Last week, we kicked off a brand new series titled Flame Out. As I was thinking through the series, I realized that burnout may describe me or some of us today, but God wants us to know that we need to be fearless in our pursuit of eradicating burnout from our minds and souls.
So…I am changing the series titled from Flame Out to Flame Out to Fearless which better represents what we want God to do in us and thru us.
This week, I want to explore burnout a little more and give you some practical ways to tackle burnout and begin to reshape your body, mind, and soul so you can live the life God wants for you.
If you visit Amazon and search for books on burnout, there is no shortage. Here’s a sampling:
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
- Burnout Recovery
- From Burnout to Purpose
- The Burnout Fix
- The HBR Guide to Beating Burnout
Last week, we highlighted the epidemic of burnout facing the church. The workplace is experiencing similar struggles as well as our health care system.
Pre-pandemic, Gallup identified five causes of employee burnout:
- Unreasonable time pressure
- Lack of communication and support from a manager
- Lack of role clarity
- Unmanageable workload
- Unfair treatment1
Once the pandemic hit, workplace stress rose as parents moved to remote working, became primary educators, and navigated other family situations.
Even after two-plus years of the pandemic, schools are back in session, and workplaces are adapting, but the workload continues to remain high along with the performance pressures.
In its simplest form, the Working Genius assessment centers around the WIDGET (Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, and Tenacity) framework that helps you assess your:
- Working Genius – the things that bring you joy and excitement and help you operate in the strength zone.
- Working Frustrations – the things that drain you consistently
- Working Competencies – the things you can do but if done too much will drive you to burnout.
Each person has two letters in each category based on the assessment. Here are my results:
- Working Genius – Wonder (W) and Enablement (E)
- Working Competency – Invention (I) and Discernment (D)
- Working Frustration – Galvanizing (G) and Tenacity (T)
In summary, I love to dream and be creative while helping others be successful. I can discern good ideas and create them, but I would get exhausted if I had to do this all the time. And I get exhausted, always having to garner people and get things done.
Where do you think I spend most of my work time? You would be correct if you said in my Working Competency and Frustration.
Check out The 6 Types of Working Genius
The healthcare industry is facing similar struggles to the workplace. Doctor burnout is a real thing as well.
“The 2019 National Physician Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Report found that 44 percent of physicians experience burnout.2
When we hear statistics like this, we get concerned because doctors are supposed to help us, but who helps them?
Burnout hits everyone differently, but we can take steps to curb our burnout; let’s look at some strategies now.
Curbing burnout starts with a tough first step. We need to recognize burnout and acknowledge that it exists in us.
Just as addicts need to acknowledge they have a problem, we need to acknowledge it so we can begin to heal.
As we saw last week, if burnout goes unchecked in our lives, it can lead to disastrous health results like depression, mental health, and suicide.
Let’s kick burnout to the curb!
Curbing Burnout with Vacation
Vacations are important. They serve the real purpose of helping us set aside stressful work and let us disconnect from the grind of our busy lives.
Vacations invite us to go away and rest awhile. For me, I find rest in an environment that is not like my every day. I love being around nature, visiting National Parks or doing a day or two road trips, taking pictures, and even sitting reading a book.
Your vacation experience may be in an RV, chilling at the beach, or biking across the mountains. Whatever it is and whoever it is with, put your phone down and let your busy life go to voicemail.
Curbing Burnout with Hobbies
Throughout our lives, we have been told that we work until retirement, and then we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The struggle is we are not guaranteed tomorrow let alone life after we retire.
Over the last two weeks, I have heard of a couple of folks that passed away weeks before their projected retirement dates. Maybe the millennials figured something out that their previous generations didn’t learn – enjoy your time today because tomorrow may never come.
When all we have is work…we just have work, but what happens when work is no longer there?
I tell folks if I could retire today, I would because I have plenty of other fun things I would love to do, but right now, my paycheck funds my hobbies like photography, traveling, mission work, and this podcast.
Work is good and serves a beautiful purpose, but I encourage you to get a hobby to reduce your stress level. You might find that you have a hidden talent. Try something new today!
Curbing Burnout with Cooking
So…I am not a cook, just ask my future bride, but she loves to cook and finds it relaxing. Shawn Blanc loves to cook and has created some incredible food.
Cooking takes your mind off the immediate pressures of the day and lets you sink into a different world fueled with yummy tasty treats.
You could couple this activity with a date night with your spouse or have friends over to enjoy your latest cuisine. You must eat anyway, so why not enjoy the process and learn something new?
Curbing Burnout with Exercise
Years ago, I used to coach high school cross country and run trails; now…not so much, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I was on the trails.
My bucket list has a 50 and 100 miler on the list for completion, but I have to get back out there and do it.
Exercise releases hormones in our body that help us heal. Walking or running is good for releasing mental stress. You can listen to your favorite tunes or that novel you haven’t had time to read or my favorite crime podcasts.
The more we exercise, the more likely we will have improved mental and physical health. Some addicts have replaced their “bad” addiction with a “physical health” addiction.
Maybe we should take a page from the healthy addict's playbook and get out there and exercise.
Curbing Burnout with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the new buzzword for meditation, yoga, or spiritual practice that helps someone beat back stress in their lives.
I know many believers that spend their mornings doing yoga or sitting quietly listening for the Holy Spirit to speak with them.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be some crazy practice but a few minutes each morning or evening just to sit and be still.
If your lifestyle is anything like mine, a few minutes of peace is harder to achieve than you might think.
This past week, I had a pretty stressful day, and I went into a little lounge area for a quick two-minute nap. I just needed two minutes to myself to recharge. Everyone that walked by asked if I was okay.
I replied, “Yep,” just need two minutes.
Did I get two minutes of quiet? Nope, and I went back to my busy day.
Curbing Burnout with Scripture or a Devotional
Digging into God’s Word or reading a devotional can help heal our spiritual burnout. When our souls are weary, we lose track of our anchor points (as my friend Stuart calls them).
If you are a believer, the Lord is our anchor point. He grounds us. His Word grounds us.
We see this with Peter when he takes his eyes off Jesus while walking on the water.
Here’s a quick backstory.
Jesus and the disciples had just finished feeding the five thousand, and Jesus sent them on ahead of Him across the lake. Jesus went off to pray by himself and would meet with them later.
The disciples get in the boat and start across the lake. Sometime before dawn, they see what they think is a ghost coming toward them on the lake.
They start freaking out until Jesus calls out to them.
In Matthew 14:28-31a, it says,
“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water. ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”
Peter wasn’t burned out, but these verses illustrate that when we take our eyes off the Lord, we lose our way.
He recognized the Lord’s voice when Jesus said Come. He trusted the Lord, and Peter’s eyes were fixed on Him. Peter only began to sink when he took His eyes off the Lord.
Sometimes we over-spiritualize life. If we just keep our eyes on Jesus, life will be great. That’s not what scripture says. Life might be easier or filled with hurt, pain, and trials.
Kayla Stoecklein is a good example of this. She married a man who wanted to be a pastor. She became a pastor’s wife, and tragedy still occurred in her life.
Katherine Wolfe, the author of Hope Heals, had it all – strong faith, loving husband, seemingly perfect life living in Malibu, and she had a stroke in her mid-twenties and would never be the same physically.
Being a believer doesn’t mean we are exempt from tragedy or hardships; it just means we have someone who we can anchor to who is strong enough to see us through our struggles.
Check out Sarah Young’s devotional book, Jesus Calling for help in anchoring yourself to Jesus.
This week, take a few minutes to evaluate where you are at with your burnout. Listen to one of the short podcasts on burnout or pick up a copy of Jesus Calling and drink in the words that Sarah writes as if it is Jesus sitting next to you and talking with you.
Also, see if there is something from the curbing burnout list above that resonates with you and try it.
The list is not exhaustive and I encourage you to read Matthew 14 and see how Jesus provided for the people with food, and provided for Peter’s spiritual needs as well.
Lord, thank you for the blessing of who You are, and for caring deeply about each one of us. We have filled our lives with many things that keep us busy and restless. I ask you to meet each one of us where we are at. If someone is struggling, I ask you to provide someone who can share in their struggles. If they are broken, I ask you to heal their pain. Thank you for loving us deeply. Amen!
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- The Working Genius Assessment
- The Six Types of Working Genius – Patrick Lencioni
- Jesus Calling – Sarah Young
- Fear Gone Wild – Kayla Stoecklein
- Hope Heals – Katherine Wolf
- https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516 ↩︎
- https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516 ↩︎
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