The Church Guide ~ PO Box 56474 ~ Virginia Beach, VA 23456 ~
BUSINESS FEATURE What Causes Burnout and What You Can Do About It
Back To Business Front Page
Burnout is never caused by a single area of life. Burnout is a function of our total life management. One area of life cannot get out of order without overt  choices of neglect being made in other areas of life. This  means that if we managed the other areas of our life well, it  would have contained the area (i.e., work, ministry, parenting,  etc.) that was the primary cause of burnout. We must resist the temptation to blame life, or even one  area of our life management, for the experience of burnout.  Burnout is a result of how we have managed our life as a  whole.  So, we might begin our assessment of burnout’s cause  with this foundational statement—burnout is the result of living  beyond our means with the time God has provided. It is common to say that someone is “living beyond their  means” financially. There is a cultural epidemic of people  spending more than they earn. The majority of Americans  have a negative net-worth; we owe more than we own.  We will use this parallel of financial and time  management many times, so begin to think in these  categories. The first thing God’s fairness requires of the person  moving toward burnout is to rest in the fact that everything fits  in a 168 hour week. This means that even if there are 200 hours worth of  excellent things to be accomplished in a week, that you can  have assurance at least 32 hours of your agenda are outside  the will of God for your life; not “outside the will of God” in  terms of being bad, but “outside the will of God” in the sense  that God will accomplish this, if it needs to be done, through  someone else. Budgeting rest, work and family In order to think this way, you must have an intentional  plan for how you use your time. Like a financial budget, it must  be detailed enough to be useful, flexible enough to be  practical and looked at enough to alter your life. Let me begin by offering some general parameters for  this time budget. First, you should allocate at least 50 hours per week to  sleep.This is a bare minimum of honoring the Sabbath  command to express faith in God by resting a significant  portion of each week. Second, you should budget around 50 hours per week for work Even before the Fall, God called every person to  productively use his or her life for the betterment of others and stewardship of creation (Genesis 1:28). Allocating these hours  may be easier for someone who works an hourly job than for  those who are business owners, independent contractors or  full-time parents. But some limit must be put on this sector of life or our  defeating motive (i.e., greed, ambition, people-pleasing, guilt,  perfectionism, etc.) will expand this aspect of life until it  destroys the others. When the rest of life is destroyed, productivity loses its  purpose. Third, you should budget at least 17 hours per week for marriage and family. This number is chosen a bit arbitrarily, but it represents  a tithe (10 percent) of your time devoted to family. Being part  of a family will strongly influence your usage of the rest of your  time.  This 17-hour time allotment is a recommended minimum  amount of time to set aside for exclusive focus on family. If  you are married with children, it would be very difficult to have  “quality” time with your family if this “quantity” of time is not  being met. “Family time” does not merely mean “in the same  building at the same time.” A useful definition of “family time” would be “investing  my full attention in something that affirms my spouse or child  by allowing me to know them better and makes them feel  more known by me.”  What kind of activities fit this description will vary widely  based upon factors such as personality, interest, age and  season of life. But the main point is that family time reinforces  and strengthens the sense of knowing and being known within  the family. Budgeting "the rest of life." Fourth, if you follow the recommendations above, that leaves 51 hours to be allocated for “the rest of life.” The other parts of life should feel “holy” (set apart by  God) before the week begins. In the first 117 hours of the  week you are merely looking for the most situationally-wise  and enjoyable way to accomplish rest, family time and  productivity. It is only in these last 51 hours that we should feel an  additional degree of freedom about how to use them. For many people, this mindset will be uncomfortable, but  when we call ourselves “God’s servant” and claim to live  “under the Lordship of Christ,” this necessarily places a limit  upon our freedom. Within the first 117 hours, we are free within the God-  given role of finite creature, spouse-parent and productive  worker. Within these last 51 hours, we are called to do  maintenance, service and recreation. Maintenance: This involves cleaning one’s home,  mowing the yard, going to the grocery, paying bills and the  other mundane activities necessary for life. In this area, a  grandmother’s advice on home cleanliness provides sound  guidance for all areas of life maintenance: “A home should be  clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.” Recreation: This involves the kind of activities that you  find rewarding and replenishing that place you in the mental,  physical and spiritual condition to serve God and others. Life  requires more than 50 hours of sleep in order to be healthily  sustained. Here the advice is to know yourself—what restores  you, gives you energy or relaxes you? Whatever these things  are should be a regular part of your schedule. Service: This involves service through your church to  the congregation and community for the purpose of spreading  the gospel to the ends of the earth and deeper into the lives of those around you. The discussion that follows will focus  primarily upon this area since that is the particular area of life  that this document is designed to prevent from becoming a  contributor to burnout. No recommended percentages or time allotments can  be given for these three areas. But it should be noted that all  three are essential to healthy living and should be given time. Healthy relationships are those that actively help you  guard and honor balance in all three of these areas of  involvement.