Avoiding Ministry Burnout

Originally published Tuesday, 07 January 2014.

I love what I get the God-given opportunity to do in the ministry. I love working with churches, pastors, and anyone who has a heart to serve others. What a special group of people! When speaking to you, there is a common theme among the discussion. “I’m tired. Am I making a difference? How do I keep pushing through?”

I know what you mean. I’ve been there so many times. Even with the grace-giving hand of God so abundantly blessing the work of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, there is still that little voice inside me that asks, “Am I making a difference? Should I be doing this? I’m exhausted; how can I go on?” If you’ve served in ministry in any capacity, you know the feeling all-too-well. Here are some words of advice:

  1. Know your role. When we understand that our role is not to be Jesus, we then understand that we do not have to fix the world. We are not in the business of fixing others. We are in the business of pointing people to the One who can. Our role is to continue to direct people to the Lord Jesus as their source of strength, courage, patience, and prayer answerer.
  2. Rest. In the early years of ministry, this was the hardest. Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am driven, a hard worker, passionate. Single moms’ ministry keeps me up at night. It burns within me. And there is much work to be done in this area of service. But we must rest. We must take time to simply sleep, sit on the couch with nothing to do, and do nothing. It is vital to our effectiveness in ministry.
  3. Set boundaries. Whatever the boundaries are, stick to them. For example, if you will be able to return phone calls between 5pm-7pm every night, then do that. Don’t the need to return phone calls all day. Or maybe you have set aside the second Saturday of every month as “lunch with a single mom day”. Then stick to it. The needs will always be there. It is important that you find boundaries that work for you and your family and understand that for your own health, you need to stick to them. This is especially important as your ministry grows.
  4. Stay spiritually healthy. You cannot give, when you do not receive. Stay in the Word. Stay in prayer. Continue with regular church attendance. Pray without ceasing. All the things that have contributed to your journey with the Lord are the things that will sustain that journey as you minister to others.
  5. Accountability is healthy. Your ministry should be structured such that you are accountable to your pastor, a mentor, or a church leader. They see things that we sometimes can’t, when we are knee-deep in ministry. They offer perspective. They help to keep us safe. They offer advice.
  6. Sabbaticals are important. Know when it is time for an extended rest. For me, I have always taken extended time during the summer, when my kids are out of school. We don’t host our regular meetings during the summer. We host some summer events, but not with the regularity that we do during the school year. We also take time off during holidays. This allows for a time of refreshing, extended family time, and perspective.

Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and founder of The LIfe of a Single Mom Ministries. Through her own mistakes, Maggio is passionate about sharing her journey with other single parents to encourage and equip them, teaching them to embrace the love of Christ. She believes the body of Christ can make a significant impact in the lives of single parent families. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com