Avoding Burnout: 10 Tips For People Who Work Too Hard

During my former career as a third grade teacher, I directed my students through an interesting project each fall. They would head out of the classroom armed with a video camera and conduct an interview with a senior citizen in their neighborhood. It could be a grandparent, uncle, aunt, or other family member. It could be a person from Church, or a family friend. The only requirement was that the person had to be at least 75 years old, and be willing to offer some perspective about the difference in life in today’s culture, and life in the early part of the 1900’s.

The students wrote their own interview questions . . . except for one. Every interview ended with this question: “What is the biggest difference you see between kids now and kidswhen you were young?” Over the years, the top answer (hands down) boiled down to one word – “Busyness” A majority of the folks interviewed observed how kids today are SO busy

At first, that seemed funny to me – especially coming from people who lived in early part of the century. These folks were up early, and worked hard all day. Even children carried burdens of chores that we can barely understand, and they had no appliances to make things easier. But here is the difference – when it was time to stop, they did. At dark, they sat on the porch and talked. They were relational. They made time to hang out with each other! They saw sunrises and sunsets. They took walks. They sang songs. They read books. They observed the Sabbath.

So here is a question: When is the last time you took time to do those things. If you can check off just one, you’re ahead of the curve. People just don’t do those things anymore. Most people feel guilty if they even try. We are just SO busy juggling the different arenas of life that we don’t take time for the little things. We don’t make time for the things that matter most . . . and as a result, many, many people in our culture experience BURNOUT.


With that in mind, I want to recommend an article to you. It appears in the current issue of RELEVANT magazine, and it is entitled QUIT WORKING SO HARD. (Click the title to read the article). The article is very well done – a first person account of a young person who experienced burnout on the mission field, and ten tips that she learned that can help you avoid the same fate.

Here are those ten tips from the article. There is some profound truth to be gleaned here:

1. Get the rhythm right. It’s actually prayer, play and work. Did you notice I inverted the order? Priorities make all the difference.

2. Put God first and foremost in everything. If I continually invited Him into every aspect of my life, I would have no reason to stress.

3. Allow God to defend you. God is my defender. I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. He’ll do it for me or kindly correct me, depending on the circumstances.

4. People who believe they can sleep when they’re dead never really get to fully experience life. Sleep is so important. I can function on four hours of sleep, but what’s permissible isn’t always beneficial.

5. Rest is a form of worship. Over the summer, I had to retrain myself to enjoy free time. I’ve never been so thankful for opportunities to exercise, appreciate nature, play my guitar, write, hang out with friends, read and just explore the awesomeness of the world. Rest is about trusting God enough to take the time to appreciate His blessings.

6. Turn off the technology. Let’s be honest. I don’t need my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and three email accounts pushed to my iPhone every five minutes. I tend to idolize technology—I spend more time with it than I do with God and with people God has placed in my life.

7. It’s okay to say no. There is freedom in admitting you can’t do everything.

8. Be honest with yourself and your friends. To guard against burnout, I’m inviting more accountability into my life.

9. When you miss out, others are missing out too. God placed me in my circle of influence to leave an impact. When I’m not fully present, I’m robbing people of what God wants to do in their lives through me.

10. God is God. I am not. If I remembered who God is and who I am in Him, I would be less likely to work myself to the point of burnout. I have to trust He is working through me and guiding my steps. I have to stop trying to wrestle control from Him.

I would also like to call your attention to THIS ENTRY, posted here earlier this year, that deals with this same issue.

This entry was posted in Christian Living, Culture and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Avoding Burnout: 10 Tips For People Who Work Too Hard

  1. this is a GREAT look at the problem of burnout… I think I could probably write one about church staff in particular but i’ll leave that one alone 🙂

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