- Overenthusiasm – unrealistic goals/idealism with unrealistic plans for achieving them (this is a predictable early stage of burnout).
- Depleted energy and enthusiasm – “Keeping up the speed” is becoming increasingly difficult. You feel physically and emotionally worn out, depleted, debilitated and fatigued. There is a loss of creativity, initiative and motivation or drive – The passion for work/ministry is decreased. You may use delegation as an excuse to be lazy.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns – Insomnia, trouble falling asleep, inability to stay asleep, wanting to sleep all the time, over/under eating, comfort eating unhealthy foods. Self-medicating through unhealthy/too frequent use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- Difficulty making decisions – You begin to make easy decisions rather than right ones (what you know God wants you to do) because the right ones take too much work. You experience loss of focus and clarity of thought - Your mind hits a wall. Short-term memory may deteriorate because of the mental overload.
- Sense of failure that persists for more than a few days – Feelings of inadequacy, loss of self-confidence.
- Emotions tend to be inappropriate and on edge – Your response towards others becomes depersonalized. You find yourself displaying negative or inappropriate attitudes toward people. You are irritated by others more easily. You have become increasingly critical of churches, people and ministries that you feel God is blessing more than you.
- Difficulties coping with regular day-to-day activities – Even the menial and mundane tasks seem to be too much to deal with.
- Feelings of being overwhelmed by the problems of life – problems seem insurmountable.
- Sense of helplessness hopelessness and meaninglessness – Inability to see a way out of problems. You despair life, have actually thought about death, perhaps even entertained suicidal thoughts.
- Interpersonal Symptoms - Avoidance of interpersonal contacts (isolationism). You become increasingly withdrawn from family and friends. You don’t want to visit with people. You just want to be left alone. Increased marital and family conflicts, trust issues. You are disconnected at home . . . you don’t want to engage with your spouse or children . . . you cannot enjoy being around them . . . you can’t remember the last time you had a conversation with your spouse that wasn’t about church . . . you can’t remember the last time you simply had fun with family and friends and joy is something you talk about but are not experiencing for yourself.
- Persistent feelings that are negative and cynical – about self, others, work, and the world in general. It is difficult to care. Every day is a bad day. You are beginning to despise people and your compassion for them is continually decreasing rather than increasing. You are experiencing increased irritability and disillusionment with people. You may have a general feeling of being mistreated.
- Suspiciousness – obsession with what others say about you . . . and one negative comment from someone who does not like you can put you into an incredibly deep valley and cause you to feel hopeless.
- Unexplained depression or anxiety that lasts for more than a few days – you have panic attacks you cannot explain.
- Loss of a sense of idealism and purpose – You begin to doubt the power of God in your life and in the life of others. You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.
- Stagnation (ministry loses its thrill and becomes mundane), Frustration (feelings of incompetence), Apathy (ignoring, avoiding ministry tasks) - Caring about the ministry or your home life seems like a total waste of energy. You feel like a “ministry machine” that does what you do out of guilty obligation rather than out of an overflow of your own intimate walk with God. You can’t remember the last time you opened the Bible devotionally to commune with God rather than trying to find a sermon/Bible study. “The rate at which you are doing the work of God is destroying the work of God in you!” – Bill Hybels
- Dread of going to work – You feel a sense of entrapment at work or in relationships. You often think about changing positions, or of leaving ministry and doing something else. You feel a reduced sense of reward for pouring so much of yourself into the ministry/others.
- Stress related physical problems - such as ulcers, frequent and/or debilitating headaches, backaches, frequent colds, or sexual problems (decreased interest in intimacy/sex with your spouse), weight change - gain/loss, high blood pressure.
Still Waters Restoration & Resource Ministries is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health and wellness among Christian Ministers and their families.
This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used in place of professional consultation/treatment for individual health needs.