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3 Tips For Avoiding Burnout

3 Tips For Avoiding Burnout


Youth ministry is a job that requires much of us emotionally and spiritually. We are asked to give of ourselves so we can serve our youth and their families. When navigated mindfully, this is a wonderful thing. However, it is easy to slip into tendencies that can lead to burnout quickly if we are not careful. Burnout is kind of a buzzword right now and is essentially a harmful mental/emotional state after prolonged or unmitigated workplace stress.

How can we serve sacrificially as God calls us to while still protecting ourselves and preventing burnout? Here are some ideas:


1. Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries

Having clear-cut boundaries with your time and job is key. It is a sign of an unhealthy approach to youth ministry if you are expected to always be “on call” and available simply because “we are called to serve.” Even Jesus had boundaries! Multiple times in Scripture, we read about Jesus going off by Himself to pray and spend time alone (Matthew 14, Luke 5, Mark 1, for example). Jesus did not spend every minute of His time healing and preaching. He had the boundary of spending time alone in prayer so that He could serve people well.

One way to accomplish this boundary is to not answer emails outside of your office/contract hours. I know this can be hard, especially when most – if not all – of us have email apps on our phones. Even so, protecting your personal time is key. You do not need to answer emails once you leave the office. That can wait until the next day. Think of it this way: if it is truly urgent, they would call you. And odds are, they won’t call you. Leaving work at work in this way helps our minds relax and separate from work so we can focus on other aspects of our life. We can decompress because we are not taking our work life into our personal life.

Speaking of leaving work at work, make sure you are actually leaving work when you are supposed to. Youth ministry schedules are notoriously irregular, so be sure you are protecting your personal time by not working more hours than you’re supposed to (i.e., being paid for) for no reason. There will obviously be weeks where you would technically be working overtime, such as a mission trip, and maybe you stay at work until Wednesday night youth group instead of going home beforehand. But, if you are at the end of a work day and a task can be resumed the following day, you owe it to yourself to protect your time and go home. Jesus had boundaries, and we need them too.


2. Find a Hobby

This might seem kind of silly, but hear me out. You should have a hobby – something you enjoy that isn’t draining and has nothing to do with work. If you don’t have anything going on in your life besides work and then going home, that’s a recipe for burnout. There needs to be something that fulfills you outside of the job. Whether it’s hiking by yourself or a book club with friends, find a hobby or two that you enjoy and stick with it. Youth ministry should be fulfilling, but it can’t be the only thing that fills you up.


3. Spend Time with Jesus REGULARLY

Regarding being filled, it is crucial that you are intentional with your relationship with Jesus. When Jesus went off by Himself, He spent time in prayer with the Father. Speaking from experience, it is super easy to let this fall by the wayside. When you are engaging with Scripture while writing the Sunday school lesson, it can be easy to let that be your time in Scripture for the day. This isn’t enough, though. We need to be in prayer and reading the Bible on our own for our personal pursuit of Jesus, not just for work.

As youth ministers, we are called to lead by example for our students. We aren’t meant to feel guilty for the ways we fall short but should be convicted to do our best to model a life of following Christ both in the seen and unseen ways. This includes our personal relationship with Jesus.

There will be times when youth ministry is more stressful than others, and every day of the job won’t be a walk in the park. We owe it to ourselves and our students to do what we can to avoid burnout so we can both do our jobs well and treat ourselves with care. 

Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:

  • What are some ways you decompress after work? What hobbies do you have that help your mind relax?
  • Do you have any tips on maintaining work/life balance? Are there any things not listed in this article that have been helpful for you?

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Rich Douglas - March 28, 2024

Love the wisdom in this article, Kaleigh! Thanks for sharing!

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