Experiencing Burnout (Part 1)

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There are at least three ways that we experience burnout.

1. Being responsible for something that is not your responsibility

There are two primary things that I think leaders are tempted to take responsibility for that are not their responsibility. The first one is growth.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV)

We all want our churches to grow and our people to change, and it’s true we can help or hinder that progress. However, we must be crystal clear that we don’t cause the growth. This should keep us from pride when we succeed and from depression or burnout when we fail.

So what is our role? We are stewards and stewards must be found faithful (1 Cor 4:1-2). God is responsible for fruitfulness (growth) and we are responsible for faithfulness.

Secondly, leaders are tempted to take responsibility for how people respond to them. I love Paul’s response to the Corinthians pressure for less Paul and more Apollos.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV)

As leaders, we must come to the conclusion that at the end of the day, “God will not hold me responsible for how people respond to me, but He will hold me responsible for how I respond to Him.”

Question for reflection:

How are you quieting the voices of others and maximizing God’s voice?

2. Trying to be someone else

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

The Corinthians wanted Paul to be like Apollos. Paul rightly resisted what others wanted him to be and was instead only who God called him to be. We must remember that God chooses who has what gifts and in what measure (1 Corinthians 12:18).

How dare we wish that we would be anyone other than who God made us to be!

So we can burnout if we try to be someone else, but we can also (perhaps unknowingly) cause burnout in others by expecting them to be someone different. We can be like Saul who tried to send David out in armor that fit him, but didn’t fit David. It’s important that we shape and mold others into what God has called them to be and not what we desire them to be.

Questions for reflection:

How do you feel pressure to be someone you’re not?
How might you be putting pressure on others to be someone their not?
Are you working to areas of strength?

Check back soon for the third way we experience burnout.

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Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches.

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