Just in time! Last week I was trying to encourage and de-stress our readers and Next Step clients. My friend Tracie has been thinking and writing a lot about the topic of de-stressing, so she’s here to share some of her insights and invaluable resources with us this week. Take it away, Tracie!
Several years ago, I found myself immersed in ministry and consumed with stress.
I had made a commitment to God that I would serve Him in whatever way He called, because a few years earlier I had disobeyed His call to be a speaker. I was terrified at the thought of sharing my testimony or standing on stage, even if those acts would glorify God. My fear overwhelmed my faith, and my answer to God’s call, was “No thanks”. “Not now.” “Maybe never.”
But out of my love for God and feeling ashamed of my lack of trust, I convinced myself that if I served God in lots of other ways, that my service would be sufficient. Unfortunately, that not only prolonged my disobedience to God’s true call on my life, but over time I became over committed, stressed out and burnt out.
You see, I had become a “yes” girl to anyone who asked, because I regretted telling God “no” in the past. I was unknowingly serving in whatever way people called, not whatever way God called.
When someone asked me to sing in the choir, I said yes. When someone asked me to paint three huge wooden props for the Christmas play all by myself, I said yes. When someone asked me to lead a Bible study, I said yes. When someone asked me to help with the children’s nursery, I said yes. When someone asked me to lead the whole Women’s Ministry program, I said yes. You get the picture.
I was serving God in meaningful ways, but as a result of not obeying what He was really calling me to do, I was serving for all the wrong reasons. Although I enjoyed doing all those things, I was serving to please other people, not Him. I was serving to fill a gap in my heart, not a gap in the needs of my church. And as a result, over time, my overload turned into burnout. My ministry work became a job instead of a joy, and something needed to change. Although God was grooming my heart through these acts of service, I knew I wasn’t fully living in His will.
Since then, I have learned to be aware of the warning signs that my spirit and my body exhibit when I am on the dangerous path towards stress and burnout. I have learned to seek God’s guidance before saying “yes”, and continually building my relationship with Him, in the hopes of avoiding reaching the burn out stage ever again.
And I want to encourage you in your quest to do the same so that God can continue to be glorified through you as you follow His lead.
Recently I was featured over at www.womensministry.net sharing a one minute video about How To Avoid Ministry Burnout. You can also download my free handout from that site titled 10 Keys To Avoiding Ministry Burnout. If you have been struggling with feeling overcommitted in ministry, or just feeling burnt out in your every day responsibilities, I pray these tips might encourage you.
Just as stress comes with the territory of serving God, it is also a normal part of life, but if left ignored, it can begin to control our lives. My new book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World addresses this problem and helps you become aware of the stress in your life and the toll it might be taking on you physically, emotionally and spiritually. The official release date is October 2, 2012, but it is currently available for pre-orders through Proverbs 31! More information is available at www.stressedlessliving.com .
And, if you want to make sure you avoid burnout and get your stress under control, I invite you to sign up for my free 10 Day Stress Detox! Visit my blog at www.traciewmiles.com to get signed up.
For everyone who signs up for the Stress Detox before this weekend, I will send an expanded, more detailed 8 page version of the 10 Tips To Avoiding Ministry Burnout for free!
If interested, just forward your email subscription confirmation to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your informational and motivational freebie will be on the way!