Saturday, March 14, 2015

6 Tips on How to Avoid Ministry Burnout

Laughter is the best medicine. "Secca" meaning laugh
Sitting down to write a blog is one of the hardest things to get started on. I know that if I get started and I hear the tapping of the keys I won’t want to stop. It will become just another rambling of what has been going on- which I do want to share with you what is going on. I also want purpose. I want to have some big truth or experience God has allowed in my life. When there is so much going on it is hard to sit down and write about these things. But I promise to be disciplined in this post and do my best to share with you all the necessary details and leave the unnecessary out. I cannot even believe that it has been a month since I last wrote on my blog. Like I said I always have good intentions of sharing what’s going on. That is where Facebook comes in handy on the fly quick photo updates- a small window into what my day looks like. Or the best highlight. Seems like I have been running in circles trying to complete the same handful of tasks and missing out on sharing what God is doing in my own life. My dad sent me an email last night giving me a gentle nudge to write a blog and still I felt so reluctant. What is my problem? J

Sandra, my partner in crime, and I starting to dig holes for the mud hut we are building.

This is the original home that is about to cave in on the inside- we are rebuilding a new one. The owners of this home are elderly and we are working alongside the community members to rebuild and empower the community.

 This week has been challenging but our team has found unity through some mild challenges that we have been facing. Ministry is a funny thing: If used for the right reasons with the right heart it can encourage you and help grow your relationship with God but if not it can eat you up alive if you are not careful.

Sweet and sassy Joshua. This boy has my heart. <3
Last Saturday we dropped Porsche off at the airport and I said goodbye for a couple of weeks to one of my biggest encouragers here on ground. I knew with her leaving the devil was going to use everything he could to distract me and think I had a bad week. But looking back I can honestly say this week was a good week.

Betty and her brother Innocent in Zirobwe village.
All of “my” kids are now going to good school and becoming educated in places where they will be challenged but also have opportunities to be bold in their faith. It is always hard for me to say goodbye to them, but I know they are going to have incredible opportunities because of the education they are getting. I feel like they are all spread out all over the country. In every different direction so it Is not even like I can catch up with them on a regular basis I have to wait for their specific visiting day and make sure that I am within the right time limits and bring them gifts and things that are within the guidelines the boarding school has set. Most kids in Secondary schools go to a boarding school so they can have a more focused education.

I have said this multiple times without the realization of how true it is. The Lord has blessed me with such a tender heart towards children and has given me a motherly love. Many times these kids will tell me that I am practically like their mom because I challenge them and encourage them in ways that their own mother never would. It is a blessing and a curse. I have so much more respect for my own mother now and know what it feels like to be “the bad guy”

Empowered Leaders Academy (our school in the village) enjoying some praise and worship on Wednesday afternoon.
This week we went through Psalm 136 and read about all of the challenges that Moses went through- good and bad- and how God everlasting steadfast love remained constant. Steadfast. It is the word that keeps coming up in our family dynamic in Uganda and in Port Orchard. We got to put this steadfast love into action this week by doing dishes, cooking, and fetching water for one of the women in the village who was sick with malaria. Little did we know that was what God had intended for our team.
Sandra and I cooking a matooke. They may look like bananas, but they are most definitely not. They leave a sticky residue on your hands and you have to scrub them with a grocery bag and soap. Learning how to cook like a Ugandan everyday.  

Last week we had a young pastor’s daughter accept Christ into her life after listening to a message about hope from our team. What a cool experience it was to be a part of that follow-up and tell her parents about the decision she had made to surrender her life to Christ.   

These are just a few of the highlights from the week. If I were to write them all they would exceed the word limit on this blog and you would be exhausted emotionally and mentally….I know I am just trying to think of them.

I know I have said this before but being here full time has its challenges. In my job here- I am constantly learning new things about the culture and I am mediating the in between for both sides of volunteers and staff. I am not alone in this. But sometimes I can feel completely alone here. How weird is that?

I have been reading the book ‘The Best Yes’ by Lysa T. and she says, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul”

I love the truth in this.

Primary school New Brainstorm listening to one of the inter-
national staff sharing about faith and life and how it applies to their lives.
Sometimes I really struggle with the ability to say No! to the tasks that are at hand and it always results in feeling like I am completely overwhelmed in my scheduling. I don’t have time to go to a program I used to go to or I am fighting with every deadline. I want to give every yes my best and follow through. I also want to be seeking God wholeheartedly with him at the focus and spend my days in worship rather than stress. Having an overwhelmed schedule almost always leads to burnout.

Burnout; what is it? Where does it come from?  

                Often times for me it comes when I am irritable, when I have a lack of enthusiasm, loss of confidence, feeling of mistreatment, and just no energy.

How do you avoid burnout in ministry and how does scripture help?

1.      Completely depend on God: Our dependency on God is fully up to our responsibility. We need to be seeking him first in all situations. In every season. We can’t find contentment in anything by ourselves- they come from God alone.

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”


2.      Learn to say no: Sometimes you need to say no. You cannot give yourself to every project, every after school activity, and every small group. It is absolutely impossible to accomplish. Don’t even try. God can use us best when we are giving all of ourselves to fewer things.

Psalm 34:17-20 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.


3.      Exercise, eat right, and get some sleep: I seriously think people do not understand the simple importance of these three areas. If you can get these under control you will be smooth sailing. You won’t need that Venti vanilla Chai tea latte (You have no idea how good that sounds right now) to get your day going. With the right balance your body will release natural endorphins to make you a happier person. If you know me well enough- you know that I need all three of these things.


1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.


4.      Balance work and your personal life: You need to find areas outside of work (Especially if you are involved in ministry) to have fellowship. To connect with people and just act like a normal person. Cultivate and have deep intentional relationships with people in and out of work. If your work friends are your ministry friends- find a way to separate your conversation. Set up strict guardrails to protect you from getting into a routine of only work. It is so much easier said than done.


James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.


5.      Create time to get away: Spend time and money on yourself every once in a while. Take time to be refreshed and do spend time with your family. Be intentional with this time and use it to rededicate specific areas of your life in prayer. Search scripture for the things that are overwhelming you and spend time in complete silence and wait for the Lord.


Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.


6.      Have fun: It is so important to remember to keep Christ the center of every activity. Ministry is fun. Really fun.


James 4:14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

These are just a few important tips to help keep from burning out and if you are not careful you will get burned. Find ways to be used by God, even when you are tired. Even when it feels like you are not useful God can still take an un-extraordinary person and do something extraordinary with them.  He sure has with me.
My partners in crime from left to right: Kelly, me, Lydia, Jeremy, and Robbie