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Ministry Burn-out

blog burn

No matter the service to the Church, there are times when any of us could fall prey to burnout.

Sunday School teachers can grow tired of lesson plans and disobedient students, deacons can lose motivation to get up early on a Sunday to make sure the sidewalks are cleared off or come to find the fellowship area cluttered from a youth activity the night before. Pastors can wake up on a Monday wondering if they have the strength to continue leading and counseling wayward people.

When an announcement is made for the need for more Sunday School or nursery workers, you might sense a wave of exhaustion come over you.

A culture of tired ministry can have serious ramifications to the health of the body and before long no one wants to do anything. Ministry starts to become a burden.

Here’s what Jesus said:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

No one worked harder than the Apostle Paul. To consider his ministry easy and light seems to fly into conflict with that reality.

I don’t know about you but when I see how Paul poured all of himself into the work of the Lord it makes me a little ashamed when I can’t find the motivation to help another believer through hardship or take time to help little ones learn the basics of Biblical truth. But Paul’s life wasn’t supposed to be a guilt trip. It should be inspirational.

The answer to your tired soul when it comes to ministry isn’t to simply “try harder” or “be better”. Paul’s ministry is inspirational when we consider how he poured so much of himself into God’s will, yet could still say the yoke Jesus laid on him was light and the burden was easy.

Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthians:

“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”  (1Cor 15:9-10)  

This takes a couple excuses off the table. Feeling unworthy is not an excuse because “worthiness” is not a prerequisite for grace, unworthiness is. Ministry being too hard isn’t an excuse because, just like Paul, your hard work is really the work of grace.

After reflecting on Paul’s ability to serve through grace and Jesus' promise that serving him brings rest, it comes together to shape something profound:

Serving Christ is rest. 

I’m a church planter. I work 40 hours a week, disciple the lost, disciple my kids, prepare for sermons, evangelize, prepare and preach Sunday sermons… and write a blog.

Now that’s more than most, but I’m no apostle Paul.

What I can say is that never once have I ever been burned out. I’ve never tired of the work. It isn’t because I’m the standard of tenacity. It’s because Sam is a weak man strengthened by the grace of God. My rest is in his service.

Next time there’s an opportunity to serve your Church, see it as an opportunity to take the easy yoke. See it as an opportunity to experience a light burden.

It’s time to take Jesus at his word.

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”