No Margin, No Mission! This phrase is 100% TRUTH. For many leaders coming out of this pandemic has left them creatively wiped out, physically worn out, and spiritually burned out. They have little to no margin in their life.
The latest Barna/Awana research shows that ministry leaders are showing signs of burnout. Let’s define what I mean by burnout because that word gets thrown out a lot and many times its wrong.
Herber J. Freudenberger a psychologist defines the technical definition of burnout: burnout is a combination of emotional exhaustion, a depleted ability to care and a decreased sense of accomplishment.
Any of that resonate with you?
The research says it does. Here’s what the report says, “…they describe feeling unsure of their long-term impact, fearing that kids will walk away from the faith and not knowing how to gauge their effectiveness. Their life-work balance is at risk.
This is is why margin is so vital to a leaders long term future in ministry. Jesus himself modeled what creating margin looks like for us. In the gospels we read about a very busy season of people coming to him from all over wanting them to heal their sick. He ministered a great deal and it obviously took a lot out of him physically and emotionally. (he is fully human) The disciple let him know that more were looking for him and he drew a line. He said NO.
Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
Reason 1: Jesus demonstrated it was OK to stop ministry. You can’t help more if you don’t stop and rest once in a while. Far too many leaders feel guilty, unplugging and resting. You should NEVER feel guilty for saying I need to rest.
If you desire to stay in ministry for any length of time at a high capacity, you must prioritize the margin of rest. You need to completely unplug from ministry, leadership, etc. Unplug digitally too! I recently saw a post in a Facebook group where a leader was struggling with this exact issue. How do you unplug without offending?
As a ministry mentor, I often ask, Why are you afraid to fully unplug?
*Fear of Man? *Control Issues? *Pride?
If you struggle with this, I’d like to encourage you to find a ministry coach/mentor like myself who can help you not only learn Biblical principles of leadership but help you create margin and overcome these strong feelings that are strongholds.
Reason 2: Leadership Stress is Unique. It really is. Most who enter ministry only see what’s presented on the stage. They fail to see what happens Monday through Saturday. They fail to understand the almost 24/7 demand for time and energy it requires. Ministry leadership is hard and certainly not for everyone. As leaders if we don’t set up clear and solid boundaries, priorities and get clarity on our own leadership styles and strengths, we are going to get overwhelmed very quickly.
Stress is dangerous. Stress can impact more than just you. It always ripples. The damage from it can be huge. We’ve seen many high capacity leaders succumb to the effects of living with internal stress and become isolated, depressed and suicidal. When you create margin, you learn that stress can be managed. When you learn to harness stress it can also make you stronger. There is actually studies on how stress under certain parameters can help you function at a higher level. But if you don’t know how to manage it and you don’t have margin, the ugly side of it will most certainly overtake a leader.
Reason 3: God ordained the Sabbath for this. He rested on the seventh day not because of physical exhaustion but to create margin for us to regain balance and to connect with him on a deeper level. When we focus on our relationship with God he refills and recreates us. He renews us inwardly where we so desperately need to have his power flowing through us. We as ministry leaders cannot give out to others if we don’t take care of ourselves. We must set aside time to worship and be intimate with the Heavenly Father. We need his holiness to be all over us.
We won’t experience this if we don’t actively sabbath.
I want to offer a resource to help, It’s a ministry that I lead. I was called to do this and I’ve spent thousands of hours and invested much out of pocket to make this reality. I’ve been blessed that others have given to help financially make this ministry move forward.
RestoringLeaders.org is a by-faith ministry that provides care and support to ministry leaders who struggle with overwhelm, burnout, and leadership hurts. We offer one on one mentoring as well as retreats and online courses. If you need help, we are here to serve you. Check us out!