By Chidiebere Dennis Owah.
OVERCOMING BURN OUT IN MINISTRY:
TEXT: I KINGS 19:1-21.
The Christian ministers are described as lights and light-bearers in the world of darkness. They are also designated as flames of fire in the field of evangelistic ministry.
Now, what does that imply? It implies that these set of men and women who are God’s ambassadors and representatives on earth are to have constant anointing to be able to sustain the fire and light of the Holy Ghost in order for them to fulfill the divine purpose of influencing men and women who are in moral and spiritual darkness to come to the light of the gospel.
However, experience has shown that sometimes these anointed men and women could, as a result of some circumstances lose the constant possession of this fire of the Holy Ghost for effective ministry in the Vineyard of the Lord. This is what is known as ministerial “burn out”. It is a state whereby the minister of the Gospel loses the enthusiasm, energy, earnestness and gumption with which he or she started the ministry.
Ministerial burn out by way of definition could mean a situation whereby the called and commissioned minister and worker who should be aglow and aflame with the infilling of the Holy Ghost unction,fire and fervency suddenly becomes cold,weak, fatigued, drained, wearied and frazzled as a result of either exhaustion from over work, daunting challenges or other circumstances.
It could be likened to kindling a fire, fanning it to a flame, and then all of a sudden withdraws the fuel supply. What will happen to it? Well, known to you as it is to me is the fact that it will invariably die out. That is how burn out takes place in a minister’s life. It is a sudden or gradual process of the dying down of the ministerial zeal and decency of Christian leader or worker. It is a state of redundancy, ineffectiveness and loss of usefulness in a minister’s life which leads to lack of productivity in God’s service.
The case of Elijah the prophet in our text is a perfect example of what ministerial burn out is all about.This was a man who was burning with the zeal and the anointing of the Holy ghost. This was an anointed Prophet which no man or anything could stop; a man of the fire and power of the Holy Ghost. But here you have him praying for death. That is what burn out does in the life of ministers. It reduces a man of faith and great authority to a lily-livered coward and weakling. But today God is going to give us all victory over this experience in Jesus name.
We are considering the following points in this piece. They are:
POINT 1: EXAMINING SOME SCRIPTURAL CASE AND EXAMPLES MINISTERIAL BURN OUT ( 1 King 19:1-4; Num. 11:10-15; 1 Sam 28:1-6; Job 6:1-4; 7:2, Jere. 20:7-10; John 21:1-3; 2 Cor. 1:8,9).
Ministerial burn out is not a new experience with called ministers of God. It is an experience that is as old as the gospel work itself. Men and women who have thrown their soul glowing ardour into this battle for the truth have, at one time or the other, had this experience. In fact burn out experience is a possibility among the gospel ministers. A closer observation of the scriptures would reveal the fact that men like Elijah, Moses, Job, Jeremiah, etc underwent this experience at one stage or the other in their ministries. They were, at one time or the other, overtaking by this spiritual menace-burn out in the ministry.
The above established fact is what gives as many as are in the throes of ministerial burn out or fatigue hope of recovery. The Lord who called us into the ministry has foreseen the possibility of some of us finding ourselves in this pitiable spiritual state, hence these accounts of men and women who were there before us. He did that deliberately to assure us that if He could help them to recover; He will surely enable us to do same today.
All that the Lord requires from us is sincerity of heart and purpose. He is the one to do it as He has done aforetime. His will for us is that we remain fiery for Him till the end.
POINT 2: ESTABLISHING SUNDRY CAUSES AND ENABLERS OF MINISTERIAL BURN OUT (1Kings 19:1-3; Num. 11:1-10; Judges 6:1-20; 1Sam. 1:3-6; Pro. 26:20).
Ministerial burn out is a malady as well as a menace that has rendered a number of called ministers of the gospel ineffective and unproductive in the service of God. It has inhibited the ministerial growth of a host of others. This pitiable state has also affected the growth of the local churches as a result of the lack of initiative on the part of the local pastors. In fact, we have some very great evangelists an preachers that were doing great exploits for the Lord whose ministries have been grounded and rendered ineffective as a result of the unfortunate experience.
Now, what are some of the sundry causes of ministerial burn out? What are some of the circumstances that could bring about this undesirable condition?
They are the following:
1. Sin,unrighteousness and backsliding(Judges 6:1-20).
2. Prayerlessness and the lost of focus and vision(1Sam. 28:1-6).
3. Lack of rest and refreshment after a marathon ministry(Mark 6:30-32)..
4. Worry and anxiety(Job 6:1-4,7).
5. Disappointment and discouragement(1Kings 19:1-3).
6. Challenging circumstances and perennial trialsNum. 11:1-10).
7. Herculean ministerial tasks and highly demanding assignments from the Lord(Jonah 1:1-3).
8. Fear, doubt and unbelief(John 21:1-3).
Now, those factors and a host of others are what lead to ministerial burn out when they are not deliberately taken care of. A lot of promising and progressive ministers have lost their budding ministries due to their negligence of these spiritual cankerworm that leads to spiritual and mental dryness and aridness.
But, by the grace of God, we are here to deal with them in this conference for the pastors and leaders. We are here to revive every dry soul; restore every backslidden minister; and reinstate every lost ministry.
We are going to achieve that in Jesus name.
POINT 3: EXPLORING SUSTANABLE CURE AND ESCAPE TO MINISTERIAL BURN OUT(1 Kings: 19:1-21; Ezek. 3:1-15; Jere. 4:1-3; Math. 11:28-29; Mark 6:30-32; Psalm 27:13, 14; Rom. 12:11-17; 2 cor1:8-10; Eph. 6:10-18).
Just like Hippocrates, the father of medicine stated, “Desperate malady or sickness must be tackled with a desperate and determined approach”. If it is with the unfortunate experience of ministerial burn out, we need a very serious approach for a minister to overcome it. It requires some concerted efforts for someone to get out of it. Now what are these efforts we need to put in for us to come out of this precarious state of inertia and ineptitude?
They are the following:
1. Sober reflection(Psalm 74:1).
2. Sincere repentance(Rev. 2:5).
3. Sustainable resolutions(Phil. 1:21).
4. Sound rest after a long-drawn ministry(Mark 6:30-32).
5. Sustained reading(1Tim. 4:13-15).
6. Self-readjustment(Psalm :27:13).
7. Self-reinvention(Phil. 4:13).
8. Supplication with resoluteness(Isa. 40:27-31).
In conclusion, I want to state that God has called us unto an enduring and sustainable ministry which we cannot and will not allow any form of spiritual dryness or burn out to destroy. We have the responsibility of sustaining and stoking the fire till all our ministries are fully fulfilled.
May God help and support us to do that in Jesus name.