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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.


7am: Wake up, read the paper, drive to work
9am: Start work
12pm: Lunch break with lunchtime workout
1pm: Back to work
3:15: Coffee Break
5pm: Home time
6pm: Dinner
8pm: Kids to bed and TV Watching
10pm: Bedtime

Is this what your routine looks like? Mine neither. As youth workers we often have some weird schedules. We are up late so we start in the office later. Some days are 12 hrs long while others wrap up in a just a few, because we just came in for a meeting.

No matter what your day looks like to be effective you need to find a rhythm. Music sucks without it and so will you. What does having a Rhythm look like?

I don’t believe that every day has to look the same, in fact if it did that would be rather boring. However, I strongly believe in finding what times of day I am productive in and when am I least productive.

About a year ago I sat in on a seminar Doug Fields was leading at a conference and he was challenging people about living a balanced life. One of the things he talked about was finding your productive times and using them well. For some people that time is morning, for me it’s mid afternoon. So that’s when I focus on getting things done. I would strongly encourage you to do the same find this time yourself.

In order to figure out our productive times and how to fill them we need to look at two things:

  • Priorities: For me this looks like the time I spend with God for personal time and for work it is writing talks and strategizing. If it’s the most important thing to me shouldn’t it be what I am giving the best of my time and brain power
  • When do I have maximum brain capacity: This took some searching and messing around with the order I did things during the day. I tried writing at the beginning of my day, the middle and the end. I’ve tried starting off my day with God and ending my day with God.

Through this investigation I figured out how to make my life at home and work more effective. While my day looks nothing like what I wrote above it does have some consistency. I slot my Bible reading and message writing for mid-afternoon. I often have a snack and drink before I do this. When others are hitting that wall or slowing down, I find I can break away and really focus on God.

Now some people may be wondering what I am going to do in my less productive times, and for them I answer the things that take less brain power. I find looking for graphics, updating Facebook or twitter to require less from me so I do them during this time.

So what is your Rhythm? If you have found it, have you put your priorities in place? Are you honoring God with your time and your efforts? I want to challenge you to mix up your day and see if there is a way to make better use of it. We are never perfect but we can strive to be better.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: or Twitter: @CorbinKyle