1. Be Honest
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, burned out? Right now, the first thing you have to do is be honest about it—with yourself, first of all. Don’t deny it, don’t pretend it’s not there. Face up to it.
And then be honest with your wife, or a friend, or a pastor, and start sharing and seeking help.
2. Get Help
That’s the second step: get help. You can’t usually fix this on your own. You need outside help—maybe a doctor, or a friend, or a spouse to keep you accountable.
3. Be Holistic
The third thing is to be holistic in your approach. Don’t just think, “Oh, I’ll just address the physical, or the spiritual, or the relational . . .” but address all of these areas. Look at all of these areas in terms of causes and cures.
Causes of burnout can be divided into two types: On the one side there is what I would call life situations, and on the other side, lifestyle.
Life situations are things we have very little choice or control over. These are events or situations that happen to us: you lose a loved one, you lose a job, you relocate, you have family conflict. There are things that happen that cause stress or anxiety that you really have no control over.
On the other hand, there is lifestyle. These are things we choose, things we have control over: how long we work, how hard we work, how many days we work. There’s also lifestyle in terms of financial level we live at, exercise, how we eat—all these things that we have control over and can make choices about but we’re making the wrong choices.
Often it’s not just one thing, but lots of things that come together, either life situation, or lifestyle, or sometimes both.
4. Have Hope
The fourth thing is to have hope. Many have been there—I’ve been there, lots of men I’ve counseled have been there. If you use the God-ordained means that he has graciously provided, you’ll come out of it, so don’t give up.
Be sure to take a look at Crossway’s burnout infographic for more statistics related to this important (yet neglected) issue.
Watch This Short Video With David Murray
David Murray (DMin, Reformation International Theological Seminary) is professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and the pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. He is also a counselor, a regular speaker at conferences, and the author of Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. The post first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.
- A Plea for Holistic Christianity (David Murray)
- Preventing Pastoral Burnout (David Murray)
- Infographic: The Common (Yet Neglected) Problem of Burnout (David Murray)