Monday, July 9, 2012

Five Tips for Avoiding Ministry Burnout

{Pastor Curtis and Monique Zackery}
Being in ministry is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The ability to serve others and share the Gospel brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment like nothing else. Over the years, however, I’ve picked up a few hard-learned lessons about ministry burnout, and how to avoid it. In this PW* role it is easy to become overextended, or caught up in a false sense of guilt when we can’t meet every need {or expectation} that arises. These simple tools have become staples along my journey and have helped me find rest in the middle of the busy.

So without further delay, here are five PW tips for avoiding ministry burnout.

1. Color Code Your Calendar - About three years ago I started color-coding my calendar. Everything in orange was ministry. Home and family activities were blue, school was green, and “me time” was purple. I had no idea how much ministry I was involved in until I saw it in color. There was orange all over that calendar! At one point I remember looking over my schedule and realizing I had two months of orange commitments before I had a purple day off to breathe. It was severely unbalanced and I was probably beginning to look like a zombie. 

The first step to avoiding burnout is to take an inventory of your current commitments. See if you have an imbalance somewhere and adjust as needed.

2. Learn to Use Your “No” – For some of you, saying “no” might come as a breeze. But for others of us, saying “no” can prove to be difficult, especially when we’re put on the spot. However, it is possible to master the art of saying “no” gracefully.

Although I love to plan events or join a new Bible Study in a heartbeat, I’ve had to learn phrases like, “Wow, that sounds like a great idea. Let me pray about how {or if} I am to be involved and I’ll get back to you.” This provides time to talk to God, look at my color-calendar, and consider what I’m taking on before using my “yes.”

3. Stop People Pleasing – When pleasing God is the focus there is freedom to be your self and operate in your calling without trying to fill a faulty notion of what a PW should  be. When we focus on the beauty of the cross our service is compelled by Christ’s love instead of a sense of obligation to people. 

My husband has been instrumental in helping me to grasp this truth. He has so graciously reminded me that I don’t have to be at every single church event, every time the doors open just because I'm a PW. There’s so much freedom in realizing that it’s totally okay to stay home on a Wednesday night if I’m feeling depleted. It’s okay! :)

4. Schedule Time for Rest – At our former church, our women’s ministry director, Kristi, started a series on rest. She reminded us that: 1) rest is a command, 2) God desires rest for us, and 3) He exemplified it for us on the seventh day (although He never grows tired). As a result, she started “Listening Prayers” for us, which were periodic mornings of rest.

During “Listening Prayers” we gathered in someone’s home. Then we chose separate spots around the house. One would take the couch, while another took the guest room and another sat on the patio or the tree swing.

For about 45 minutes we would all just sit in the silence, soaking in the morning sun. Some moms would come for a moment away, bring a pillow and just sleep the whole time. Others used it as a time to seek the Lord, and listen. It was a scheduled time of rest, and it was glorious! I learned that this intentional rejuvenating practice should be added to our calendars on a regular basis. It's worth it!

5. Stay Connected to The Vine – The last point is the most important. We’re all familiar with the famous John 15 teaching of The Vine and the branches. In it Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The moment we find our strength withering away in ministry is a perfect time to reflect on whether or not we are remaining connected to the Source of Life. These are the instances to remember Jesus’ special invitation to “come.” This is how we “draw our strength from the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

So, dear sister, “Let us not become weary {or burned out} in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9). 


Monique Zackery

*PW- Pastor's Wife


Monique Zackery, Contributing Author

Monique is a pastor's wife in Northern California. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life. She is the author of the blog Finding Me in You, where she openly shares and encourages others with the lessons God is teaching her on identity and fulfillment in Christ. Furthermore, Monique has a passion for abolishing modern day slavery in this lifetime and has recently partnered with Abolition International as a public advocate and church partnership coordinator. She is currently working toward a degree in Leadership in Ministry and hopes to complete a Masters in Counseling as a tool to aid in the healing of her community and rescued victims of slavery. Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to the ultimate Healer, Jesus. 

To learn more about Curtis & Monique Zackery's mission visit


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