Preventing Burnout

Preventing Burnout

This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Preventing Burnout course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.


Have you ever experienced burnout? It’s a state of mental and physical exhaustion, caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

There are three stages of burnout:

  1. Stressed: Characterized by anxiety symptoms.
  2. Overwhelmed: Characterized by decreasing performance, increased negativity, withdrawal, and attempts to medicate the symptoms.
  3. Crispy: Characterized by depression symptoms.

While the process can be stopped at any point, it’s generally in the crispy stage that people begin to sense that something is wrong.

What Causes Burnout?

There are several factors that can contribute to burnout:

  • Bad Theology
    • Many Christians have gotten the message that to deny oneself means to live in denial of one’s humanity. Somewhere along the line we got the message that serving wholeheartedly means neglecting the needs God has created our bodies with as well as the command to regularly practice sabbath rest.
  • Misplaced Priorities, Identity, Value, and Worth
    • When our priorities, identity, value, or worth are misplaced, we feel the only way to have significance or be worthy is to work without ceasing. We can never do enough, and we feel guilty if we aren’t working. We need to achieve or to please others. This need to earn our worth or the approval and acceptance of others drives us to an unhealthy, out of balance life. Our fear of disappointing others or failure causes us to say “Yes” when we should say “No”.
  • Unrealistic Expectations
    • For some the answer to “How much should I give?” is always MORE. Nothing is ever good enough and we live with a constant feeling of guilt, that we aren’t doing enough.
  • Poor Work and Personal Boundaries
    • Many of us struggle to know when we should say YES and how to say NO. As a result, we commit ourselves to more than we should, and we allow others control our lives.
  • Inadequate Self-Care
    • You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot lead others where you yourself have not gone. If you do not take good care of yourself, how then do you love others “in the same way” you do yourself and have that be a blessing to them?

To dive deeper into this topic of burnout, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.

How Can We Prevent Burnout?

The only way to live life to the fullest, as God intends for you, is to be diligent about spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual self-care.

Spiritual Self Care
Spiritual self-care is about making space in your life to pursue an ever-deepening relationship with our King. While discipline and structure are helpful, you have to resist “checking the box”. Give yourself permission to stop what isn’t working and pursue connection with God in ways that give life to your soul. Make space in your life to learn of the spiritual disciplines of saints of old, both the ones in your life and those you can read about.

Physical Self Care
Neglecting the care of our body inhibits our ability to serve God and enjoy life to its fullest. The four main components of physical self care are exercise, diet, sleep, and rest.

Emotional Self Care
How you manage your emotional energy is HUGELY influential in your ability to engage life effectively. There are things that increase your emotional energy reserves and things that drain them. Being familiar with the two and judicious about navigating them is key.

Understand that unresolved conflict and wounds from your life experiences don’t just go away if you ignore them. Good emotional self care involves taking the time to find healing and resolution to these things so you don’t keep carrying them around.

Have Boundaries. Know the people and activities that charge your batteries emotionally and those that drain you. Place limits on the people and activities that drain you, so they don’ suck you dry, and be intentional about making time for the people and activities that add to your emotional energy reserves.

Intellectual Self Care
Keep learning. God gave you a brain, an intellect you are either growing it or it is atrophying, there’s no staying in the same place. Use it or lose it. The business of life can seem to leave no time for professional or educational development, but it’s important. Read books, articles, listen to podcast, watch videos, take classes. Leaders are readers.

Appreciate the candid feedback of others and seek out thoughtful dissenting voices. You may not agree with them but learning to listen and earnestly ask questions will guarantee you learn a lot and make better decisions.

Moving Forward

If you’re already deep into burnout you may need to take an extended break, anywhere from a week vacation to a year sabbatical, to revive and re-calibrate your life. If you don’t, you leave yourself vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.

Until your death or the return of our King, you have value to offer. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you otherwise or prematurely knock you out of the race. Be aware of the schemes of our enemy and develop the self care disciplines that will empower a lifetime of effective Kingdom ministry.

Cheering you on!


Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of burnout, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.

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