Every month, six to 10 people unsubscribe from the SmarterYM Community mailing list.
That doesn’t bother me too much.
After all, for every 10 that stop reading, there are thousands more who keep reading.
But what really makes me upset is the single most common reason that people unsubscribe.
Go ahead. Take a guess. I’ll wait here.
The main reason that people STOP reading SmarterYM is because they STOP doing ministry.
All that talk that you hear about burnout? It’s real.
And if you’re not actively doing something to prevent your burnout, then you’re a candidate to be the next person to remove yourself from my list.
I don’t want that to happen, not for my sake, but for yours, and for the sake of your students and congregation.
Work against burnout starting right now.
That might mean taking an extra day off or going out of your way to spend more time with your family.
It might mean skipping Monday Night Football so you can get some sleep or talking to someone else about the problems you’ve been facing lately.
No matter what, make sure that you protect your passion for ministry so that you can keep doing it for a long time.
How can we expect to positively impact someone else’s spiritual life if we continually neglect our own?
Remember these aren’t necessarily the things that cause burnout, just the symptoms of a problem that’s already there. I care about your spiritual health, and you ought to care about it too.
You waste more time than usual.
We all lose a little bit of time here and there courtesy of Facebook and YouTube. But if you notice that you’re losing hours—or whole work days—to inane distractions, it’s a sign that you’re headed down the path toward burnout.
What’s happening here? You’re exhausted, and even though you’re dragging your body to work, your mind isn’t getting engaged, so you spend too much time doing mindless things.
You’re sleeping too much.
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional nap, but if your naps are stretching into hours, that’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s done putting up with what you’re giving it.
This is especially true if you used to wake up excited for ministry, but now sleep through your alarm for an hour or two. For this one, more sleep isn’t the answer—try a vacation instead.
You’re not sleeping enough.
It seems like too obvious a statement to write, but if you’re burning the candle at both ends, you will absolutely wear yourself out. It’s one thing if you stay up too late during a particularly busy week. But if you keep that pace for a month or more, that’s evidence that you’re nearing a burnout episode.
You’ve lost your standard of excellence.
It’s important to me that I give my best, but during weaker moments, I don’t seem to care so much. If you find that you’re blowing off your prep time or that you’re letting your youth room stay a little messier every week, there’s an excellent chance that burnout is in your near future.
These four things have come up more often than anything else when I talk to struggling (and former) youth workers. More than that, they’re completely true in my own life and ministry.
But enough about me. Will you leave one comment to tell me what your burnout symptoms are? And more importantly, what do you do about it?