What Causes Burnout and What You Can Do About It

Burnout is never caused by a single area of life. Burnout is a function of our total life management.

One area of life cannot get out of order without overt choices of neglect being made in other areas of life. This means that if we managed the other areas of our life well, it would have contained the area (i.e., work, ministry, parenting, etc.) that was the primary cause of burnout.

We must resist the temptation to blame life, or even one area of our life management, for the experience of burnout. Burnout is a result of how we have managed our life as a whole.

So, we might begin our assessment of burnout’s cause with this foundational statement—burnout is the result of living beyond our means with the time God has provided.

It is common to say that someone is “living beyond their means” financially. There is a cultural epidemic of people spending more than they earn. The majority of Americans have a negative net-worth; we owe more than we own.

We will use this parallel of financial and time management many times, so begin to think in these categories.

The first thing God’s fairness requires of the person moving toward burnout is to rest in the fact that everything fits in a 168 hour week.

This means that even if there are 200 hours worth of excellent things to be accomplished in a week, that you can have assurance at least 32 hours of your agenda are outside the will of God for your life; not “outside the will of God” in terms of being bad, but “outside the will of God” in the sense that God will accomplish this, if it needs to be done, through someone else.

Budgeting rest, work and family.

In order to think this way, you must have an intentional plan for how you use your time. Like a financial budget, it must be detailed enough to be useful, flexible enough to be practical and looked at enough to alter your life.

Let me begin by offering some general parameters for this time budget.

First, you should allocate at least 50 hours per week to sleep.

This is a bare minimum of honoring the Sabbath command to express faith in God by resting a significant portion of each week.

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Brad Hambrick
Brad serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in  Durham, NC. He also serves as Instructor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and has authored several books including Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends and God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles.