Recently a couple of others (Mike Lovato and Josh Treece) have blogged on burning out or coming close. I am aware how easy it is to burn the candle at both ends. Hannah and I have one car which she takes to work in Waltham Abbey. To manage the commute and get to work in plenty of time she leaves at or very soon after 6:30pm! If I want a lift because of needing to carry more stuff than I can on the back of my Dawes Horizon or because I was given a lift home the previous night from a church activity I have to be up early. But because of the nature of youth work I am often not back home till 10:00pm. That makes for a very long day which when repeated a few times a week really does begin to burn the candle at both ends.

A few factors that should also be thrown in include the fact that I like to get into work early and get stuff out of the way before the busyness of the day with people popping in and the phone ringing which doesn’t quite happen when you walk in at 11:00am. We do a lot of assemblies etc in schools which require early morning starts on top of the late nights with the youth groups.

There is a great section in This Way to Youth Ministry (pp. 136-137) adapted from Les Parrott’s, Helping the Struggling Adolescent: A Counselling Guide:

Be more than your job
Maintain stability without stagnation
Live a whole life
Learn to say “no”
Remember that you are not the Messiah
Cultivate your sense of play
Keep the Sabbath
Do not take yourself too seriously
Remember not to let your job get in the way of your calling
Never step on the scale of comparison
Recognise that even the best farmer faces seasons of slow growth
Keep coming back to where you want to end up

This is a really important issue. It is so easy to loose the plot and get too busy. We need to be really focussed on our calling and the priorities that come from that, and also the things that therefore aren’t as important. We need to be bold at saying no as well as yes and understanding, as Doug Fields always says, that every time we say yes to something extra at church etc. means less time for God, ourselves and our family because those are always the first people to loose out. For me I find it is a real challenge but incredibly important to discern what is not just a good thing to do but a God thing – what is it that He wants to be happening.

What techniques/ways/thoughts does anyone else have on how they prevent burnout and understand their priorities?

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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