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Enrichment Journal - Enriching and Equipping Spirit-filled Ministers

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Twelve Steps Toward Recovery From Burnout

  1. Learn at least one relaxation technique and practice it on a regular basis. This helps to rest critical components of the body’s emergency system.

  2. Balance life by exercising regularly. Good physical conditioning strengthens the body’s immune system and increases endorphins that are the brain’s natural tranquilizers.

  3. Get proper rest. Allow adequate time for sleep. Contrary to what was taught in a previous generation, most people need more sleep than they get. Adrenal arousal reduces one’s need for sleep. But this is a trap, and people ultimately pay the penalty for it.

  4. Learn to be flexible. Only the gospel is unchanging. One’s ideas and priorities may need to change. Flexibility reduces the likelihood of frustration.

  5. Slow down. Remember, God is never in a hurry. Hurriedness is a human characteristic caused by inadequate planning and poor time management. Hurry speeds up the wear and tear of one’s body and mind and increases the production of destructive adrenaline.

  6. Learn constructive ways of dealing with anger. The gospel is a gospel of forgiveness. Dispense forgiveness liberally to those who hurt you. Remember, anger is a signal that something is wrong with one’s environment, or it is evidence that one is in a fight-or-flight mode. Identify the source and confront it assertively.

  7. Pay attention to little hassles; they are more likely to kill you than the big ones. The everyday, minor irritations are the deadliest. Keep them to a minimum.

  8. Develop the ability to be empathetic as you care for others and keep sympathy under control. Understand your own neurotic needs and do not allow them to affect the way you pastor.

  9. Focus your ministry on essentials. Reduce redundancies, eliminate unnecessary activities, avoid demands that will stretch you too thin, and learn how to say no kindly, without giving offense and without experiencing a sense of guilt.

  10. Stay in touch with reality. One’s ambitions must not outrun the limits of his capabilities. Seek honest feedback from trusted friends on your talents, then, pray for wisdom and set your sights accordingly. Aiming too high at unrealistic goals to satisfy an unsanctified ambition will only lead to burnout.

  11. Avoid states of helplessness by taking control and implementing a coping strategy no matter how minor. Helplessness is often an erroneous belief that a person is trapped and no solutions are possible. Exercise faith, believe that solutions are possible, and break out of the helplessness cycle.

  12. If you cannot resolve a major conflict in your life, leave it and move on if necessary. Notions of being superhuman often keep people in severe conflict situations. People believe they should be able to master every circumstance, and this can lead to a destructive persistence. Even Jesus was hindered in what He could do (Matthew 13:58) and had to move on. Why not you?

Finally, do not be afraid to seek professional help when needed.

Archibald Hart, Arcadia, California.

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