6 Ways to Avoid Burnout Hero Image
6 Ways to Avoid Burnout Hero Image
Nov 20, 2017 / 5 min

6 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Jonathan Pokluda

Have you ever run out of gas? Your car starts to sputter, until it turns off and you're left coasting down the road on momentum alone. This past week, my family and I ran across a young lady who was stranded on the side of the road. Her car hadn't just run out of gas, it had died. It was clear that it had not been well cared for and the components that make the car drive down the road were no longer functioning properly. This can happen to us as humans, if we do not properly maintain our temporary vessels of life, and run at a sustainable pace. This refueling and maintenance is often referred to as Sabbath.

When I've talked on the topic of Sabbath, I've been surprised by the response to the messages. It seems people really struggle to have a Sabbath rest. Furthermore, I've been surprised that most people don't even understand what it looks like to Sabbath today.

In these messages, I've addressed my own challenges with managing my pace. Thankfully, the leadership at Watermark makes Sabbath rest a priority, emphasizing work-life balance and demonstrating what it looks like to abide in Jesus. I’ve been continually encouraged by their vested interest in my pace and life balance.

So, I wanted to share some principles I’ve learned at Watermark regarding rest:

1. Be responsible for your own rest.

No one can rest for you. It is not your boss’ responsibility to make sure you are running at a sustainable pace. While mine does an incredible job of asking questions around this, I’ve learned this is the exception to the rule. If you feel yourself running thin, it is important to let those around you know you’re reaching your limit.

2. Audit your pace.

Everyone needs checks and balances. You will not always know how “hot” you are running, unless you stop to take an assessment. It’s wise to have external auditors—preferably people you are in community with—who you discuss your pace with and invite to speak into your life. Schedule a time each week to audit your pace and effectiveness that week, and determine where you need to make changes.

3. Recognize that not everyone runs at the same speed or needs the same rest.

If I sprinted 40 yards, it would take me a while to recover. (Yes, just 40 yards. That’s not a typo.) My hands would be on my knees and my breathing would be heavy. I know other people who can sprint a mile, and recover more quickly. If I tried to keep up with them I would wear myself out! Likewise, not everyone will have the same pace in life. There are indeed “high-capacity” individuals who appear to be going all-out, but are actually operating in their “sweet spot.” But if that’s not you (and it’s probably not) don’t burn yourself out trying to keep up.

Your value does not come from the pace you run. If you think it does, this will quickly lead to burnout. Your value comes from God, Who made you in His image and did the most important work on your behalf. You are valuable because you are His, and you only need to run at the pace He designed you to run.

4. Realize that everyone does need rest.

God made us to need rest. Think about it. If you don’t sleep you will get mentally ill, and eventually die. He fine-tuned our environment to evolve around rest. He even turns out the lights every night to allow for it. It is a brilliant design that we take for granted. He could have made us to go 24/7/365 and never stop, but He didn’t. In fact, God took the Sabbath off on the seventh day of creation, even though He is all-powerful and therefore doesn’t need rest. God is clearly communicating something important, and is saying that at some point your work needs to stop.

5. Don’t obsess over how you are doing.

I’ve learned that the topic of pace and rest stresses people out. We are like hypochondriacs who begin to feel “sick” because we are talking about it. “Maybe I am running too hard and too fast. What if I am and I didn’t even know it?” We stress, which is the opposite of rest, and turn good things like quiet times into yet another item on our to-do list.

This is why you need others speaking into your life, who can objectively see how you really are. Set a time each week to stop and ask “How am I doing?” If you do that, you’ll be fine.

6. Trust that God is in control.

It’s really more about trusting than resting. If you trust that God is in control and knows what He is doing, you can rest well without worrying that the world will somehow fall apart during your absence.

Rest = trust. This was my number one takeaway in studying Sabbath.

You can’t save the world, and you can’t save yourself, no matter how hard you try. You’ll live and you’ll do something with your life, and then you will die. Probably sooner than you think. And that’s totally OK. If you’ve trusted in God’s provision of forgiveness through Jesus, you will be just fine. Do everything you can and then go to sleep. You can’t do it all and God is in control anyways.

– JP