Life is stressful and filled with all kinds of stressors. If you are a parent, you might be doing back-to-school shopping already, realizing that school is back in session in weeks.

If you have been juggling work, kid's summer break, and vacation, you might be looking for some relaxation but not finding it.

Over the next ten weeks, I want to give us a roadmap for re-entering our busy fall season and share how we can build into ourselves to reduce our stress and anxiety while growing our time for the things that matter most.

For the next four weeks, we will work through a series titled Flame Out as we explore areas of our lives that cause us to burn out.

After we understand how to move from flaming out to fearless, we will explore the elements of living a focused life.

We will conclude our focused life series with a two-part conversation with Isaac Smith, Director of Academy & Accelerator for The Focus Course.


Burnout is alive and well in our society today. Employees knew they were riding the red line but seemed to push through with it an “easy” button only to find out their mental and physical health was taking a beating.

According to a 2020 Gallup survey, 69% of participants either sometimes or always experience burnout.1

Furthermore, participants, the survey found participants who reported some experience with burnout were:

“63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.”2

These are staggering statistics when you think about what it might affect our mental and physical health.

The Cleveland Clinic shared in an article titled What Is Burnout?

“You may not realize you’ve hit burnout until it’s too late when you’ve crossed the line between “really tired” and “too exhausted to function.”3

They also said,

“Burnout also happens when your work-life balance gets out of sync. This has been a common occurrence in the last few years, with the rise in remote work and technology permeating our daily lives.”

As we see from the statistics, it is scary to see what burnout can do to our physical and mental health.

If burnout is hitting our mental and physical health, imagine what it is doing to our spiritual health.

Spiritual Burnout

Spiritual burnout affects the pastorate as much as it infiltrates the congregants. Pastors feel an increased pressure to perform.

Pastors have goals for church growth, financial pressures, staff conflicts, time constraints, teaching preparation, visitations, and the list continues.

In her book, Fear Gone Wild, Kayla Stoecklein shares the tragic story of her husband’s death by suicide, her understanding of mental illness, and the hope she found after the darkness.

In a 2013 article titled Why Are So Many Pastors Committing Suicide?, the author cites some statistics from the Schaeffer Institute, which reads,

“70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend.”4

If we think burnout is only for some people, then we are wrong. Burnout affects anyone and potentially everyone. It does not matter if you are super spiritual or an atheist – burnout knows no nationality, color, race, or religious affiliation.

Can We Recover From Spiritual Burnout?

The simple answer is yes, just like we can recover from mental or physical burnout, but the road will be tough, and we must put in the work.

In that same 2013 article, the author quotes Jennifer LeClaire saying that it all “starts with Scripture”5,

“If we want to win the battle against suicide in the pulpit and the pew, we need to, among many other things, take ahold of Scriptures that instruct us about the battle in our mind…If we do what the Word says—if we meditate on what the Word tells us to meditate on—the enemy’s seeds won’t take root in our souls.”6

Winning the battle in our mind is easier said than done. Some evangelicals believe you can pray depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues away.

When tragedy strikes, they quickly point out that you must have had sin in your life, you didn’t pray hard enough, or something else.


How do I pray harder? Was I supposed to fast and pray? Just pray. Just fast. On my knees, in a chair, what?

I don’t believe it’s that simple.

If you are spiritually burned out, you don’t want to pray or fast. You don’t have any desire to. You probably don’t even want to listen to a sermon about how great someone else’s life is going.

The truth is… we need help to overcome our spiritual burnout, and even then, it may not help or fix the issue.

Baby Steps

To overcome any form of burnout, baby steps are needed. Just as when we were a child, we learned to crawl before we walked or ran.

Go To Scripture

The same is true of our spiritual lives. We must take baby steps. If you are struggling to read the Bible, read one verse.

Before you read that verse, say a simple prayer, Lord, please teach me something in this one verse. Amen.

You don’t have to drag the prayer out or do it in front of people; just ask quickly.

Here are a few verses to get you started:

“Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you.” — 1 Peter 5:7

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.” – Ephesians 6:18a

“ …take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17b

When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we can recall it when we are under attack.

Ask For Help

As we have seen, burnout can isolate us and tear us from our friends and family. To combat it, we need to be in a community with others.

However, we need to trust the people we are asking for help. As I see it, there are several groups of people we can reach out to for help:

  1. Professionals – trained counselors (biblical or secular), mental health experts, therapists
  2. Family – letting family members into our struggles helps them walk beside us, encourage us, and pray with and for us.
  3. Friends – trusted individuals who you can share your struggles with that will pray for you, encourage and hold you accountable. These people must not be prone to gossip and be able to hold information strictly confidential.

You can probably think of others who can help, and for anyone struggling with burnout, I encourage you to seek and get help.

Once again, it is easier said than done.


I have experienced burnout in my work and my spiritual life. I went through spiritual burnout after an extremely difficult term on our church’s elder board. It burned me so badly that I didn’t attend church physically for months as I recovered.

We never know the struggles people are facing, whether at work or church, or in our community. If you are struggling with burnout, tell someone.

Your burnout may not lead to depression or suicide, but maybe you need a vacation or an extended time away.

According to, in 2018, 768 million vacation days were never used.7

Vacation time is an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. It helps reset our bodies, souls, and minds. If you think a vacation will fix your weary soul or your burnout, it probably won’t, but it can help get you on a path to healing and restoration.

The Lord never intended us to go full tilt at life and burn ourselves up. It is tragic to see pastors, ministry leaders, and our general population flame out. I don’t want this for you or me.

This week, take a few minutes to reset your soul with a scripture and a quick 30-second prayer. Let’s all start there this week and see how God works in our lives.

And, I want to reiterate, if you are battling burnout, depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. Talk to someone today.


Lord, you never intended us to run full tilt and burn ourselves up. You created us to be in community with You and to thrive in a relationship with you. Please give us peace and comfort this week. And if anyone is struggling with burnout that could lead to some tragic end, I ask you to intervene and to meet them where they are at powerfully as only you can. We thank you and praise you for your work. You are doing in us. Amen!

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Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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