Change is almost always good, but rarely, does it come easy. Case in point for myself: learning to make purchases without using credit. Now, I’m not saying that credit cards don’t have their place; they can be a great asset for such things as traveling. But I grew up with parents who lived by the motto of Wilma Flintstone when she and Betty shouted, “Charge it!” as they headed out on a shopping spree. This type of spending for me, as an adult, only led to stress on myself, my bank account, my marriage, and my relationship with God. So I had to make a change—and it wasn’t easy—unlearning habits that had been modeled for me my entire life. But the sense of freedom I experienced once the painful process began overshadowed the bad habits I had embraced. And even though the change has settled in, I know I need to stay on top of my new way of spending because it’s quite easy to fall back into the bad habits that I know will only put me back at maximum stress.
In Part Three of Anne Jackson’s book, Mad Church Disease, we take a look at how to overcome the burden of burnout. The chapter has a disclaimer that these five recommended steps to recovery might hurt but in order to heal, we have to hurt first. Here are highlights of these five principles for you to regain an abundant life that leads to fulfillment rather than burnout.
Principle 1: Own up to the decisions that led you to where you are.
Take responsibility for the habits, actions, and decisions that got you to a place of burnout in the first place. This principle is about making a conscious decision to change the type of choices we make in order to lead a lifestyle that is healthy rather than destructive.
Principle 2: Change your purpose.
In order to change, we have to admit that something currently isn’t working. Yep, that might mean admitting that we’re wrong and we need to repent. In the Greek, repent means to change one’s mind or purpose. Instead of chasing after the best ministry, highest attendance, or biggest worship facility, we need to put things into perspective and chase what the most important purpose: Love God first. What’s second? Love your neighbor as yourself. Then let go and watch how God allows the other things to fall into place, according to His purpose.
Principle 3: Make a plan.
Even the best laid plans are hard to follow through on. We make a decision to change, and then get tempted to sleep in, stay late, spend more than we should. When we want to make a change to live free of the things that lead to burnout, we need to make a plan that helps us reach that goal. We need to realize we can’t do it on our own and commit that plan to the Lord. Then we need to find a trusted friend who can help us stay accountable when we’re tempted to slip back into old habits.
Principle 4: Create boundaries.
One of the toughest words for ministry leaders to speak is the word, “No.” But creating boundaries is necessary for our health—both personal and professional. When we learn to say “no” to the things that aren’t directly aligned with God’s vision and purpose for our lives and ministry, we are trusting that God will provide because He knows what’s best for us.
Principle 5: Find accountability.
When you make a choice to change, it’s important to have someone to walk alongside you to help keep you accountable. Burnout is a tough consequence and it’s vital to have someone you can trust to walk alongside you as you move toward a healthier lifestyle.
Think On This
Why is change so difficult, even when you know it’s necessary? In what areas of your life do you need to take responsibility—where burnout has taken over? Where do you need to create boundaries? Who is someone that can keep you accountable as you make positive changes in your life?