Exercise your mind and body. Physical exercise helps in dealing
with the everyday stresses of life. So have some plan to get out
and exercise. Take a daily walk, visit the gym, or join the church
softball team (my favorite).
Mental and emotional well-being is very important to avoiding
burnout, too. Exercise your mind through reading, learning, and
other mind-stimulating exercises for better emotional health
that’ll allow more resiliency in everything you do. As Richard
Swenson points out in his book Margin, “When we are emotionally
resilient, we can confront our problems with a sense of hope and
power. When our psychic reserves are depleted, however, we are
seriously weakened. Emotional overload saps our strength, paralyzes
our resolve, and maximizes our vulnerability.”
Develop your ministry skills. Your growth is essential to staying
engaged with your ministry and avoiding burnout. Of course, you
depend on God to truly accomplish his purposes in your ministry,
but simply knowing how to do what you’re being asked to do relieves
a great deal of stress and frustration. There are many ways to grow
and develop your ministry skills, including:
• Attend a children’s ministry training event, such as a
Children’s Ministry Magazine LIVE workshop.
• Read resource books and materials on topics such as children’s
ministry, communication, leadership, and personal
Kids LOVE these Sunday School resources!
• Subscribe to e-newsletters, such as my quarterly e-newsletter
e-newsletters at cmmag.com.
• Ask a more experienced person to teach and mentor you.
• Find children’s ministry network meetings to attend and
Understand your ministry’s place. Your ministry has a tremendously
important place in your life, but it isn’t the only thing to invest
yourself in. Besides taking care of other responsibilities, allow
time for fun, other areas of interest, and relaxation.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that had a
profound influence on the rest of his life. One winter when he was
9, he walked across a snow-covered field with his reserved,
no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the
field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the
snow, straight and true, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering
all over the field.
“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the
cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how
my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in
that.” Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how
this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy of life.
“I determined right then,” he’d say, “not to miss most things in
life, as my uncle had.”
Pray. When Jesus “got away from it all,” what did he do?
Invariably, Jesus prayed. Praying can do everything from helping us
“vent” (yes, we can share our frustrations with the Lord), to
simply allowing us to sit quietly (how often does that happen?).
Prayer is the instrument God provides for us to have two-way
communication with the Creator of the universe, yet we neglect to
God says to “pray without ceasing,” yet we often “cease to pray”
when burnout nears. God wants to support us, to empower us in what
he’s called us to do. Isaiah 64:4 says, “For since the world began,
no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for
those who wait for him!” (NLT). Yes, God wants to “work for us” and
one of the primary ways we can “wait for him” is through the avenue
In the end, our friend Elijah was a burnout survivor. As he came
before the Lord, God gently guided him to the next step in his
ministry. In fact, God blessed Elijah with an assistant, Elisha
(which is another great way to help avoid burnout-find an
assistant. But that’s another article.). As you faithfully serve
God in your ministry to little ones, stay F.I.R.E.D. U.P. instead
of burned out.
Greg Baird is founder and director of Kids in Focus, a
children’s ministry training and coaching ministry (www.kidsinfocus.org).
Pay close attention to these burnout symptoms from Psalm 22.
• A Sense of Distance From God-“My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far
from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you
do not answer, by night, and am not silent” (verses 1-2).
• A Sense of Diminished Value-“But I am a worm
and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who
see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (verses
• A Sense of Dissipating Energy-“I am poured out
like water, and my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to
wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a
potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” (verses
Watch out for burnout if you have any of these contributing
• A sense of too much to do
• Being ill-equipped to handle responsibilities
• Personal or family stresses
• Personality or relationship challenges
• Poor alignment of gifts and abilities
• An inability to say “no”
• Physical health challenges
• Little or no support from supervisors