The Cure for Burnout


Have you ever felt burned out or bored as a leader? Have you ever thought seriously about stepping out of leadership for a season . . . or maybe even permanently? There are three things you can do to cure burnout and boredom.

1. Remember your purpose. Burnout or boredom are often byproducts of misunderstanding your role as a group leader. It's your job to create a safe environment where people can grow spiritually and connect with one another. You provide opportunities, but it's up to group members show up, join in, and be real.

2. Be proactive. When you're faced with a challenging group situation or difficult interpersonal dynamics, it's easy to become reactive. You may feel whipsawed and helpless. This can lead to a desire for a break from leadership.  Instead of running, re-engaged with a clear purpose. Remember why your group exists (to provide accountability, belonging, and care for every member of the group), and do something to engage in that purpose. Maybe you need to take on a service project. Maybe you need to shake up the way you pray for one another. Maybe you need to have a conversation about tensions within the group and make an effort to reset everyone's expectations of what being in group is all about. Being proactive can reinvigorated and refocus your group.

3. Ask helpful questions. Your job as a leader isn't to make people take the next step on their spiritual journeys. It's to offer encouragement and guidance. Taking the next step is up to them. One of the best ways you can encourage and guide your group members is by asking questions—questions that encourage them to move in God's direction and help them to own their spiritual growth.

Here are some examples of helpful questions:

  • If this group is the best group you are ever a part of, how will you be different at its conclusion?
  • What is holding you back from moving to a more intimate relationship with God?
  • When you consider the five things God uses to grow your faith — Private Disciplines, Providential Relationships, Personal Ministry, Pivotal Circumstances, and Practical Teaching — where do you see God moving? How will you respond?
  • What can you do to step out of your comfort zone?

Don't give up on leadership. Remember that God grows you through the ups and downs. Even when you face challenges and difficult, God will use that to grow you (perhaps he especially uses those times). Keep encouraging those you lead. Keep asking the questions that no one else is asking. Don’t let leadership get boring.

Thanks for all you do each week to help lead others into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Burned Out or Bored?


Have you ever felt "burned out" and considered taking a season off from leading a group? Do you feel that way now? I understand. You aren't alone in feeling that way. One question can be helpful in thinking through the decision of whether to take time off from leadership: Am I burned out or bored?

The two feelings are similar. Both are accompanied by thoughts of quitting or a desire to escape.

The question of whether to continue in leadership tends to come up after ending a group in which you had to manage challenging situations or difficult interpersonal dynamics. There's a temptation to think it was a "bad" group experience and that you failed as a leader. But people are messy, so ministry is messy. Challenging situations and difficult interpersonal dynamics aren't a sign of failure. They're an opportunity for growth . . . for everyone in the group (including you).

Stepping out of leadership doesn't clean up messes. At best, it reduces your influence. At worst it ignores a stewardship opportunity. So, whether you're feeling burned out or bored, don't be quick to bail out of leadership. There are practical steps you can take to manage the mess in a way that makes you feel like you're making progress, that you're making a difference.

I'll dig into those practical steps in my next post. Check in later this week.