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“Burnout victims give and give and give, until finally there was nothing left to give any more.”

Christina Maslach

I struggled with emotional burnout years ago. It was one of the scariest and most devastating seasons in my life. I was tired all the time and had no motivation. Apathy and hopelessness ran high. I lacked energy, bitterness and cynicism replaced compassion for others, I withdrew and isolated myself as a form of protection, and resented those who needed me. When asked by my eight-year-old son what was wrong, I explained how my emotional “gas” tank was on empty and I had nothing left to give. Burnout is a depletion of emotions.

There are many paths which lead to burnout. For me, I lived out of a performance identity. I believed the lie that my value came from doing, not being. I was convinced that, “If it’s not productive, it’s a waste of time.” Ministry gave me self-worth. The more I crammed into a day, the greater my pride was fed. I needed the approval of man, so I said “yes” frequently, hoping people would accept and like me. I became so busy taking care of others that I forgot to take care of myself. I didn’t physically or emotionally refuel my tank.

It took months to climb out of the burnout black hole I had spiraled into. I began to see the importance of being still with God and finding my identity in Christ as His daughter. I discerned which commitments to let go of by seeing if they lined up with my giftings, passions and strengths. If they didn’t, they were eliminated. Because the need doesn’t always constitute the call, clarity of my purpose and priorities determined where God wanted me to minister. Learning my limitations gave me freedom. I started to refuel my physical tank with exercise and additional rest and I chose to put more fun and recreation in my schedule to fill my emotional tank back up.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is our rest-giver. When we’re weary, burdened, and burnt out, we need to choose to go to Him and create space for Him. God is relational and He wants us to BE with Him, more than DO for Him.

“Wounded warriors are often captives to what they do, sacrificing self and health beyond the true call of God.”

Loren Sandford

Relevant Reflections:

  1. How full is your emotional tank?

  2. If it’s low or close to empty, what steps can you take to refuel your emotional tank?

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