(Part 2) Burnout – How did I get here?

First of all, I believe burnout doesn’t mean you need to be repaired; burnout means you need to be refueled! (I wrote about What Burnout Is in part 1 of this series.)

Most of us can identify a time in our life when we felt burnout. Maybe you’re there now! We can usually recognize when we are in the middle of burnout, but we often cannot identify what brought us there in the first place.

If we don’t know what led us to burnout, there is a very high possibility we will find ourselves burnout again.

And again.

And again.

If we don't know what lead us to burnout, there is a very high possibility we will find ourselves burnout again. Share on X

If you’re putting gas in the tank, only to find that your car is still empty, you probably have a leak in the tank. You don’t have an inflow problem; you have an outflow problem. To operate at full capacity in life, we must carefully monitor what goes in and what goes out.

For over a decade, I’ve visited with people who have burnout in the church, and have even struggled with burnout in my own life. I’ve noticed at least four factors that contribute to burnout.

1. Isolation. 

God created us to live, worship, and serve in a community. When we isolate ourselves from other people, we’re placing ourselves on a path towards burnout. Sharing your life with others doesn’t mean we have to be around people all of the time (there is certainly a place for time alone with God), but if we never build relationships with those in our church family we’re essentially punching a hole in our spiritual tank.

Remember, at the very beginning it was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” You were wired as a relational being.

Even Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

2. Unresolved Conflict. 

When people are involved there will be conflicts. The measure of a healthy spiritual life is not the absence of conflict; it’s how you respond to the conflict. Some people think that not addressing a conflict will make the issue go away, but in reality, the opposite happens. The conflict festers and grows.

The only way to resolve a conflict is to address it in a loving and gracious way. When we allow unresolved conflict to remain in our lives, it spreads like a bad mold and rusts away our desire to serve others. In the end, we burn out.

If you’re offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them.” Matthew 5:23-24

3. Poor Time Management.

Let’s face it. Most people are poor managers of time…myself included. By getting caught up in the daily grind, days turn to weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn to years. We spend time, but we don’t invest time.

Like you can get a return on investment (ROI) on your money, you also get a ROI on your time. Maybe that’s why God instructs us to “redeem the time.” Ephesians 5:16

One of the best ways to invest your time so that you won’t burn out is to rest. If you don’t believe me, then go back and read the 4th commandment. It’s a big deal to God that we set aside a day to rest and replenish.

4. Under-appreciation.

Sometimes it’s a simple, small “Thank You!” that lights your fire and keeps you going. Just knowing that someone notices what you’re doing and appreciates your hard work and dedication.

Here’s the thing.

God notices. God cares.

When you serve Him, you are “storing up treasures in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy, and where thieves cannot break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20

If you feel underappreciated, know that God is watching. Let the longing of your heart be to one day hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

5. Over-extending. 

If you have a servant’s heart, then you may feel the pressure to say Yes to every opportunity that comes your way. However, sometimes the best thing we can do for our spiritual health is to say “No” to opportunities. There will always be good opportunities out there to serve, but I believe we need to watch for the God opportunities.

Commitment is saying No to everything except the thing you said Yes to. When you say No to good opportunities, you’re making yourself available for God opportunities.

Commitment as saying No to everything except the thing you said Yes to. Share on X


So, are you on a track to burnout? Ask yourself these 5 Questions to see.

  1. Am I living in isolation from other people?
  2. Is there an unresolved conflict with someone in my life?
  3. Are there areas of life where I am wasting time?
  4. Do I feel under-appreciated for the work I do?
  5. Am I overextending myself?

If you answered Yes to any of the questions, you might be on track for burnout. It’s Ok to recognize, but it’s not ok to stay there.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – How do I get the fire back?