Burnout

Sisyphus

(A Conversation)

You know I didn’t make that up.

Yeah, but you sure nailed me with it.

Only because I know what it feels like.

Yeah, I know you do.

So… back to the metaphor… you feel like you’re pushing a 2,000-pound rock up a hill by yourself.

That about sums it up.

Well give me back my rock!

Dude, you can have it.

Just kidding. You can keep it. It looks really nice rolling over you.

Wow, with friends like you…

Yeah, yeah.  I do have one question about this picture, though.

Okay.

You have the hill, the boulder, and you.

Uh huh. [click to continue…]

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Quicksand

Ever have a conversation like this?

Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.

Not sure.  Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.

I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.

The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal.  If it were easy, anybody could do it.  But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.

At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.

At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.

Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]

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Speakers

Years ago I was shopping for a stereo and learned an interesting lesson in the store.  I cranked up the volume on a set of speakers and was impressed with what I heard.  But the sales assistant told me that even a mediocre set of speakers could do that.  The measure of a speaker’s quality, he said, was how low you could turn the volume and still hear quality sound. Then taking the volume all the way to zero, he slowly raised the level. Before the dial reached “1” I was hearing a full range of music from a quality set of speakers.

The same idea is true in the spiritual realm, as no less than Elijah from scripture can testify. [click to continue…]

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There’s a well-known philosophy in some leadership circles that leaders never admit their mistakes.  This being an election year, you can expect to see that in full force.

The problem with that philosophy is that being in a position of leadership – formally or informally – puts you out in front of people where they can see your mistakes loud ’n’ clear.  So when you pretend you don’t have any, you look worse than proud.  You look rather stupid.

The biggest issue with mistakes in leadership is not whether you make them, but whether you repeat them.  Show me a politician, a corporate executive, a pastor, or any other form of “leader” who dodges the issue of failures, I’ll show you a leader destined to repeat the same mistakes.

On the other hand, if it’s true that being a leader means being “first learner,” then one of the best places to start is with your own lessons learned the hard way.  Here are 10 lessons I learned by getting it wrong before I ever got it right: [click to continue…]

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Joey’s feeling pretty small today.  That’s what happens when you’re supposed to have the right words to say and there are no right words for a family in needless grief and pain.  So Joey just hangs there, offering the ministry of presence.  Hoping to offer some kind of life or lift that will help.  But who will lift the lifter, and remind Joey what it’s like to stand tall and strong again?

Joey needs a carrier.

Alicia would never admit this, but she’s a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman.  Greatly admired, if not revered, she never seems to sleep, and lives pedal-to-metal most of the time.  She gets more work done by lunchtime than girls half her age and boys of any age do all day.  But behind the success and flair, Alicia hides an ugly secret:  She’s exhausted, and nearing the point of just not caring anymore.  And though she has a hard time admitting she can’t do it all, she, too, needs a carrier.

Joey and Alicia are real-life examples of somebody who’s near you, or who is you, right now…

  • Tired, but no end or help in sight…
  • Overwhelmed, but no clarity about what to hold onto and what to let go of…
  • Weepy at times for no apparent reason, or for any little cause…
  • Feeling abandoned or opposed against the tide of opinions, accusations, or criticism…
  • Disappointed by those once trusted, confused in the very areas that once produced confidence …
  • Surrounded by pain, yet seemingly helpless to do anything about it…

All these and more are the unmistakable signs of someone – maybe you – who is calling for a carrier, whether they know it or not. [click to continue…]

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“I feel like a man with three dollars in my pocket. Maybe a quart in my tank. And what astounds me is how quickly I think about spending what little I have. I get a little bit back in my soul and I start thinking about advancing the Kingdom. People that need my help. I get a little bit of God back in my tank and I start thinking about who I need to pray for.  Lord have mercy” (John Eldridge)

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Hi, I’m Andy, and I’m a fumaholic.

(All:  “Hi Andy!”)

I’m really glad to be here tonight to share my experience, strength and hope with you. The First Step says that “we admitted we were powerless over our fumaholism, and that our lives had become unmanageable.”  So tonight I thought I would share how my life got to that place.

I’d like to start with a couple of confessions… that is okay in a place like this, isn’t it?

(Room erupts with raucous laughter) [click to continue…]

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Burnout“I will recognize that this day is a gift to me.  Today and every day I will take the time to encourage the encourager.  I will recognize that my greatest gifts become available to others only when I offer them first to myself and to my God.”  -from “The Encourager’s Creed

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”  -Psalm 46:10, The Message

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His innovative, radical ministry shook and shaped the town where he lived.  He started a church from scratch and tossed tradition on its ear.  He insisted that worship services be seeker sensitive – events that people would actually enjoy attending.  His preaching was simple and plain, filled with word pictures, practical application, and charisma.

He led his people to reach out with God’s love by establishing an innovative system of literature distribution and visitation.  In a matter of months his church went from mission to mega, with more than a thousand people attending his Thursday night Bible study.

He was a prayer warrior.  This guy spent an hour a day just praying for the Jews!  Another hour daily in general prayer and meditation.  An hour and a half in breakfast and family prayers.  Six hours in prayer and devotional reading on Sundays.

Oh, and then there was the revival.  Returning from the Middle East, he found the town turned upside down with a fresh invasion of the Spirit.  People came nightly to hear him preach the gospel.  Hundreds came to Christ.  Without question, he was one of the greatest Christian leaders any generation has ever witnessed.

He died in 1843.

Age – 29. [click to continue…]

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rejectionDear Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and concerns with me last week.  I respect your honesty, and am frustrated that you have experienced so many disappointments and hurts in your church relationships.  While I can relate to many of them, only you know how savagely this has impacted your life and the life of your family members.

I know it has to be a bit surreal to always feel as though, in your words, “you kept missing the memo” about what was expected beyond a simple faith in Christ.  And to be caught in between two conflicting women “leaders” had to have felt like a no-win situation.

I still don’t understand what the whole turf war stuff was all about.  But I do understand the tension between trying to show grace and love to someone in deliberate sin and yet not approving the lifestyle.  I guess until Jesus comes, we’ll still be arguing about that one. [click to continue…]

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We pass a word around our office that my associate once used to describe me, and it stuck:  Crispy.

He used it a few years ago when he and our office manager decided they’d seen enough of me in the state I was in and informed me that I was taking my wife on an R & R trip to the mountains.  My reservations had been made, and they weren’t taking “no” for an answer.

I hope to God you have somebody who looks out for you like that.  I wasn’t aware of how emotionally and physically fried I was.  The sad truth about stress, crispiness, and burnout is that often others see their effects on us before we do.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been crispy, and it probably won’t be the last.  But there’s a further step that can be devastating.  Burnout, in a clinical sense, means you have completely exhausted every form of energy necessary to continue.  More than just losing interest (“I’m sort of burned out on jazz these days”), I’m talking about those times people go to their wells and find them completely dry.  Times when people shock those who know them best by walking away from relationships, careers, or wisdom.

“Stress makes people stupid,” a management consultant once told Daniel Goldman. Burnout reveals it to the world.

So how do people get in such a state – past stress, past crispy, all the way to emotionally nuked?  Let me suggest three quick and easy recipes for complete emotional, mental, or spiritual exhaustion: [click to continue…]

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