Take our short survey to determine whether you’re just tired or jeopardizing your health.
Statistics support what many in ministry feel “tired, edgy and emotionally and physically weary.” A 1998 Focus on the Family report found that 80 percent of pastors and 84 percent of pastors’ wives are discouraged or dealing with depression. Though years have passed, the possibility of burnout remains as prominent as ever. Ministering to others while operating an organization is difficult and challenging, yet highly rewarding. It easily leads to seasons of weariness.
But when is it just being tired versus suffering from the more serious life-effecting result of too much busyness called burnout? When external pressures, responsibilities and activities exceed one’s internal resources for a sustained period of time, burnout happens. This condition can seriously affect our health, emotional stability and spiritual vitality. Burnout is damaging to us and to God’s purposes through us.
How do we know if our doldrums are just a temporary season of tiredness needing a short period of rest and renewal or something much more grave requiring an extended Sabbatical and professional help? One way to gauge our status is by completing the following checklist. Put a checkmark in front of each symptom that fits you. When complete, add up the checkmarks and compare your results with the key provided.
THE BURNOUT SURVEY
Instructions: Put a checkmark ( √ ) in front of the symptoms that fit you.
__ Frequent tightness or pain in the neck/shoulders/back
__ Frequent indigestion
__ Frequent diarrhea, loose stool or constipation
__ Pre-ulcer symptoms
__ Frequent or severe headaches
__ Rapid weight loss or gain
__ Trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep 8 hours
__ Teeth grinding at night
__ Tired or listless much of the time
__ Difficulty waking up and getting going, wake up in a “cloud”
__ Shortness of breath and/or rapid pulse beat
Spiritual & Emotional Symptoms
__ Loss of interest in most things but work
__ Friends/colleagues/spouse say you need to slow down or rest more
__ Have difficulty relaxing or feel guilty when trying to relax
__ Generally feel nervous and unsettled
__ Readily irritable and/or impatient
__ Lost your passion and sense of excitement
__ Difficulty coming up with creative vision
__ Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
__ Difficulty experiencing God’s presence
__ Previously conquered temptations are returning
__ Tendency to seek more comfort in food/activities/spending, etc.
0-8 items checked = Low
No current risk of burnout.
Your daily, weekly and monthly routines are offering you enough rest and renewal to prevent serious problems.
8-15 items checked = Moderate
Experiencing moderate signs of burnout.
Much of what you are doing is not providing enough relief from stress to truly renew or refresh you. Change is needed or serious health issues may ensue. This is not sustainable.
15-23 items checked = High
High probability of burnout.
Your daily, weekly and monthly schedule is depleting you. More and more of your effort is probably adrenaline fueled. You need to be evaluated by a professional.
The most important thing a person can do when there is a possibility of burnout is to get input from someone qualified in evaluating the condition. If you are burned out the remedy is threefold:
- Stop Doing What You’re Doing: Meaning that you need an extended period of rest away from the pressures, expectations and ‘have-tos’ of ministry life and leadership. Without a time-out period you will never (physically, emotionally & spiritually) recover. This typically means a planned Sabbatical of weeks or months, not days.
- Change: You need to identify the key factor(s) that lead to the burnout and change. Without personal change you will repeat your unhealthy pattern. True non-cosmetic change usually requires coaching, counseling and accountability.
- Learn Resiliency: It is important to learn how to bounce back from adversity, tiredness and over-exertion and be the better for it in order to sustain effective leadership and ministry. Work on learning how to do so in your life. Ask others how they do it. Become a student of the issue and know where your limits are as well as your coping strengths.