In December of 2009, I sat across from my boss in a hotel lobby and said, “I am done.” I couldn’t take another minute of continuing to do a job I once loved. For years I had given the job all of my best energy and care, until what felt like an out-of-the-blue, 180 degree turn, landed me in a reduced-schedule medical leave of absence. I was disoriented, scared and depressed. The lovely gift of shame (sarcasm intended) also had a nice way of nipping at my heels. I don’t know if I would have recognized it as shame at the time because I was too tired and numb to even acknowledge it for what it was, however, that’s what burnout can lead to if you don’t attend it.

I thought burnout only happened to people who hated their job and kept doing it anyway. I didn’t think it happened to people who were wholeheartedly committed with passion and “calling” for their work, but I was wrong. Here are some signs that I invite you to notice and see if there are any indications of these in your own life: 

  • Seemingly from out of nowhere you find you cannot go to one more event or meeting
  • You notice you are numb when in conversations with the people you serve or serve alongside 
  • You go through the motions of what “the right thing to do” is, but you are dreaming about the beach or another job
  • Your attention span is short
  • You realize the energy behind your actions is more about external pressure than a genuine care for what you do
  • Hope seems elusive 
  • Emotionally you feel busy, but your schedule might not reflect the same kind of busyness you feel internally 
  • When you rely heavily on a break or vacation and you find that doesn’t quite do the trick anymore 
  • There is a lack of laughter and joy 
  • You find yourself isolating 
  • Your tolerance of people is waning 
  • You wonder when and how you began to feel disconnected from God

These are just a few indications that you might be experiencing burnout. Do any of these resonate with you? Over the next two months, I will share about how I got to such a low point, my journey of walking through burnout, the things I realized about myself, and how God continues to use that dark period of time to shape my life. I hope you’ll follow along in this series. 

5 thoughts on “Twelve Signs of Burnout in Life and Ministry”

  1. Keep writing Beth! Love this and it helps me look back and see these symptoms clearly and be on the lookout for them to creep up again.

  2. This describes me more than I would like to admit. Thank you for sharing and being encouragement!

  3. I am really looking forward to reading this series. I immediately thought of several places and seasons in my life where I went from a blazing inferno of passion about something to almost no feeling at all. I see a pattern. I really don’t want to repeat it. Fix me, Beth!

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