There are a few times a year when I hit a ministry slump: January / February and then again in August.
In both cases, exhaustion contributes to my slump. I enter January exhausted from the holidays only to then go full-throttle into two of my busiest months of the year. In August, I'm exhausted – emotionally and physically – from our summer trips. Yet, I know I can't slow down because the start of fall programming looms before me.
These slumps are seasons when I'm ripe for burnout, when I feel overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands of ministry. These slumps are times when I often question why I'm in ministry. They're times when I might even consider handing my boss my resignation letter.
Despite the fact that these slumps happen every year, it usually takes me a while before I figure out what's going on. It's only after I've been in a slump for a while – and identified several of the signs of impending burnout – that I'm like, “Oh – this again.”
The good news is that once you've identified what's going on, it's much easier to combat ministry slumps and prevent burnout, something we'll talk more about next week.
Knowing that, here are 11 signs you might be hovering dangerously close to burnout:
i. Even though you're exhausted, you find it difficult to sleep. You lay awake at night rehashing your day. You obsess over your failures and find it hard to identify anything you did well during the day. You worry about things – some of which you can control, but most of which you can't.
ii. The mere thought of work overwhelms you. You find no joy, even in the parts of your job that used to bring you joy.
iii. You have difficulty focusing during the day. Rather than doing productive work, you find yourself surfing the internet or watching YouTube videos.
iv. Your boundaries get blurred. Because you find it so hard to focus during the day, your work bleeds into your evenings and days off. Before you know it, you feel like you're working 24-7 and yet the hole still feels so deep that you're unsure you'll ever be able to climb out of it.