Orange Logo

Leading Well, Living Well: Sustaining Your Health In Ministry

Unveiling the hidden struggles of ministry burnout, this blog shares a leader's journey from success to exhaustion and offers practical steps for replenishment and sustainable fulfillment in the demanding world of ministry. Discover the importance of intentional rhythms, spiritual direction, and prioritizing self-care for a healthier life in leadership.

I don’t remember the exact year, maybe year 14, in ministry when I hit a wall in my spiritual life and discovered that I was burning out. I want to think that outwardly, I appeared to be doing incredibly well.

My student ministry was thriving, students were bringing their families to church, I was getting asked to speak more outside of my circle of peers, and I had just finished a year of coach training.

But all of those “successes” were an illusion.

Inwardly, I was dying.

I was empty.

I was exhausted.

I felt like there was very little to give to my family. I was dangerously tired and wanted to quit. All of it, everything I was involved in, I was ready to hand it all over and walk away.

I became incredibly skilled at lying. And not the really hurtful kind of lies but the kind of lie when someone asks you how you are doing, and your response is almost always, “I’m fine,” and then immediately turn the conversation to the other person by asking about them or their family.

I often think about the time we have on Earth and how the number of days we have is not promised. I want to aggressively love well with my time here, but the piece that is so easy to miss is that loving well includes me.

While this is my story, I know that I am not the only one. Every leader I am fortunate enough to coach and engage with feels wearier than they ever felt before. To be weary is when your entire self is in a state of depletion. Weariness is as much about your soul as it is about your body.

Here are two questions that have helped me sustain my ministry without burning out.

How do you replenish when you are depleted?

Replenishing your soul doesn’t happen by accident and requires taking intentional steps. One key discipline that has been helpful for me and many other leaders is spiritual direction. If you aren’t familiar with spiritual direction, you may be skeptical, but it is just a safe place for attending to your soul and investing in spiritual transformation. It is especially helpful for leaders because it is outside public view, and the only agenda is connecting with God. If you feel like you have been working for God and have not been with God in some time, perhaps looking for a Spiritual Director could be the path to finding some inner freedom and rest. 

Another helpful practice is seeking out a great coach to help you curate a healthy rhythm. Jesus said, “ I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” I believe to experience that fullness, we need to develop healthy rhythms.  We cannot operate as though our calling is temporary, so we need to develop sustainable rhythms that help us thrive as we lead for the long haul. 

Creating the ideal rhythmic week can be the foundation that leads to a healthy life.

I use the word rhythm with myself, my direct report, and my family because saying the word schedule alludes to having a normal week, and we all know that there is nothing normal about what we do. However, we can rethink our daily schedules so that even when every day is different, we develop rhythms that replenish our souls. 

How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal rhythm?

Healthy leaders find meaningful pursuits that provide recalibration, refreshment, and renewal. 

This can look different for everyone. From binge-watching The Golden Bachelor to an afternoon walk, no matter what you choose, sleep needs to be a priority. Sleep is like money; deficits become debt, and debt needs to be paid off. We, yes, all of us, were designed to spend about a 1/3 of our life sleeping and, on top of that, an additional 1/7 of our lives resting. Someone once said that 70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. Guard your sleep. Embrace naps.

A life of ministry can be fulfilling without being all-consuming.

I do not believe that God intended for you to sacrifice your family so that you can do kingdom work. God gave you gifts and desires to lead, but I do not believe that God meant for those gifts to be a burden to you or to your family.

If you are going to experience life in ministry to the full, you need to keep in mind what matters most TO YOU before anyone else tries to tell you what SHOULD matter most. Spend time curating your personal and professional values so that you can stay strong and be the leader that God has created you to be. 

We want you to be here longer! It takes real time to build relationships where you can influence the lives of kids, teens, and families. Working to stay a healthy leader means that you can keep showing up in the spaces that need you most.

FREE WEBINAR

Learn the new metrics of ministry success.

A New Vision for Honoring Black History Month

4 Tips For Helping A Teenager Navigate A Crisis

Don't Miss What's Next

Get free resources for today, and the latest thinking for tomorrow from Orange.