How to Beat Small-Group Burnout

How to Beat Small-Group Burnout

Be sure to take this good medicine for group leaders.
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Take a Break

If you find yourself at your wit's end, you need to take a break. If you are burned out, tired, frustrated, or experiencing health problems, start by focusing on your physical wellbeing. Get enough sleep. Eat right. Get a little exercise. Stepping out of your group will allow you two more hours in the week to do these things. If you don't feel well physically, you won't feel well emotionally or spiritually either.

Once you feel a little more rested, focus on your emotional health. How's your attitude? Do you find yourself scowling or laughing? Are you hopeful or hopeless? On a scale of 1 to 10, where is your cynicism these days? Find a way to do some things for yourself. Take a walk. Watch a movie. Invest in your relationships. Hours of television will only slow your recovery. Honest conversations will revive your soul.

Now, this might seem completely backward, but your spiritual health comes last. I used to think: "Lord, I'm doing your work. I'm tired. I'm burned out. I'm frustrated. Give me supernatural strength to rise above the situation that I've created for myself by too many late nights, poor nutrition, and taking on too much. It's all for you God. Help me, so that I can help you."

God's response was usually something like: "Oh, give me a break." God won't bail you (or me) out and reinforce our bad behavior. Constantly violating God's design is a sure path to burnout.

God designed us to work hard. God designed us to rest. God designed us for relationship with him and with others. God designed us for a purpose. God designed us to be fragile (clay pots). Lives are best lived with an ebb and flow. We apply effort and energy, and then we take a break and rest.

The reason that you feel physically tired and emotionally negative after a group meeting is that your body, your system, is telling you that it's time to get out of group leader/Mr. or Ms. Hospitality mode and relax. It's not a time to evaluate your performance as a group leader. It's not a time to consider quitting the group or moving to Alask. It's time to rest. Leave behind the mess that you can tolerate. If another member is hosting, then you can just go home and not worry about it.

I've heard ministry leaders say, "I'd rather burnout than rust out." I don't think either is a very good option. It's much better for us to wear out gradually.

—Allen White is the Adult Discipleship Pastor at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, SC. Article excerpted with permission from Allen's blog, www.allenwhite.org.

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