How to Prevent Burnout

By Vladimir Savchuk | March 23, 2023 | 9 mins

How to Prevent Burnout

Since the COVID Pandemic, people have come to feel even more stressed and worn out and they are constantly confronted with a feeling of getting burnt out. This has led to an increase in focus on mental health.

Mental health is so important–to those in any sphere of life. The truth is that being a leader in the church can be draining and those in ministry may come to a place of feeling burnout as well.  In the world, the coping mechanisms to deal with struggles in one’s mental health seem to reject Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual realm; therefore, they only deal with the issues on a surface level rather than on a deeper level. (This is not referring to mental illness or disorders that need appropriate medical treatment).

If you’ve been feeling burnt out or overwhelmed mentally, here are some spiritual disciplines and practices that I recommend in order to prevent burnout.

A Few Practical Tips

1) Understand that God created humanity with life on the inside and seeds to produce fruit.

God created humanity, placed life on the inside of what He created, and gave life the ability to be fruitful. For example, God put life into trees and now the trees bear fruit (Genesis 1:11, 22, 24, 28). We see Him do the same to animals and humans; He put life within them and commanded them to be fruitful–to bear the fruit of the womb (Genesis 1:24-28).

Only life can produce fruit. Machines produce work. Machines, which are man-made, only do work but men were never created to be machines. We were created to bear fruit, but in order to do so, we need to have life. Not just in the physical form, but the inner life that is required to be fruitful.

2)  Know that Jesus became the Vine so that we can become the branches.

Because of sin, we were completely disconnected and cut off from God. The Bible teaches that we were dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1). However, in John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the vine and those who abide in Him are the branches.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

When Jesus was eternally with the Father, He was not our vine because we were not attached to Him and could not receive His “sap” or life. We were disconnected from God. Jesus became “planted into the soil of this earth,” took on humanity, lived as the holy Son of God, and He died for our sins. Therefore, He became our Vine.

We can live life from the overflow of the life of God on the inside of us, and thus, bear fruit.

Therefore, we don’t strive, grind, or just push through, we just have to abide.

If we are inwardly bankrupt and the fire of God is burned out, but we continue to try to work for the Lord, we will not produce fruit, but instead produce work. We will be more like machines in a factory instead of a branch on a vine.

You were never created to be a machine. You can make a machine, but you are NOT a machine. You are a branch. What makes you fruitful in work, in ministry, and in life, is not hustling or working hard, but abiding deeply in Him, and taking care of your inner life.

If you are gifted, you may possibly be successful in some areas, but gifting can only get you so far. Gifting does not change the fact that a person is inwardly bankrupt. No amount of gifting or public anointing (like how God uses one publicly: prophetic words, public ministry) will ever compensate for the lack of life that one has inside. Then the ministry responsibilities will eventually become too heavy and too difficult. Marriage will become too difficult. Like a machine, you will begin to squeak, grind, and burn out.

Check out what this verse below says.

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10

Notice, the verse does not say “successful” in every good work, but rather “fruitful.” “Success” is what the world seeks because they don’t have an inner life that produces fruitfulness. Success is what the world is trying to attain at the costly price of ignoring one’s inner life. The world ignores the importance of our spiritual life, Christ, and intimacy with God, and instead focuses on trends and fads—like yoga and drinking green juice. But, what the world fails to realize is that even with following these trendy social media lifestyles, their marriages still fall apart, their children are still unruly, and their Instagram posts are still just a façade with no substance or correlation to their real life.

Jesus tells us if we are stressed out, we should come to Him so that He will give us rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30

Jesus is telling us that our real source of restfulness and joy is our inner world being calibrated to His. The Christian life is lived from the inner life that we get by abiding in Jesus.

Read: From Burnout to Burning

3) The evidence of Jesus’s fruit in our ministry comes through His life within us as ministers.

If intimacy with the Lord is ignored, not nurtured, and not prioritized, then although we might be successful, we won’t be fruitful. The success will come at the price of us not abiding as a branch, but rather living as a machine. Leaders will find themselves hustling, instead of loving.

Machines don’t know seasons, but branches do. Branches cannot bear fruit all the time: there are seasons when they are fruitful and seasons when they look cold and dead, even though they are still alive. Machines are expected to produce all the time. When you act like a machine, you don’t know your rhythm or season. You have to always be available, constantly working, and never getting tired. Branches don’t do that. Women, for example, cannot bear children every month. There is a season of pregnancy, lasting for 9 months. Life has cycles and rhythms that God created we should respect. We as humans make machines because we want influx and speed, which is needed in some situations, but when we become machines, it becomes a problem.

We need to know our cycles, the seasons we are in, and the One living in us. Sometimes God takes us through seasons so that He can teach us specific things; you need to learn to respect the seasons God walks you through to produce His work and will inside of you.

4) You are a branch, not a machine. Machines do work but only life can bear fruit.

Fruit is silent, slow, and seasonal. Work is loud, fast, and constant.

In our day and age, we want faster iPhones, internet, and cars that are faster and constant. What we must remember is that if our inner life is bankrupt, then we will be reduced to a machine, not a branch. Machines are in a factory; branches are on the vine. Machines need to be “on,” while branches need to be “in.” Machines need power, but branches need sap. Machines produce, but branches reproduce. Machines cannot make life. Machines break down, but branches die. Machines make products we use, but branches make fruit we eat.

Final Thoughts

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Acts 20:28

Paul is telling leaders, elders, and pastors to take care of themselves and their spiritual health first and then that of the flock. Give attention to yourself; this verse is not regarding self-care, but rather focusing attention on your spiritual life and spiritual hunger. This means paying attention to the life of Jesus within us.

Paul tells a young leader the following:

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:16

The theology of taking care of your inner life is of primary importance for ministry and leadership. Everyone and everything else will put a demand on your time. Everyone will ask and demand of you, but you will have to fight and make sure that you take heed to yourself.

Take time to check and ask yourself: How is my inner life today? How is my heart today?

Paul does not say, make sure you have a mentor who will take care of you, but rather make sure YOU take care of YOURSELF.

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