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The philosophical ideas to conquering burnout are easy to talk about.  If we could overcome the “shoulds” in our world we could deal. Taking time for the Lord is not a revolutionary idea.  However, I more often hear excuses that involve our schedules.  I have made them,  “Well, I MUST do that,  and that is expected of me,  and I can’t help it.”.  I lived off sugar and rarely slept.  My health fell apart.  So I needed order.

Here are some practical factors to consider in your schedule:


  • The “Have To” Factor:

In your scheduling what have you been told by leadership is yours no matter what?  What are those things you must do that no one else can do?  What are the things that you can do that ONLY you can do that bring the most value to your ministry and give you the most energy?  These go to the top of your list.

  • The Delegation Factor

A mentor once told me that someone else may only be able to perform a task 80% as well as I can, however, if it frees me up to do what is most valued then I need to let it go.  Wise words to live by.  What CAN you give away?  I hear your excuses and I stomp them out.  It is not more work.  It actually gives you more time in the long run.  You never know a parent, volunteer, church, or staff member may actually have been waiting  for you to invite them to use their gifts and talents by doing something that was yours.

  • The Priority Factor

So you have too many things on your list that your Senior Pastor or direct leadership says you are not allowed to give away?  You can’t move fast enough or accomplish enough?   Ask them what they want at the top of your list.  I regularly sit down with my “boss,” show them what’s on my plate and ask what top 3 things they need me to be working on.  This helps immediately to know how to put all of your “to do’s” in order.

  • The Personal Factor

My husband is amazing at having boundaries.  Others of us not so much.  Make sure you are taking time for Bible Study and time with the Lord that is NOT preparing for teaching in any way.  Sometimes to best bring our lives out of chaos we must create some order. Schedule in date nights, family time, and vacations in a manner that is written down and NON negotiable.

As youth people too often we make excuses for our disorganization. Just yesterday an acquaintance said to me, “You know youth pastors, they are just flighty.”  The inclination to  just “fly by the seat of your pants” is one of the deep roots of burnout.   In any sort of “giftings” test I take, administration is at the bottom of my list.  Funny thing is, many people are shocked at this.  Why?  I have learned this behavior.



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After reading yesterday’s post your response might have been one of defeat.

The schedule we keep is daunting.  Perhaps you are great at having “boundaries” but your leadership doesn’t have any.  If you are like me the struggle is you can tend to be more driven than called.   Either way it can translate into days off that are actually “on,” living on an IV of caffeine, and racing through life.  One youth pastor friend once told me,  ”I never thought that I could get burnt out doing what I love for whom I love.”

You know, but what are some practical steps you can take to get off this lunatic merry-go-round?

Remember How YOU Love Jesus:

I connect with Christ through music. Some days, I put in my headphones, close my eyes and sing along.  It refreshes me. For me being outside in His creation, talking with Him, soaking in His power is vital.  I have to put aside time for this.  Our  love affair with the Savior must last a lifetime.  What do you do that reminds you, you are connected to the Lord? When is the last time you took the time just for HIM?

The Rule Of 3:

Part of our problem becomes isolationism.  Perhaps we told someone our dirty secret and they told us something like a former pastor told me.  If I just understood that the Sabbath wasn’t a day off it was a lifestyle I would be fine.  ”Jesus never took a day off,  he simply stole away for a moment,”  was what he said.  So I would take the time and sit with God and my mind was everywhere else.  I didn’t change. I just stopped telling people about it. That was the problem. I needed others to keep me focused on Jesus.

Who are 3 people you can be honest with?   Let them check in with you. I suggest this combo: One person who has known you forever, that you trust, one person who does what you do but in another church or ministry and one person who is NOT in ministry but local. This may take some work but find them.  Then listen to their advice.  If they tell you to take a day off then do it.   Truth only sounds trite because it is simple.  Make the effort.

Do something you like to do- but don’t have to do.

Through a series of events I have taken up running this year.  It has become an outlet for stress release.  Nope I don’t have time to do it, but I need it.   I like it, and the way it makes me feel like I accomplished something on days when everything else feels out of control.  What do you enjoy?  Reading, writing, skeet shooting, watching Duck Dynasty?  This is a vital step to coming out of the spiral. Put aside something for a moment and just do something you LIKE to do.

Scheduling is a post all on it’s own, and that we will tackle tomorrow. This is not an exhaustive list,  it is merely some starting steps to come out of this season of life.  Remember you are NOT ALONE.  Many of us have been there and just might be there at this moment in time.

What are you doing to practically conquer your burn out?

We’ve all heard the old adage about the “two dogs fighting.” The basic premise of the story is one represents living for the Lord and the other our “evil desires.” These dogs battle within and the one that wins is the one we feed.

In my own heart these warring dogs are “Success:” Christ’s design vs. the world’s. I thought I was “feeding” Christ’s definition. Then the Lord led my family into one of the hardest seasons we have ever been through, literally. Not one area of our lives has gone “smoothly:” Health, Finances, Relationships, Ministry, Marriage, and Location. We have even been through a “history making” hurricane and blizzard. It has been one of those times in life that borders on the ridiculous and causes you to question EVERYTHING. It’s when I had a revelation:

In my heart of hearts I believed I could “work” up the “Jesus” ladder the same way you do in business.

I was doing what I believe many of us do, I was focused on “getting ahead” in ministry, and calling this my relationship with the Lord. If you called me out on it I would have denied it. As Jesus led, I would move from a small ministry, to a grass-roots one, then leading one, then eventually I would be the “next big thing” in ministry. While I do believe Jesus can and will use me any way he wants I thought he OWED me this for journeying in relationship with him. DSC_0563

He showed me some of my “heroes” and the truth about them:

  • Noah spent over 100 years building an ark. During this time the hope was others would see and believe. In the end only his immediate family and their wives joined him in Salvation.
  • “Saul” was well educated, rich, religious, from a good family, had status and well respected. “Paul” was flogged, imprisoned, exposed to death, shipwrecked 3 times, lashed within an “inch of his life,” five times, beaten with rods three times, hungry, thirsty, cold, naked, and pelted with stones.
  • Moses spent at least 80 years of his life in the desert: 40 as a shepherd and 40 wandering with his nation. The majority of his life was spent fighting the enemies of Israel. He got to see the promised land,  but never enter it.

The world deemed NONE of these people successful while they were alive. They were considered crazy, zealots and wackos.

Here’s what I also saw:

  • Noah was saved due to his faithfulness to the Lord.
  • Paul wrote a majority of the new testament and spent his life in pursuit of “finishing the race and the task “of taking Christ into the world. He only wanted to be faithful to the Lord.
  • Moses was buried by God himself and there was no one else who “knew God the same way face to face.” He was rewarded for his faithfulness to the Lord.

In my flesh I want to be noticed. Jesus asks me to redefine success as being faithful to journeying with Him. All of these men were saved not of their own doing nor did their rewards come because of what they DID for Him. He said, “Come be my friend, in the end your reward is Me.” They messed up along the way, they could do nothing to “earn” the Lord’s love and he owed them nothing. However, he chose still to use them mightily.

Yes, I have two dogs in me. The truth is sometimes I feed the one in the world. It feels better with more accolades ringing in my ears. It feels like I AM DOING SOMETHING GREAT. However, the end game isn’t about that at all is it… it’s to hear, “Well done, good and FAITHFUL servant.” It’s not about faithful to what… it’s to who…

The question is: Am I willing to believe this is enough?

Thought this post by Doug Fields was worth reading (and rereading when you have time to process it fully) – he talks a little bit about caring for your soul, perfect for us youth workers. Here’s a clip, follow the link for the rest:

Imagine that one side of the scale has all the stuff you already have or are trying to gain. Tipping the scale would be all the possessions and activities you typically view as benefits—houses, cars, boats, vacations, swimming pools, stock portfolios, job titles, reputation, college degrees, iguanas, all the toys you’ve ever bought, and karate lessons.

Then, on the other side of the balance is simply…your soul.

It would seem obvious that the side with all the stuff should weigh down the balance, right? Wrong! In God’s divine measuring system, stuff always loses to soul. Yet, when was the last time you stopped long enough to even consider your soul?

If you need some soul care, here’s a great resource to check out, too!


Chronic illnesses are constant or intermittent illnesses that impact (to varying degrees) a student’s health and can limit participation in many “normal” teenage activities. Some of these chronic conditions include seizure disorders, asthma, diabetes, lupus, hypertension, or a long-term illness such as cancer. Most of the ideas we share below apply best to more serious health conditions.

Caring for the student: The teenager may have some limitations and things you can’t do with him, but engage on an appropriate level. Ever wondered why pediatric units have video games available? Distraction is a great way to alleviate patients’ pain. This is probably the only area where you have a bona fide excuse that playing games is pure ministry! Find out from parents and medical staff what the student can and can’t do and what level of interaction is appropriate. Also remember the need for positive touch.

Caring for parents: Parents of a child with a chronic illness may feel a sense of powerlessness. They are stretched emotionally, spiritually, financially, and psychologically as they wrestle with this illness, helping their child have a good life. Steer clear of platitudes and clich