3. The final precursor to youth minister burnout is the development of unhealthy habits.
This one is directly related to the second. Increased time-wasting means you put off important stuff until the last minute. The next thing you know, you’re at the office late. You’re trying to complete all the stuff you should’ve done this morning.
When this happens regularly, you develop truly awful physical habits. These include:
- Intaking more caffeine than usual.
- Eating fast food more often than usual or at odd hours.
- Sleeping too little, or on a very irregular schedule.
- Getting less exercise and/or exposure to sunlight than usual.
These things alone provide the most accurate predictor of youth minister burnout. If the warning signs describe you, don’t ignore them!
In my conversations, one line came up repeatedly: It “felt like my body was shutting down.” Usually it was! The worst part? Unhealthy habits exacerbate the effects of the first two items. Your attitude worsens, your work ethic tanks, you become more lackadaisical and less energetic. All this happens because of the changes in your diet and lifestyle.
Then burnout happens, totally and explosively. Given the evidence, this isn’t surprising, is it? Discouraged youth workers who develop unproductive work habits walking around in rapidly depleted physical systems? It’s amazing that youth workers in this state can survive a few days, let alone months.
But it’s usually not much more than that. If you’re in this place and somehow avoid getting fired for it, you probably won’t last much longer before you quit, resign or just stop showing up.
Continuing to do ministry through a depleted spiritual and physical state isn’t workable. If you can understand burnout symptoms, then you already know what you need to do to fix them. But here’s a quick guide to course correction.
How to Stop Youth Minister Burnout in Its Tracks
1. Get an immediate attitude adjustment.
If you’re a ministry complainer, then do your best to stop that altogether. More importantly, decide to be a person who tries to solve problems instead of quickly shooting down every new idea. I can’t promise that every piece of advice you receive will work. But it will work better than merely complaining.
2. Block all your distractions.
Use a web extension if you have to. But make certain that YouTube and every other time-wasting website is off-limits. Then reward yourself for completing tasks by spending your extra time doing something you really enjoy.
3. Take care of yourself.
Listen, I’m not a diet guru. But if you’re treating your body worse than usual, don’t be surprised when it responds worse than usual. Take a walk, eat a salad, get a good night’s sleep. Do that for three days and see if you start feeling better.
Here’s the most important thing you’ll do today: Help out your friends and the whole youth-ministry world by sharing this post. Send emails. Schedule tweets. Do whatever you can to get this information to everyone who does ministry.
Seriously, do it right now. I’ll wait…
Did you share it? Good! Finally, please leave a comment below. Tell me ONE STEP you’ll take today to stay off that burnout path.
I love you guys. Take care of yourselves, OK?