Remember that favorite discipline mentioned in our first thing not to do? Pigeonhole yourself. Another reason to not pigeonhole yourself is that too often we overuse the one discipline we love. We use the practice so much that we burn out on its use. Like eating your favorite meal until you are sick of it.

I used to love tater-tot casserole. Every time my school served it my mother would give me extra money to buy extra servings. I’d buy the limit and then ask everyone who wasn’t eating their serving to let me have it. All was well and good until one day I ate so much I got sick. Tater-tot casserole was never the same after that.

One of my favorite prayer disciplines is the Liturgy of Hours. But there have been times where I lost my taste for it. The Hours are extensive. I would find myself reading them for the sake of reading them without gaining any benefit. I would have to set them down for a while, at one point for eighteen months, just so I could regain a value from reading them.

Believe it or not, I have seen people burn themselves out on church also. They would be at church several days and nights a week. Sometimes for committee and team meetings. Sometimes for small groups. Sometimes for worship. Before you know it, they were spending 5-6 nights a week and then they would be so tired that church, or any faith development, became fruitless.

Here’s a good rule of thumb I learned from Thomas Bandy of Thriving Church Ministries: You should only serve as a leader in one small-group and as a participate in another at the same time. In other words, you should be leading and being led but only in one group each at the same time. 

I don’t think worship, spiritual disciplines, or “church” was ever meant to be exhausting. I think it was meant to be refreshing and recharging. While it may seem like commitment and devotion, burn-out will do more damage than good. Always has and always will. That is why we call it burn-out.


Toby Lofton

Pastor, Teacher, Author.

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