspective are everywhere. But don’t let the ubiquity of the movement distract you: Burnout is real, and it really happens to pastors and marketplace professionals alike. And the danger isn’t limited to a lack of downtime. The work, your vocation, is on the line. We talked to a few leaders about what to do.
Sleep is an embodied prayer that declares our trust in God. Simply going to bed may seem like weak advice to help pastors avoid burnout, but in our screen-saturated world, it might just be one of the most important — and overlooked — spiritual disciplines we could embrace. It’s not enough to just recognize that we are not God; we need to go further and identify what we really are — humans. We are not machines that can be optimized for endless efficiency. While we can grow in productivity, we cannot hack ourselves out of humanity. Unlike machines, we need things like food, sleep, beauty, community, safety, and variety. We are not being honest with ourselves, nor honoring our creator, when we fail to attend to the good gift of sleep.
Jim Mullins, pastor of theological and vocational formation for Redemption Church and director of the Faith, Work, and Rest Initiative for the Surge Network
Two tips for avoiding burnout: (1) Keep in mind that some tasks must be completed today; others can wait until tomorrow. And (2) let opportunities come to you; don't go searching for more things to do.
Luke Bobo, contributing editor
I attempt to cultivate patterns of worship, fellowship, and service that stimulate generative disequilibrium personally and among friends, colleagues, and neighbors. These patterns hopefully empower me to bear gospel fruit as I learn, struggle, mature, love, and walk joyfully in Christ. My shorthand is Abide, Connect, Imagine, and Negotiate in Christ. There is literature about emphasizing health and wellbeing as opposed to emphasizing affliction and burnout. This approach basically asks: What is keeping us well? And what do we already have? And ideally is held in tension with asking, Why are we struggling? And what do we need?
Donald Guthrie, executive director of the Center for Transformational Churches and director of the Ph.D. (educational studies) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School