Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Running On Empty

When growing up back home in St. Pauls, as school was dismissed each day, the familar sound of teenagers reeving their engines and burning out their tires once exiting the parking lot was a daily tradition. To signal the end of another laborious school day, the screeching of rubber against road symbolized that of the student against the school. But as I have noticed over the past few years, "burning out" can mean much more than a smell or a noise.

Unfortunately, when it comes to work in the ministry, it is very easy for those who lead or are heavily involved to be burned out. When it comes to stepping up and filling in when others fail to, or the long hours it takes to plan, execute, and break down weekly worship activities, the demands of servant leaders are strenuous ones indeed. But looking beyond the actual physical work of ministry is the effect that such work has on the spirituality of the individual. Especially for me, instead of letting myself be lost in the eloquent words of an invited speaker, I often find myself checking my watch out of habit, to make sure that the schedule is running along smoothly. By the time that I'm collected enough to invest in a message, it is already done and people are walking out the door.

Being involved in campus ministry for all 4 years of undergrad, I have both experienced and seen countless people deal with the problem of burning out. Like most issues people face, acknowledging that there is a problem is the first key to fixing it. Then, being able to step away from what is burning you out is key because if you don't then you will continue to suffer and there is greater potential for your ministry to suffer because of it. Finally, taking those steps which only a individual can take to refocus and recharge before reentering any ministry position is key to the further spiritual growth of the person and whatever ministry they will be involved in in the future.

So, as the summer quickly approaches, I look forward to taking a brief self-sabbatical of sorts, to refocus and reenergize myself for the upcoming year. Time to learn how to kick back now.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Amen. Working on the paper for 2.5 years burned me to the core, especially being editor. I took a sabbatical this semester and it was a great decision. Sometimes we just have to let other people run the show.