My first year in ministry, I lost track of how often I heard someone say, “I can’t believe you don’t burnout.”
At the time, I wore these words as a badge of honor. I heard in them affirmation for all I was doing and for the fullness of our ministry calendar. These words fooled me into believing that more always equals better. They tricked me into believing I was invincible and that there was no end to what I could do.
I believed that right up until the end of that year, when I crashed and burned. My scarred remains taught me a valuable lesson: “I can’t believe you don’t burnout” isn’t actually a compliment.
These days, I hear these words far less than I used to. Yet, whenever they rear their ugly head, I heed them as a necessary (albeit painful) warning that it’s time to reevaluate. You should too.
With that in mind, whenever you hear the phrase, “I can’t believe you don’t burnout”…
Ask for clarification. When this comment comes from a parent, chances are good that it not only reflects what they see you in, but what they see (or fear) in their own family. So have a conversation. Ask, “What makes you say that? How does our ministry’s calendar feel to your family right now?” Doing so invites honest feedback. If taken seriously, such feedback allows you to better serve families, oftentimes by eliminating things from your ministry’s calendar.
Stop and evaluate. What’s contributing to the belief you’re doing too much? If you’re honest with yourself, are you? If so, what should you eliminate – for your health as well as the health of your ministry, students, and families?
Ruthlessly eliminate events that no longer benefit your ministry. Don’t replace those events with something new. Instead, relish a day or night off. Families will too.
Make time for family and friends outside of church. When was the last time you had a night out? Chances are, it was long ago. So make that a priority. If you wait for things to slow down in order to connect with family and friends, you never will.
Take time for you. If you work an evening, take the morning or afternoon off. If you hold a weekend event, unapologetically take an extra day off the following week to recover from it. Spend time with family. Do things unrelated to ministry that replenish you.
Shut your laptop and turn off your cell phone. Allow your mind to rest and lie fallow, without new concerns haunting you as you fall asleep. Remember that there’s a savior and you’re not it. Life (and even ministry) can – and will – continue without you.
In short, stop wearing “I can’t believe you don’t burnout” as a badge of honor. Instead, recognize these words for what they actually are: A telltale sign that unless you take intentional steps to prevent it, a crash is imminent.