Faith

Recovering from Ministry Burnout

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke‬ ‭10:38-42‬ ‭

I was in occupational ministry, as a Children’s ministry director until a year ago. I served in this role for a little more than three and half years. I LOVED my job! It didn’t feel like work.  It came easy to me. I was very passionate about children’s ministry and partnering with parents. After a few months, I had enough volunteers to have a rotation so that each team would have two months in service and one month serving.   Almost three years into this role, I would cry every Sunday morning. Seriously, my feet would hit the ground and dread would pour over me. I no longer had enough volunteers. I was tired. I was operating in my own strength, trying to piece it all together. When someone would make a suggestion, I felt like a failure (in retrospect, I know these suggestions were out of love and the enemy wanted to make me feel  like a failure).  I started to feel disconnected from my church family. I was an outsider looking in as everyone else could commune in the halls. I ran around trying to fill spots and make sure kids had leaders.  I felt alone, scared, like my giftings had been stripped from me, tired, ashamed, sad, and very disappointed in myself. I felt like I let God, my church, the leadership, and my family down.  Ministry had become my identity. It had become my ministry, not that of the Lords. It was a job and I wasn’t operating from a place of service but out of a place of obligation.

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As I dove into the Word and sought the Lord in prayer, the recurring theme was for me to abide in Him. Rest. Trust Him.

Wait, you want me to rest? To not be doing? Hello, I’m Amanda. I’m a (recovering) people pleaser and a doer.

“Rest in me. I know the plans I have for  you.”

Jason and I began to seek the Lord and speak with our pastor (and friend) about me stepping down. I wasn’t in a good place and the leaders and children deserved more than I could give them. I fulfilled my commitment to a summer program I helped with, and said a hard goodbye to the church we helped plant three and a half years prior. It sucked. These folks were family. We were in the trenches together, serving the community for Jesus. I love and miss each of you.  My life is forever changed by doing life with you.

We then started attending the church that our campus had been planted off of. Jason said I needed to wait at least six months to serve but prefered me to wait longer.  I mentioned I’m a doer, right? I knew there were needs to be met. God calls us all to serve, right? I didn’t wait the six months that he asked me to.  I met up with my mentor and friend, the director of the children’s ministry. I wanted to do something with little commitment. Well, I got my feet wet and dove into the deep end this past spring. I’m not sure I was ready either. I love these kids but, on occasion I leave church drained and anxious.

When school started life got really busy! One kid in public school, two that are homeschooled and with that comes lesson prep, research, printing, typing, grading and so on.  The twins and I began serving one to two times a month prepping the elementary room at church for the upcoming month. I was seeing my chiropractor three times a week (yay! I’m down to two times!).  And there’s  this healthy eating thing with all the grocery shopping and prepping food out the wazoo! On top of this and just being a mom and a wife, I serve in our unique needs ministry at church. My partner and I try to partner buddies with children that have unique needs, so they can participate in their groups.

I know I’ve been operating for a few weeks in my own strength (when will I get this straight?!) but, I also feel I wasn’t completely ready. That ‘rest’ thing came back up this morning in my friends video devotions on Facebook. She read, “You may appear to be doing nothing when you are sitting in time alone with God, but actually you are participating in battles going on in spiritual realms. You are waging a war not with weapons of this world but, with heavenly weapons that have Devine powers to demolish strongholds.” I believe those strongholds could be our own strongholds, not just of those we are praying for. Sometimes we can be like Peter and step out of the boat, other times we need to sit in the boat. Sometimes we need to sit at the feet of Jesus, like Mary so that we don’t become frustrated and anxious like Martha. There’s a season for everything and resting is important, God might be preparing you for something.

For I know the plans I have for you… Jeremiah 29:11

I’m going to continue to pray about the commitment I made to serve.  I know that recovery from anything takes time.  I’ve started waking up early to spend time with the Lord – to get my day start in the right direction.

Have you dealt with ministry burnout/exhaustion?  What did you do to heal and rest?  How long was the process for you?

Much love!

Amanda

P.S. Make sure to like the Facebook page and follow me on Twitter!  I will post quick tips, prayers, quick updates, and encouragement

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2 thoughts on “Recovering from Ministry Burnout

  1. So, a few years ago God told me to slow down. That seemed very strange to me. I also and a doer. It has taken those years to actually obey what the Lord had told me. I was in Children’s Ministry in AWANA’s for about 13 years. Loved it. I was a Sunday School teacher for many many years as well. Best part of church for me was being with the kids.
    But I started realizing that I was running on empty and that was not fair to the kids, the church, or the parents. So I stepped away from that.
    Then when J became a “Youth” I went with him just to check out the Youth Ministry that was going to have an influence on my son. So that led to me teaching the Senior Youth on Sunday nights and being with the entire Youth Group on Wednesday. Our Youth Pastor left and there were three ladies, including me that were kind of looking around for “what do we do now”? Then our church Pastor stepped up and we had a year of growth and excellent teaching with him. Then he left the church and we three ladies then said, “Guess it’s up to us”. So we decided to meet and make plans. The a man at the church stepped up to be the Youth Leader. We ladies had tried to impress upon the church that we had young men that needed a male leader instead of all of us girls. We were very grateful for this volunteer.
    I continued to help but was getting more exhausted every day. I could barely make it to work and then church with active teens. I talked long and deeply with the Lord. He told me to step away from ministry. At that time I was freed from the guilt of not being the leader that they needed. I also found out that my daddy had stage 4 liver cancer. I have not rejoined any ministry since that time a year ago. I am on a Short Term Committee and that is ok. But I feel so free to have let this ministry with God’d complete blessing.
    God’s ways are not man’s ways.
    We are all raised to get in there and get it done.
    But God told me to step back and He would get it done.
    So I am still free and trying to put a better focus on my health right now. God is in control and uses me every day no matter where I am.
    Always remember that God knows what is coming in your life and you have no idea what it is. He prepares us for what is coming if we let go of the reins and let him guide the team.
    Love you girl
    Bonnie

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Bonnie. I knew that God had/has plans for me/us, it has been spoken over us many times. Being a wife and a mom is what God has for me at the moment. He knew I’d be home teaching them- the rest was and is needed (this takes so much out of an introvert, but I love it). We don’t know where the Lord will lead us, but we are aware of the tracks he has laid ahead of us. We are taking one step at time and trying to wait for his prompting.
      I love you, Bonnie!

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