One of the big reasons for ministry burnout is our inability to say no. I don't mean saying knowing to God. If God wants you to do anything he gives you the resources, including the time, and energy, without pressure, to get it done. I’m not talking about saying no to your spouse or children. Saying yes to them is almost always filled with blessing and satisfaction. I’m talking about our inability to say no to; bosses, coworkers, friends, Christian brothers and sisters, pastors or spiritual leaders.
When you’re in ministry you are expected to be a servant, and you are, but because you are, some perhaps most people, think that you should do anything they want or need need, at the “drop of a hat”’, no matter what else is going on in your life.
Whenever you want to say “No, I’m tired” or “No, I just don't want to do it”, you feel guilty and think “I chose to be in ministry” or “I chose to volunteer, as a minister or volunteer. I'm a servant and that means to serve, no matter what”. Whether you want to admit it or not, you think that you have to say yes even if that service is detrimental to you or our family. Because you feel guilty you don’t say no to those outside our families but say no to the people closest to you. You might even try to justify it by saying that “Satan never takes time off”. Satan should not be your example.
Burnout can be experienced in a variety of ways and they can have a compounding effect on each other:
- Physical burnout can be triggered by a lack of exercise, physical effects of stress and sleeplessness. The overloaded schedule and stressful lives cause you forget to exercise, you eat unhealthy foods, and sleep less. If left unchecked, physical burnout can cause a weakened immune system, aches and pains, a change in appetite, and feeling tired all the time.
- Relational burnout is related to emotional burnout and can be caused by strained relationships. Constant interactions with energy draining people make you unusually susceptible for this type of burnout. Physical exhaustion and drama between between others can make you isolate yourself to get a break from relationships that drain your energy.
- Emotional burnout can be felt when you feel like you don't have anyone you can go to when you are anxious, or stressed out. This type of burnout can wreak a family because of the feelings of isolation. Emotional burnout can numb your ability have normal emotions and have a sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Spiritual burnout happens when you neglect your own spiritual life while trying to pour into the lives of others. Many of us do not have anybody pouring into our lives and we do not seek the life and strength of God for spiritual refreshment. If you don’t spend time with God through prayer or Scripture reading, you may be suffering from spiritual burnout!
Start Saying No It Is Not A Sin
There really is grace, love, acceptance, and freedom in Christ, and if you want to find it, start by saying no. It’s not a sin.
There are a lot of great ministries out there, but that doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to be a part of all of them. I know saying no is especially difficult when a pastor or church leader asks you to say yes, because we are to;
Hebrews 13:17 (NLT)17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
That scripture goes right along with;
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
These scriptures and others when used to manipulate us to get us to say yes, even to good things like ministry, ignore another scripture that I think carries much more weight;
Acts 5:29 (NLT) But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.
God commands rest.
The Bible says that those who will not rest are disobedient .
Exodus 31:14 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 5:12 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
The Commandment with the most written about it is the one commanding rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NLT)8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work,10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word sabbath. It comes from the root Shin-Beit-Tavand means “to cease, to end, to rest.”
Here’s something that I read a couple of years ago in a blog post by guy named Steve Graves about the balance between work and rest. It’s an excerpt from Work Hard Rest Hard.
I believe we are all designed to have a balanced rhythm of work and rest. Here are ten insights that have helped me recapture and maintain that sense of balance in my life’s journey. They’re not rocket science, but I’ve found their simplicity and clarity helpful:
- Although the particulars of our jobs may vary, balance in work and rest is universally crucial to a life of flourishing.
- Rest requires that we stop working for some length of time.
- To stop working means I need to pull over, shut down, and turn things off. There is an explicit action to stopping.
- A hobby is an important structure to help with the balance of work and rest.
- My job cannot be my hobby.
- Work can become an addiction. And we usually need help beating addictions.
- The concept of Sabbath and the Year of Jubilee are biblical examples of weekly and seasonal resting. These must be scheduled into our system if they are ever going to happen.
- If my work is not filtered correctly on the front side, it will never be manageable on the backside.
- Hard work helps me rest. Good rest helps me work hard.
- What the fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning. Build rest into the rhythm of your life, before you get to a place in your life and work where you HAVE to take a rest.
You have specific gifts and passions, along with limitations on your time, energy, and financial resources: obey God, rather than men, in how you will use them.
Start saying No! It's not a sin and it can save you from ministry burnout!