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Flame Out

Bernadette O’Shea

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You're Alone
Even though children's ministry can be very rewarding, it can also be a lonely place to serve. Sometimes children's ministry leaders struggle with making connections outside of their ministry, and when they have struggles it can feel as if they have nowhere to turn. If something were to happen and you needed a helping hand or someone to talk to, do you have anyone outside of your church you could go to for help?

Without others to talk with, stress and pressure can build up inside us until we can no longer bear the burden. I've seen too many overworked children's ministers walk away, fail morally, or suffer health problems because of bearing burdens all by themselves. Find help through a counselor, mentor, or trusted friend. Most importantly, go to God to restore your relationship with him. God promises never to deny a broken and contrite heart.


Burnout Backdraft at Home

What happens when your ministry burnout spreads into your home? When you're out of energy, your home life can suffer and you can end up neglecting your spouse, kids, and friends. In addition, your family can burn out on ministry if you're not careful.
Here's a simple self-test to see if your home life is in jeopardy.

  • Do you and your family or friends do things outside of your church?
  • Does your family have friends outside of your church family?
  • Is family and friendship time free from church responsibilities and obligations?
  • Are you being a leader for your family like you're being a leader for your church?
  • Do your children, spouse, and friends feel they're more important than your church and staff?
  • Do you enjoy being with your spouse, children, and friends?

If you answered no to half or more of these questions, pay careful attention that the people you love the most don't get burned by your ministry.

If you answered yes to half or all, ask your spouse or a close friend to take the same test on your behalf and compare your answers.
Ministry service requires a partnership and sacrifice. It's important to keep in mind that the flames of burnout can spread throughout your loved ones. Family counseling, mentor couples, and accountability partners are all excellent sources to use as you serve in ministry.

If you think you're not at risk to burn out in ministry, you're in denial. Be realistic. Recognize you're human and will have struggles. Put in place key people who you and your family and friends can trust to walk beside you as you serve. Set up healthy boundaries and don't be afraid to say no. Make time for a day of rest. Stay fit physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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