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I Can’t Keep Up with the Workload: Part 2

  • The Navigators NavPress
  • 2007 19 Sep
I Can’t Keep Up with the Workload: Part 2
Always Saving the Day
From the Youthworker interview “Coping with Stress and Burnout in Youth Ministry” with Carmen Renee Berry

The messiahs have no problems, no needs; they are the controllers of the bad people and the helpers of the good people.

This is a dangerous hook, because when you’re feeling good and confident, you’ll take on more than you should. But when you’re feeling badly about yourself, you feel you’re not worthy enough to take time for. “I can’t cut back, [others] need me,” you tell yourself. “So much is going on in church right now. I know I should take a couple of days off, but I have too much going on.”

And it becomes an addictive lifestyle. To complicate matters, churches often reinforce it. For the most part, churches underpay and overwork their employees. A church staff member gets one day off, but is generally on call 24 hours a day. The idea of a six-day workweek is unheard of in most other professions, but not in churches. Even if you’re giving residential treatment, you get two or three days off a week. Because the ministry has such an unrealistic demand and pays so poorly, it sets you up for stress with a double whammy. . . .

You wrap it up in Scripture and . . . [convey] the message that if you’re a really good person, you’re overachieving. Really good Christians are involved in every activity. Really good Christians are there whenever the church is open. Really good Christians do nothing for themselves, but are always involved in ministry programs. A [Christian leader] living in the addictive lifestyle of stress emphasizes in his or her teaching how to take care of other people while ignoring the signals God has given you about yourself.

• Are you a messiah? Are you inclined to think that if you don’t do something, it won’t get done?
• If your job is a ministry job, does this description sound familiar? To what degree does it reflect your experience? • Even if your job isn’t a ministry job, what if any similarities are there between this description and your experience?
• In what ways do you feel the trickle-down effect in your workplace of the boss’s work ethic (and work hours, work style, and so on) to your office? Is it a healthy or unhealthy trickle?

Lord, help me to see . . .

Copied from Juggling Chainsaws on a Tightrope by The Navigators, © 2007. Used by permission fo NavPress, All rights reserved.