Holy Burn-Out?

Why do so many church workers and vicars burn out after just a short time in their ministries?

You can probably think of hundreds of reasons. But here’s a few starters;

We value gifting over character. In theory, we say we want holiness – and we do. But in practice, we’ll prioritise skills over maturity. We place immature Christians in positions of leadership and then act surprised when they come crashing down. What’s that? You can sing and play guitar? Doesn’t matter if you’ve just become a Christian and are -er, ironing out a few lifestyle issues. You’re a Born Worship Leader! And you start today!

We prioritise programmes over people. So, instead of working with what we’ve got, we put even more pressure on a small core of overburdened volunteers. We launch hundreds of new initiatives or place all our focus on evangelism, without discipling and looking after our core saints. This is not to say we shouldn’t pray and think big, that we don’t step out in faith and that evangelism isn’t the life-blood of a church – these things are true. But surely evangelism flows naturally from discipleship – as the body are built up in Christ, we become more excited about the gospel and sharing it with others. Equally, if God calls us to new projects, He also equips. So if we want to start a new youth group, but we haven’t got enough volunteers to even man the creche, then that’s a great idea that might have to be put on hold as we pray for the people to meet the vision.

We don’t take rest seriously. Nine of the commandments are spot on. But that Sabbath thing – it’s for part-timers. Went out with the regulations on mildew. Now ok, part of this is understandable. If the phone rings and someone’s in trouble, you’re not going to switch on a message saying ‘sorry, gospel hours are strictly nine to five. Please plan your melt-downs accordingly’. But when we do work the extra hours, do we take time off to compensate? Or does the day off get squeezed to a coffee on the run? Sure – life is busy. But that’s the point. Rest is there for a reason. And if we can’t take it, then we need to start asking ourselves some big questions. Like, am I indispensable? Or, where are my priorities? Because if they match the Lord’s then that Sabbath thing’s a bit of a problem. Not to mention other relationships with family or friends. It’s not godly to burn out gloriously for the Lord. That’s a total contradiction. And it begs the biggest question of all – who am I serving?

We equate our value with the size of our diaries. Godliness with business. If I’m not running around like a headless chicken, I’m useless. Is this the gospel that sets me free?

We’re in a spiritual battleground. But we try to fight the battle on our own – without prayer, without rest, without letting others share our struggles.

We’re terrified of stopping. Of facing who we are. Of being still before God. Of admitting weakness.

We think that God needs us, not vice-versa.

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