Burn out sneaks into your heart and home as stealthily as a shadow. It moves the front of your emotions and spirit an inch at a time. So sloth-like is its attack, you find yourself surrounded by darkness before you register the first symptom. Like a coastal town, we need an early warning system.
Early in my day I tend the fields of my own heart. I spend time talking to God. I explore His Word and allow Him to talk to me. I walk or run to prepare my body for the day's battle. I fuel my body with the most nutritious food our budget allows. I stimulate my mind with reading other sources as well.
This isn't selfish - it's making the best use of God's day. I can't give out what I don't have and I have to make the choice to possess God's best as early in my day as possible. I can't reach the finish line of my day without properly preparing for the starting line.
We each have a "tell" to indicate impending burnout. Mine is when opportunity becomes irritation. When I have so little margin I no longer want God to interrupt my day.
On Tuesdays at Jesus & My Orange Juice, we've been learning about the 8 life transforming one-sentence prayers that have changed my life. One of those I learned to pray over my home and schedule - Lord, direct me. When I see my tell, I return to that place of prayer, surrender my day to Him and ask for His direction.
Through prayer and with the guidance of my husband's wisdom, I make choices. I make these decisions long before they're needed. They are my ultimate protection against burnout.
My children only enroll in a limited number of activities.
I only speak a certain number of times per month.
My children have friends to play a determined amount of times.
I say yes to an exclusive number of ministry opportunities.
This system of careful choices prevents burnout before it can begin.
I once heard a pastor's wife quip, "To be successful in ministry, you have to fly under the radar and above the fray." There is real wisdom in this but the best place to fly is in the shadow of His wing. With His radar and utilizing this Early Warning System, we'll be in the ministry sweet spot - far from burnout.
Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.
She is the author of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life. She presents the gift of prayer in her free 30 day prayer guide PrePrayed: Preparing for Life’s Events. She is a frequently published author. Most recently, she was a contributing author to Always There: Reflections for Mom’s on God’s Presence.
As a speaker, Shannon is straight forward about her own struggles. She is a compassionate advocate fighting for victory in the life of her audience with a message of hope and encouragement.
When not writing or speaking, she enjoys her favorite job of wife to Scott and mom to four daughters from kindergarten to high school.