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If Christ's "yoke is easy, and His burden is light", why do Church workers get a Burnout?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIB)
In July 2011, I began my soul searching journey in the Anglican Church - the Church I feel most comfortable in. Tell me that I would be a Church worker before that, I would have looked at you madly. Once upon a time, I took pride in being an "irreligious amoral and nihilist" person. Basically, I believed in God, but not in religions. In July 2011, nonetheless, I took the step to inquire within the Anglican Church.
There, I volunteered out in the office, the Anglican Resource Centre and assisting the priest in their pastoral ministry. In September 2011, I was offered an internship at the Parish.
I enjoy the work I do. Meeting people, talking with people, assisting people in prayer. Counselling as well as teaching. I enjoy sharing the knowledge and love for Christ with those who seek Him. I revamped the Parish website, attended meetings with clergy and representatives of other Churches.
But over the weekend, July 21st-22nd, 2012, I began to feel a drag. I felt anxious. Somehow, I was unsettled. And my fear had materialised: I was having a burnout! But how can this be?
If Your Burden is light, why do I feel so weary?
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. (Mat 14:23-24 NIB)
Usually when we read the Gospels, we are absorbed in the awesome powers and strength of Jesus. We do not notice the more subtle times that Jesus, alone or with the disciples, having that moment of retreat.
We are doing many things in the Church: preparation of the Church for Mass, preparation of the pew bulletins, writing the weekly communion and service reports, preparing sharings, testimonials and lessons, chairing a meeting or two, drawing up the minutes and so on. But we need to realise that these are tools to facilitate our ministry. These reports and paperwork are meant to keep track of changes and record events. These activities demand intellectual and physical effort that would drain anyone. These activities are of the world.
How often do we allow ourselves to stop from it all and just have a few moments with our Father in Heaven? Do we take a moment from our busy schedule to sit at God's feet like Mary? Or are we so preoccupied with the preparations like Martha?
Work must be done, but it doesn't mean we ought to abandon God. More so as Church workers and volunteers.
I have a burnout, what next?
Let me share with you my experience. What I am doing or will be doing. The burnout is really distracting me and my defences are low. I admit, I am susceptible to temptations. The grass on the other side, I must admit, looks greener! But here are my follow up action plan:
- Talk to the priest. I'm in the parish office and there are four priests attached in the office, including the vicar. So, I need to take a moment of their time and tell them about the burnout.
- Slow down. I'm operating at a very fast pace. Too fast that I bore myself. In some instances, like the website, I work on it even from home! I don't allow myself a time for rest at all! Sometimes, I'm too busy with work to read the Bible.
- Realign expectations. Burnouts wouldn't be reduced by having more expectations. Failing to meet up to those would merely worsen the situation. Let's put it this way: if you broke your leg, would you still run around to complete your tasks because you want to increase your productivity? After all, before you broke your leg, you can run. Why should a broken leg stop you?
- Allocate more time for prayer and Word. Earlier I said I was too busy. Why not make more time? Pray the Spiritual Communion prayer, perhaps. Remember that we just need to ask, and believe, that all God need's to do is say the word, and our souls would be healed.
- Go for recreation. I plan to walk around or exercise. This would allow me to move more and change my focus for a bit. At least life isn't about work and expectations. Being idle isn't a solution as well. So, why not move about?
- Meet up with friends. I may not be a drinker or go to clubs. But I do have friends who go through burnouts. Talk to them about non-confidential things. Talk about something else other than work. Or, just seat in the company of another.
- Change routine. Another contributor is the dull routine devoid of real spiritual meaning. Thus, changing the routine is a good idea. Allow some diversity in what you do.