Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Rest and burnout

God has ordained rest. And while many people in the UK find their sense of personal value in work I would suggest again that many of us would serve God, family and church more effectively if we rested more. Taking a training illustration from the world of swimming – research on college swimmers in the US shows that every year 10% of this group experience ‘burn-out’ because they overtrain. They train so much and put in so many lengths they reach a point where performance drops off.

In the last couple of years I have sat with at least two pastors who are experiencing burnout – both significantly. When we are serving God, called by Him, we may feel trapped by our call. We serve not some shareholder in a firm but the Owner of Everything! This can magnify our sense of responsibility and drive us to overwork and so to underperform.

We all come to understand the goldfish bowl of Christian ministry. This is what I referred to when I talked about the wedding reception. That for us, work, church and friendship are all integrated and it’s sometimes impossible to know where one ends and another begins. So you can feel you’re on duty all the time. Living in this bubble means we can get ‘peopled out’. Some of you are far better at handling this – your capacity for people is greater at the moment! But note – this message is relevant to you and I know this because of some research done by Sean Gubb from the Farnham Church. Sean surveyed lead elders within Newfrontiers churches and 70% of you responded. 30% didn’t… I was one of the 30%. Why didn’t I respond? Because I was too busy, ok? Or I had such excellent boundaries - I was resting and didn’t do it…