Ministry Burnout

Ministry Stress and Burnout

By Jill Briscoe

Have you ever felt like a pooped prophet? Perhaps you have been diligently serving the Lord, but just doing too much of everything – running around and round in circles, until eventually you’ve met yourself coming back. Suddenly it all overwhelms you. If this is the case, watch out! You could end up flat on your face under a broom tree, just like Elijah.

It is one thing to be tired “in” the work of the Lord; it is quite another to be tired “of” the work itself. There is a difference, you know. When Elijah said, “ I’ve had it, Lord,” he meant it!

So the question is: how can we live tired and live well, so we don’t end up running on empty and all stressed out?

Sometimes the Lord’s answer to our dilemma is a physical one. Many a time I have been flat on my face under my own broom tree, God has sent some practical expression of love to remind me that He cares. I have eaten not a few hot cakes from the hand of God in my time.

Once when this happened I had been traveling for two weeks straight. Somehow the tight schedule allowed only time for talking and not much for eating! Whenever it was mealtime, I found myself in one more airplane. On this particular day it was hot, it was summer, and I was tired and very hungry. My flight had been delayed, and by the time I arrived at the next conference center, I discovered that my hosts had gone to bed. I wandered around the dining room, hoping to find something to eat, but all the doors into the kitchen had been locked. “Lord,” I prayed, “I really don’t care what I eat, but I need something – and while I’m talking to you about this, I’ve got a yearning for peaches! Oh, for a lovely, refreshing, juicy peach!” Then I smiled. That was just the sort of prayer I counseled others against offering! I sighed, picked up my bags, and went to my assigned cabin.

When I arrived at my room, there were my hot cakes baked on coals! A basket of peaches sat on the doorstep smiling at me! I lifted them up and felt my loving Lord’s smile. Never before or since have I received a whole basked of delicious, fresh peaches. But He who was waiting round the corner of my desert met and provided a sweet touch that reminded me of His great love.

When you find yourself exhausted, burned out, stressed – look around for the hot cakes. If you take your time, you’ll smell the bread and be reminded of His care by some practical expression of concern through one of His children.

Notice, God did not feed His exhausted servant bitter herbs in order to punish him. He did not beat the already beaten man with a ministry stick and shout, “On your feet, you stupid coward, and share the four spiritual laws with Jezebel.” The Bible simply says that God touched Elijah with the loving words, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you” (I Kings 19:7).

When I lose my perspective on life because I’m stressed and running on empty, I can lose my perspective on God Himself. I need to be still and feel His loving touch and hear Him say to me, “Go to sleep, rest awhile the journey is too great for you.” Actually, I am the sort of person who always seems to need permission to go to sleep – to relax, to walk the fields, smell the flower, or recuperate. Unless “have fun” is entered on my weekly schedule, I’ll never have it!

Does that sound familiar? Has the journey suddenly become too great for you? Not because everything is all wrong with your relationship with God, but because everything has been all right and you’ve simply run yourself into the ground? What swept you off your feet and sent you hurrying away from your responsibilities? Actually, it matters not what did it, but only Who waits for you with hot cakes and cool water for your hungry, thirsty soul, assuring you of His love and great concern for your well-being.

A life in ministry presents its own unique stress and challenge. The tasks of ministry and the needs of people can be emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausting. Before you get too discouraged remember that God promises you His strength will always match any responsibility, however overwhelming it might seem. He says, “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24), and he encourages Paul by saying, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul adds, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  Our articles have been written with you in mind.  Please take a look and know that we are listening, encouraging and praying for you.    

Do you ever feel like you are using all your talent, energy, and “know how” to minister to others? Yet inwardly, have your passions, dreams for the future, and feelings of vibrancy fallen asleep? more

Spiritual Health

Whether it’s at home, in our ministries, or in any other area of our lives, we long for balance. How can we stay ignited and have a bright flame without getting burned or burning out? more

Ministry Life

As women in ministry, our schedules are packed. The demands on our time are endless and the needs of people around us are continuous. How do we break free from a life that's too full? more

Women's Ministry

Caring for our souls is the only way to not find ourselves empty or just surviving. We must do whatever it takes to maintain the wellness of our souls. more

Spiritual Health

What do you do when you are running on empty? A ministry workaholic discovers a secret that turns ministry stress and burnout into joy. more

Ministry Life

Christian leaders know all too well the overwhelming trials that contribute to ministry exhaustion. But God can use adversity to keep you spiritually fresh. more

Ministry Life

Are you weary in your ministry? Learn how to truly work from God’s power, not your own. more

Ministry Life

The most effective way to avoid stress and eventual burnout is to be in constant communion with God the Father. more

Emotional Health

Anytime we find ourselves struggling under the weight of expectations, Jesus reminds us, “Come to Me.” more

Pastors' Wives

Life in ministry is an emotional roller-coaster ride. From funeral to party, hospital room to wedding, life to death. It’s up and down. more

Pastors' Wives

Learn to take time out to seek solitude, rest, and renewal; to come to God and let Him give you rest. more

Ministry Life

Discover how you can come back from the brink of spiritual burnout to find refreshment and renewal in Christ. more

Spiritual Health

What do you do when your life is full, but your soul is empty? more

Ministry Life

The way out of burnout is not an easy path to tread. more

Ministry Life

Sarah Young

Sarah Young

  • Sarah Young

    Jesus Always: 10 Tips for a Joy-Filled Life

    Jesus Calling was written to help people connect not only with Jesus, the living Word, but also with the Bible-the only infallible, inerrant Word of God. Sarah endeavors to keep her devotional writing consistent with that unchanging standard. more

email signup
Our store
Subscribe Now!
Ad slot 5