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HomeFeatures › Is It Stress or Is It Burnout?

Is It Stress or Is It Burnout?

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Writer Anne Jackson points to a plan for healing and change.

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In researching my book, Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic (Zondervan), I heard from thousands of ministry leaders, often anonymously, who reported feeling overwhelmed and fatigued by work.


But that condition makes it impossible for us to love others in the godliest of ways. We intentionally and purposefully need to make a plan for healing and change.


Respected psychologist Dr. Archibald Hart, an expert on stress, anxiety and depression, says burnout is the result of cumulative stress developed over time.


Applying the following five principles will build a strong foundation for making practical decisions in the future:


(1) Accept responsibility for your decisions. The effect of the decisions you’ve made over time has led to your current condition. You alone are responsible both for the choices you’ve made in life and for seeking God’s plan for healing.


(2) Change your purpose. Even with the best intentions—even when those things are about outreach and ministry—if we aren’t committed to pursuing a loving relationship with our Creator first, we are destined to fail.


(3) Chart a plan. Small steps over time can yield a big difference—and God will honor your obedience in ways beyond what you can humanly accomplish.


(4) Create boundaries. As ministry leaders we need to look at the entire kingdom picture when we review our to-do lists. Creating boundaries isn’t selfish; it’s vital.


(5) Find accountability. If we keep our struggles hidden, we’ll never be completely free of them. Accountable relationships are important for every area of our lives.


Contrary to popular belief, burnout—or even stress—is not just a part of doing ministry. We are in the midst of a crisis that needs our full devotion of mind, body and spirit. Are you fully dependent on God’s strength to be the light He calls you to be?


Anne Jackson is a writer, speaker and social change activist. Her books include Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic (Zondervan) and Permission to Speak Freely (Thomas Nelson). Connect with her through or on Twitter: @AnneJackson

Order on

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic (Kindle)

Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace

Permission to Speak Freely (Kindle)

Portions of this article were adapted from Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic by Anne Jackson (Zondervan 2009). Used with permission.


SeptOct 2009 OutreachOutreach magazine ran an in-depth article on the subject of burnout in the September/October 2009 issue »

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