4 Ways to Prevent Burnout Over Christmas

Luke McElroy

I want to try something on you. When you read the next sentence, I want you to try and identify the feeling that comes over you.

Christmas is only a few days away.

For some of you, it’s pure panic. You may not feel ready, or you don’t feel like you are prepared enough to take on all that’s about to come your way. That video isn’t finished. There aren’t enough volunteers. The music isn’t rehearsed. The program or slides aren’t designed yet. The list goes on and on. The mere thought of christmas is too much to handle.

For others, it caused a bit of relief because Christmas has become the light at the end of a tunnel. A tunnel that includes a long journey of preparation, perseverance and persistence of enduring the many hours of work/being at church. Regardless, it’s not the sugar plum fairies and silent nights that everyone else seems to talk about when it comes to this time of the year.

So with all the stress and burden that seems to come to those who serve behind the scenes at church, here are 4 ways to prevent total burnout this Christmas:

Vent outside the church.

It’s vital that you have someone who works outside your church organization that you can go to lunch with or grab coffee with in seasons like this. Not only will it provide a place to bounce ideas and hear what else God is doing in your community, but it will provide you a safe place to vent when frustration and pressure arise.
If you’re married, you’ll find that venting to your spouse only fans the flame of frustration, so this isn’t a safe place to vent either. As well, venting to family is tough because often you’ve already stolen hours from them to give to the church. It’s a bad situation.
Further, venting to your own pastor can be tough too (since they’re also likely a best friend, a spiritual advisor and boss). This trifecta of roles can cause for a perfect storm and only cause your situation to become worse. Find a great friend outside your organization but one who can empathize during this season.

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Add things that give you life.

My good friend Dr. Andrew Johnston just released his first book, specifically on leading creatives. In it he talks about the season of the fire hose, or those moments like Christmas where you feel like you’re drowning by the tasks around you. One of the most paradoxical principles that he uncovers during seasons of overwhelming burnout is: when you’re trying to breathe in a season of never ending tasks and to-do’s, add something that gives you life to help you breathe better.
It seems weird because you don’t think you want more “stuff” to do in your day, but you’ll find that when you take that extra 20 min to read that book you’ve been wanting to read, or get up 15 min earlier to just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, you’re mind gets to relax. This is essential to overcoming that feeling of drowning; allowing your body to find new land, rather than constantly trying to get rid of the water around you.

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Find a way to worship and get in the Word.

Just the other day, I was listening to Erwin McManus’s brand new podcast and he talked about the role of worship and mental health. He mentioned something that has since transformed the way I worship in church. He basically alluded to the idea that worship is ultimately surrendering. And there is something powerful when we worship in spite of our mental weakness and stress. We are telling God that He is still in control, even when we’re trying to hold our entire world together. But we also tell those around us that we believe in a God who can save us from this state of being.
Don’t let the planning of worship, ruin your ability to worship. Instead, let the stress of planning worship move you more into worship, by spending more time in God’s presence. Surrendering your tasks and stress to the God who has supernatural power to handle it all!

Let others be the Hero.

I love being the hero on our team. It brings such gratification when I can come in and save the day. I’m sure you feel the same way too. If you love what you do, there’s a natural tendency to say “I’ll do that” when there’s a great opportunity in front of you. Why wouldn’t you want to prove to leadership you can handle big tasks, etc? But be careful. In our own attempts to be the hero in the story, we inadvertently invite kryptonite into the story as well.
Let others be a hero too. It’s imperative to invite others into your process and your tasks. Regardless how tempting it is, don’t try and take everything on by yourself. As much as you think you’re helping everyone on your team by taking on more work, you’re actually hurting them just as much. Ever notice on a plane when the flight attendant says “please put your own mask on before helping someone else”? It seems selfish doesn’t it? The reason they say it, and the reason you need to let others be a hero too is because you can’t help others when you’re not able to help.

In the end, spiritual health never “just happens.” It takes work and being intentional and no one else can create margin or build your faith in God than yourself.

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I pray this season, and others like it, don’t become something you agonize, but become something you thrive in and look forward to.  I pray your perspective sees life change more than the sacrifices you have to make in order to craft the right atmosphere for life change.  

About Luke McElroy

Author / Speaker / Entrepreneur
Orange Thread Media | Nashville, TN

Luke is the founder and visionary behind Orange Thread Media, the parent company to Orange Thread Live EventsTripleWide Media and the creative arts conference: SALT Nashville. Beyond his ability to cast vision for creativity in live events and worship environments, he’s passionate about mentoring, leadership and teamwork. Some of the work he and his team created have been used by American Idol, Blake Shelton, Bill Engvall and thousands of churches around the entire world.

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