Sep 03, 2018
Are You Heading for Ministry Burnout?
Rashard Barnes reflects on his own experiences to help others avoid college ministry burnout.
Ministry is like no other vocation. While it is fun and exciting, it brings many challenges — emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physcially. Though the challenge of ministry most often yields a reward, there is a specific challenge that does not yield positive results— burnout.
In college ministry, you grind! You recruit students, disciple students, develop leaders, teach seminars, encourage the faint-hearted, counsel the weak, raise money, plan trips and the list goes on and on. You do not have years of experience with many of these tasks, so you grind even harder to figure out details and plan awesome things. And you start the process with new people every year! Listen, I am not saying, “Don’t grind.” You need to get after your business, but hear me: If you don’t pay attention to your soul, ministry will take a toll on you.
Going into ministry, you are told you need to establish proper structures in your life to avoid burnout. We take this as good advice, but not as necessary instruction because burnout is not going to happen to us. I thought the same thing until I started down that slippery slope. While in my mind, I was doing the Lord’s work, I started to neglect all the warning signs that the Holy Spirit was trying to show me. Soon, ministry slowly became less of a calling and more of a job for me. As I read the scriptures, they became a tool to disciple rather than life to my soul. As I prayed, I was ignoring the idols in my heart while praying for other’s hearts. During meetings I found myself getting defensive on silly issues that did not matter. I could go on, but this was a snapshot of the state of my soul about two years ago until God divinely intervened in my life.
I was so caught up in doing much ministry that I needed some help. I needed something that was gospel-centric but also got my context. That is where Sonship Course came into place. I began this course thinking that I just needed some minor adjustments but soon realized my soul needed to be re-engineered. I had forgotten the things I thought I knew. And many things I thought I understood were merely on a theological level. This is the main idea of the course; helping you believe the theology you know. You see something I learned is that a significant part of burnout is merely a symptom of losing sight of God’s relentless love of me. I can build in restful practices, change my schedule, etc., but my burnout is a fruit of a restless heart not finding rest in my loving Father.
You may think, “How did the course do that?” They give you assignments and pair you with a mentor who is trained to counsel with the gospel. Each lesson has some audio lectures, some exercises for you to complete and then you talk through them with a mentor. Because of the nature of the subject, this usually takes about 9-12 months to complete. If married, your spouse can do the course alongside with you.
So here is the deal, whether you think you are near burnout or not, you must find your rest in Jesus and you need others to help you in the process. This course was crucial for my life and I fully recommend it, but you need to find something to help you remain centered or re-center on Jesus. College ministry is hard and the enemy would love nothing more than to burn you out.
Click here for more information on the Sonship Course.