Guest blogger: Don Easton. Don is a church planter and Senior Minister at C3 Church Robina, Australia. Having experienced burnout, he considers it a gift that has taught his to thrive in ministry. Learn more about Don and his ministry at doneaston.com.
3 essentials to thriving in ministry… from a survivor of burnout.
I didn’t see burnout coming. It hit early in the 37th year of ministry. Yes, I am back in ministry, and thanks to my wonderful team, serving still in the church we planted in 1992.
The gift of burnout has shown me three things that are essential to thriving in ministry.
These are: a vital relationship with God, deep connections, and knowing your purpose.
A vital relationship with God
The first key to thriving is a vital relationship with God.
How is your relationship with God?
In the numbness of brokenness and wondering what the future would be, I found it difficult to pray or read my Bible. But Psalm 23:1 came to my recall. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He lets me rest.” Peace came. As I rested and began to be repaired, I went to words that shaped my early Christian life. “See what love the Father has given to [Don] that he should be called a child of God, and this is what [he] is! (1 John 3:1). I love personalizing the scriptures, where appropriate. In going back to the foundations of my relationship with God and experiencing again the love of the Father, healing flowed. Healing from griefs, traumas, and abuse of ministry. I found freedom from broken trust and fear of rejection. A key person in this renewed vitality was my mentor. I am so grateful for his help.
Out of this vitality flows life. How is your relationship with God? Who’s helping you explore this? Where do you experience his presence in your life?
The second key to thriving is deep connections. Yes, it’s loving God and loving people.
How are the quality of your connections?
My family are gold, love them so much. The love and prayers I had sown into them over the years came back in my time of need. It was so special having my adult children and their spouses pray with me. Beyond your family whatever that maybe, deep connections can be built and are vital to your well-being.
Three other types of relationships have significantly helped me to thrive. I mentioned my mentor. His fatherly encouragement was a normalizing voice in the storm. His voice pulled me to safety through the fog of high stress, anxiety and depression. Friends outside of church ground me and let me know I am valued beyond those I serve. Colleagues in ministry who walk with the same limp, from similar battles have been a lifeline. Their nods and words like “you will get through this” gave strength and courage.
If a major crisis happens, who will turn up for you? What friendships are you investing in?
Live your assignment
The third key is to live a purposeful life.
What I am here for?
In the business of senior minister combined with a national executive role, I lost sight of my purpose. I came undone evaluating myself against someone else’s gifting/calling. Paul makes it clear that feet are not hands and hand are not feet. Chatting with my mentor helped me reflect and rediscover my purpose and see the emerging assignment to empower others to help people be all that they were created to be and do everything they were made to do.
Do you know your God-given assignment? Are you living that? Most people tend to make it harder than it is. Rather than asking the question what, start with who. The first commandment is to love God and to love people. Who? God and people. Who has been placed in your life? Like Philip in Acts, serve the people where God places you. There the Spirit of God can develop your gifts and guide you to where he wants.
My story is the good shepherd is a restorer of souls. May you thrive.
Who can help you:
- Increase your spiritual vitality?
- Deepen your connections?
- Rediscover your assignment?
Resources you may find helpful:
If you are coaching someone through burnout, or experiencing burnout yourself, we suggest looking through the many ResourceZone coaching guides and skills builders. After spiritual renewal comes the practical. These guides walk you through simple steps to make necessary changes and shore up your ministry. Some the topics you will find there are: