As a ministry family, it isn't long before you hear things like "avoiding burnout" and "struggling with burnout." What exactly IS burnout??? Here's what I have gathered. Burnout is a time when a ministry family is hurting or struggling and contemplating getting out of ministry forever. People have hurt them, offended them, confused them, attacked them or judged them. Or maybe it has to do with the physical aspect of ministry - they are tired, run down, mentally exhausted, or carrying too many burdens cast on their shoulders by members of their congregation.
As not only a pastor's wife, but a child of God cursed with a sin nature, I am also susceptible to this burnout issue. I've seen men and women and even pastor's kids become bitter towards the ministry or even the church itself. It is a heartbreaking experience for everyone involved.
I think it's important to remember that God never leads us down the easy path - He leads us on the path that will bring more glory to Him. It doesn't matter if you are in ministry or not - if you are God's child, you have been called to follow Christ. (Romans 8:29) It doesn't matter what He will lead you through - He will always be there with you, alongside you, helping you, guiding you and loving you.
Psalm 91:1-2 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
Over and over in Scripture God calls us to walk as Christ walked - and if you truly consider where Christ walked, His walk had joyous moments that involved having His feet washed with expensive perfume or palm branches and His walk also had moments of pain carrying His cross to the hill and lying down on it and dying on that cross. His walk was not easy.
Lamentations 3:32 "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love."
The hardest time in my Christian life was when I miscarried our daughter, Dorema (for more about her - go here). I remember sitting on the couch with my husband after crying and feeling my heart break and ache in more ways than I had ever experienced and feeling such peace -
Philippians 4:17 - "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I knew that if it were not for God's peace, I would have experienced my darkest days. The depression that wanted to seep into my soul was not allowed to enter because God's peace was there instead. I found comfort and even joy in knowing that God was there holding my heart and keeping it from shattering into a million pieces.
Lamentations 3:22 - "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
I have to be honest, I'm not really sure why God led me to write about ministry burnout. Our ministry is going well right now and I'm very far away from feeling the kind of heartbreak that I describe here. It's possible of course that God is preparing me for something. Or maybe this is for you. Maybe YOU are feeling that "burnout" and you ARE going through those kinds of thoughts and struggles and you are not sure what God has for you or if He is even listening. If so this is for you. For more encouragement read Lamentations 3 and Psalm 42.
Psalm 42:5 "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."