4 Ways For Church Leaders To Avoid Burnout

Posted by James Thiessen on Mar 30, 2016 8:00:00 AM

As a church leader, finding your church-life balance is a major key to having longevity in your ministry. When life gets busy, there needs to be some sort of structure in place that allows you to take the time to get your own needs met. If you spend all of your time doing ministry and pouring yourself out for other people while neglecting your own needs, you will start to see the signs of leadership burn out. This article gives you 4 practical ways to avoid burnout and find church-life balance.



Here are 4 things you can do to Avoid Burnout:

1. Set Clear Priorities

When you are busy, it is necessary to set clear priorities in your life so that it is easier to make decisions about what is important. Making a list of your priorities helps you to focus on what matters and can even help you identify what is wrong if you feel burnt out.

Here is an example of how your list of priorities could look:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Healthy Self
  3. Connection with Family
  4. Church Leadership
  5. Football

In the example it has your relationship with God should be your #1 priority. As a Christian that one is a given. Next on the list is to take care of yourself. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you will struggle to take care of other people. If you keep neglecting yourself and just pouring your life into other people you will end up burning out. After that comes your connection with your family. 1 Timothy 3 talks about the importance of being able to manage your own family before managing a church. Having everything in your home in order and feeling connected to your family will set you up for success for the next priority; church leadership. If any of the 3 top priorities are being neglected, you will likely feel drained or some sort of pressure because a greater need isn’t being met. Having a great connection with God, your self, and your family will give you the confidence to pour into others. Football is next on the list, I like to make the argument that watching football is a key to a healthy self, but that’s probably just my own conviction.

Having a list like this is a great way to show yourself visually what is most important to you. After making the list comes the hard part if actually making hard decisions based upon your priorities. It’s in the moments that you choose your higher priorities that you feel the power and effectiveness of this exercise. It means choosing to spend time connecting with your family even when you could be working on your new church website. Those kind of decisions set you up for a balanced life.

2. Build A Strong Leadership Team Around 

In order to be a great leader in your church you need a strong team of powerful and capable people on your team. If you are carrying the load all by yourself, you need to surround yourself with people that can help you. You can’t do it all yourself and not burn out. Having a team allows you to delegate tasks, which frees up time and relieves you from having all the pressure on you. To build a well-rounded team, find people with strengths that are complementary to yours. If you are a dreamer who tends to think about the big picture, find someone for your team who is great at executing those day-to-day tasks that make those dreams happen. A strong team made up of people with different skill sets and strengths will help to set church leaders up for a balanced life.

3. Have Good Boundaries

Another key to finding balance is learning how to say ‘No” and having strong boundaries. There are endless things you could be doing and places you could be serving and without any boundaries it can be very overwhelming. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend say it best in their book Boundaries, “A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.” Boundaries allow to spend your time doing the things that matter most and focus on the things that you are responsible for.

4. Intentional Rest

Consistent and intentional rest is the best way to avoid burnout in church and in life. With how busy we can be these days, rest is something that needs to be done on purpose. Write it into your calendar just like you would any other meeting. Sometimes we forget that taking a Sabbath is one of the 10 commandments. If you aren’t taking care of yourself then you will find it hard to take care of others. Rest can look different for every person. It can be a full day of relaxing at home, or it could be going on a hike in the mountains. Whatever it is, find what recharges you the best and make it a part of your schedule.


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Topics: ministry

James Thiessen

Written by James Thiessen

James grew up in Canada until he married an American and moved to sunny California. He came to the US with a marketing degree and a go-getter attitude in pursuit of the American dream.