Mental Burnout

30 10 2007

I recently went to a session at Truett on burnout sponsored by True Course Ministries. Burnout was described in this way at the session:

Burnout is a cluster of symptoms, including emotional and physical exhaustion, depersonalization or a tendency to withdraw from people, and decreased personal and professional performance.

In this session they talked about the common occurrence of burnout that happens among “helping professions.” This includes teachers, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement, clergy, social work, etc…. Here are a few of the statistics that struck me:

  • 50% of American parents (about to be me) burnout
  • 20% of clergy (me) burnout and never return to ministry (uh-oh)
  • people most prone to burnout are idealists (me) and perfectionists (not me).

Then, to top off the fact that I, myself, am one of those unfortunates who are extremely prone to burnout, they added a list of symptoms of people who are experiencing burnout. They listed mental, physical, and spiritual symptoms. These are the mental symptoms that someone experiencing burnout undergoes…

  • anger (as in a kind of inner anger, not necessarily a “throwing things across the room” kind of anger)
  • cynicism
  • negativism
  • increased irritability
  • sense of helplessness
  • decreased self-esteem
  • sense of hopelessness
  • self doubt
  • apathy
  • difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • feelings of disenchantment
  • disillusionment
  • disorientation
  • confusion

I read this list and thought, “That looks a lot like me! YAY!” Luckily, I’m not to the point where I’m experiencing any kind of physical symptoms, nor am I experiencing many of the spiritual symptoms that they listed, but undoubtedly, this is cause for concern. Now I’m not on track for depression or anything, nor are any of the ‘symptoms’ that I have severe. But they’re there. I am undergoing burnout.

So, the question becomes, how do I combat burnout?

I don’t know the answer.

Do you have experience with burnout? How did/didn’t you handle it?




2 responses

30 10 2007
Joe Arrington

I did. Ask me.

31 01 2008

Marc, hey it’s Holly Southerland. What’s up! I came across this post today and wanted to share something that one of my seminary profs said on Monday:

Why do we stay true to God?
Because of the call
The call is our foundation
You have been called by God and you are a part of Kingdom work
He could have chosen a lot of people but He chose you to be in His Kingdom’s work as a leader

Can you imagine what happens when we do not live a life of integrity?
It can be pretty dangerous

The basis of your relationships is your call

Anyway, that’s just a copy and paste from my scattered notes. He mentioned a little bit about burnout. And said basically that keeping your mind on the sense of call in your life will keep you going even when you don’t want to keep going. He said that’s why we put up with seminary profs like him, why we keep reading stuff we don’t understand, why we keep going in ministry when we don’t see fruit.

I realize this was written awhile back but maybe you’re still kinda feeling the same way or you may feel that same way again.

Congrats on your new baby!!!

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