Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer decided to use vegetable oil instead of tanning oil? At the end of the day he smelled like cooked chicken!
Some people we meet in ministry smell that way, like they’ve been burned. Usually you find a burnt out family to go with them as well.
In case you’ve ever wondered, here are 5 sure fire, personally tested ways to get burned in ministry.
1. Never speak up for yourself. When you discover in a meeting that someone has jumped ahead of you and done something that is your responsibility, or when a decision is made without your input that negatively impacts your ministry, definitely say nothing. Better yet, when the finance team cuts your already shoestring budget, make certain not to ask them to discuss it with you.
2. Work really long hours. Embrace the notion that the ministry that hires you owns you, and spend every waking moment trying to get it all done. Never shut off the computer, email, etc., and absolutely never take breaks or proper lunches.
3. Always place ministry over family. Ask God to take care of your family so that you can do your ministry. Get home late and leave early, skip the kids’ cub scout meetings for ministry events, never take a weekend off if you are a worship leader, and make certain to take any and every church call during your dates with your wife because, well, the church needs you.
4. Never exercise or take a break. That nonsense about everyone needing to change their activity or position every 1.5-2 hours is just that: nonsense. Those headaches are a medical condition, not the result of pushing the creative juices past their natural limit.
5. And, if none of those work, take everything people say and do personally. Mull over poisonous comments and innocuous disagreements for hours until you are fuming or depressed or both, and then go home and share with your family.
If these 5 things don’t get you smelling like Kramer, I don’t know what will. Oh, and there’s a bonus. If you fulfill all of these points perfectly you are also apt to end up divorced, in counseling and without a job.
Of course, if you prefer not to end up burnt out, divorced and unemployed, perhaps you should consider doing the opposite of all these things. Like I said, these methods have been personally tested, but so have the anti-dotes.
What burnout causes or cures have you discovered?