With all of the news of mega church pastors leaving, taking sabbaticals and burning out, I thought it fitting to discuss helpful ways that The Salvationist can combat burnout as well. Burnout is real, it is not something imagined or evidence of a weaker person simply giving up. We all face exhaustion from time to time, and we also face critical, stressful situations that leave us looking for the exit sign…trust me, I’ve been there on numerous occasions.
But as an Officer and Salvationist, we have a mission to serve, but what if along the way we face difficulties, discouragements, and suffer depression and loss of passion? What then? I can assure you this is nothing new, and many have been to this point…many have also walked away because of it.
I will also boldly say that The Salvation Army must recognize some of the lasting structural inconsistencies. The quasi military approach that once thrived is not as appealing as it once was to a very individualistic thriving culture. Sometimes old models of leadership need to be challenged in order for real change to take place and so that we can once again get back to mission instead of policy. So, right off the bat, understand the Titanic turning of a large, global organization (movement) is daunting and sometimes frustrating to face.
Harvard Business Review had an article that identified six virtues of a dream company, which was compiled by hundreds of business executives. For our purposes, imagine this “dream company” to be The Salvation Army…see if these virtues match:
1. You can be yourself
2. You’re told what’s really going on.
3. Your strengths are magnified.
4. The company stands for something meaningful.
5. Your daily work is rewarding.
6. Stupid rules don’t exist.
(Source: HBR Article Link)
Apart from the organizational issues, what can individual salvationists do to combat burnout while serving within its ranks (soldier, officer, employee ect.)? Here are just five ways to combat burnout in our Army. Take them for what they are, a primer that allows us to face real life issues happening all around us. This is just a “starter list”…there is much more that can be said within this topic.
5 Ways To Prevent Salvation Army Burnout:
1. Have an Identity apart from the Army
Sometimes this goes against conformity doesn’t it? We are told to dress alike, be of one army, one mind, yet we are also people who need to know who we are as God’s children who are called by Him. We must find out who we are apart from the uniform, apart from the mission. Sometimes this requires us to take a step back and reevaluate who we are and why we do the things we do. Self identity is vital to combating burnout because without knowing who we are we can become washed away by the powerful tides of stress that are rampant in any organization. When you go home, when you spend recreational time away – be yourself!
2. Find Hobbies To Enjoy
Not everything is about mission sometimes (gasp!), in order to combat burnout is a fast paced thriving movement such as the Army, we must be able to relax from time to time. Some are excellent wood workers and carpenters and they relax by doing what they love. If you paint – then paint. If you enjoy geocaching, then get out and do that! Find things to enjoy, to look forward to on your next unscheduled day. Plan for these hobbies. Be intentional in taking the time to enjoy them. This will enable you to disconnect from the everyday stress of “work”.
3. Leave Your Work At The Office!!
Seriously, we have a lot of work-a-holics in our Army. That’s not all bad. Hard work is wonderful! But when it jeopardizes your families, when they don’t know who you are anymore because you constantly work, there is something wrong with that! I would even go out on a limb and tell you overworking yourself is a sin. STOP IT! When you can, leave the work at the office. This will not always happen, I know that, but when you can leave it! Combating burnout requires us to take drastic steps, and for some of us, leaving unfinished work at the office is very, very drastic!
4. Switch Things Up!
We all get stuck in ruts sometimes. So change up your schedule. Go for a walk, spend more time talking to people instead of staring at your computer screen. Flip your schedule so that some of your work gets done at the end of the day. Do something different so that the ruts are broken, and in so doing, you might experience a little bit of perspective within your day. When you do this, take time to breathe. I own an apple watch and I laughed at first at the new update on it. It’s a new app called “Breathe”…what it does is remind me to take a full minute and focus on my breathing. It was dumb at first, but then I started doing it, I switched up my schedule in the process…but now I look forward to that moment where I just breathe and relax. Combating burnout in your life takes an effort to switch some things up. So don’t just talk about it…do it!!
5. Take Your Sabbath Seriously!
This, I consider to be one of the biggest sins in our Army.
Far too few of us really take a Sabbath. Yes, it’s our day off, but we’re still “catching up” on work. If God rested on the seventh day, don’t you think we should too? Or are we essentially saying, “I’m better than God” in our actions? When you plan your Sabbath days – TAKE THEM! Don’t bring work or ministry into your Sabbath! This is the time that you need personally to recharge your “batteries”. You need to plug yourself back into the Power source which is God Himself! Whatever that reconnection looks like to you, don’t take it for granted! Get alone with God, find the time, stop sinning in overwork and do it! If we really want to combat burnout, we must begin to realize just how important that Sabbath is for us. It’s not just another day off, it is a day (or a matter of hours) to recharge and rest.
I know that there are other ways that will help combat burnout, what are some tools that you have used in your ministry? What has helped you? Why not share them here and help all of us as we ponder this together! As always, thanks for reading! Something more for our Army to ponder today!
God Bless you!