How do I know if I am burned out or just tired?

Burnout is an unofficial term for the extreme results one might experience based on prolonged stress, a crisis in life or just plain exhaustion. We attempt to differentiate between between burnout and tiredness in the following ways.

Common characteristics of burnout include: lethargy, a lifestyle of a noncaring attitude, total detachment, numbness toward tragedy, emotionless, loss of perspective and vision, extremely synical, no interest in the Word or even serving the Lord.

Common characteristics of tiredness include: Worn out from a major event that has been experienced or some major project finished, late nights, less sleep than usual, temporary listlessness.

Howard Hendricks once said, "85% of spirituality is a good night's sleep!" We bring this up because the phone calls we receive related to burnout usually consists of a time to analyze whether the person is burned out or just plain tired during a particular period in their life.

We'd like to offer some helpful hints, whether you might be experiencing burnout or exhaustion.

  1. Get a regular physical checkup.
  2. Gather some folks who will pray for you regularly and provide a support base for you in your life and ministry.
  3. Have some type of regular exercise in your schedule.
  4. Watch what you eat.
  5. Take up a hobby or some type of diversion so you are not immersed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in ministry demands.
  6. Take a REAL vacation. Leave your pager, cell phone, etc. behind for an extended period.
  7. Develop a daily stress management plan.
  8. Do not try to be a messiah to everyone.
  9. Rest in the love and grace of God by immersing yourself in the Word regularly.
  10. Seek counsel as needed either from another pastor, a professional counselor, a pastoral retreat center, etc.