A few months into my first ministry job, I found myself in an interesting position. Because I am a type-A, people-pleaser (recovering), I wanted to "be all things for all people" and said "yes" to any and every opportunity to serve. I loved my job and wanted to work my hardest to minister to the middle school girls in our youth group. However, I found myself easily exhausted.
It was the first time I experienced signs of burnout, but, as most youth workers can relate, not the last.
Thankfully, and with the help of others, I learned the following few tips to help me keep from spreading myself too thin:
1. Depend on your fellow youth workers.
Thankfully I work on a staff that encourages me to set some boundaries and utilize the gifted people all around me. Because I've seen ministry burnout first hand within my family, I put my driven personality aside and listened to my fellow staffer's encouragement. I was determined to learn how to maximize my ministry, rely on God's strength and the strength of the people He put in my life.
2. God does the saving, not me.
There is some bit of release in working hard, but knowing that God is in control of the outcome. Ministry is a healthy balance of encouraging and building up the weak and hurting, while also empowering them to rely on the Lord's help.
3. Serve from the overflow.
Though ministry requires sacrifice and service, a wise woman once advised me to "serve from the overflow in my life." The Lord continues to teach me the fairly obvious truth that we must be poured into before we can pour out. If I'm not taking time to spend with the Lord each day, if I'm not sitting under older and wiser women that can teach and encourage, then my personal resources are slim and will deplete quickly.
4. Parents are vital.
I have worked for ministries in the past that felt parents are too antiquated to "relate" to students. I strongly disagree. The Lord has entrusted these precious students to their parents' discipleship. The student ministry I am currently a part of is working fervently to equip parents to better disciple their children. Developing a partnership with parents is integral to effective student discipleship. These men and women are further along in their faith journey than I am. A clear partnership and encouraging relationship between parents and youth workers help transform ministry exhaustion into JOY and PEACE.
5. Humility is key.
Once I humbled myself before the Lord, relied on his strength, and realized I am not in this alone—ministry became a fun, exciting, and fruitful experience. I am better, healthier, and stronger because of the staff members. Mentors, and God has put in my life.
My prayer is that you too can experience that same joy and freedom in realizing the awesome resources God has given you to be an effective minster and fight ministry burnout.
What are some helpful tips you would pass along on preventing burnout?