Burnout (Part 1)
I. Burnout is the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength brought on by continued stress; it is a
loss of enthusiasm, energy, idealism, perspective, and purpose.
A. Scripture calls it despair which is the loss of hope. 1SAM 27:1.
1. Without hope we are lost . ROM 8:24.
2. Without hope we are adrift without an anchor. HEB 6:18-20.
3. Without hope we are defenseless, without a helmet. 1TH 5:8.
4. Without hope we are insecure. JOB 11:18-19.
5. Without anticipation we have nothing to live for.
6. The arrow with no target falls to the ground.
B. GAL 6:9 is a telling commentary on burnout.
1. A person starts out doing well.
2. As well doing escalates, he becomes weary.
3. He loses sight of the prospect of reaping in due season.
4. He faints, that is, he gives up.
II. The following are characteristics of burnout:
A. Acute emotional pain. PSA 6:3; PSA 55:4a.
B. Fearfulness, a continual sense of dread. PSA 55:4b-5a.
C. Trembling. PSA 55:5a.
D. A sense of being overwhelmed. PSA 55:5b; 143:4.
E. Loss of energy. PSA 88:4.
F. A disgust with life and work. ECC 2:15-23.
G. Just putting in your time on the job and going through the motions. JOB 7:2-3.
H. Confusion, no sense of direction. JOB 10:15; LAM 3:6, 9-11.
I. Fretting. PSA 37:1.
1. Fret: “To gnaw. To chafe, irritate. Chiefly with regard to the mind: To annoy, distress,
vex, worry. To distress oneself with constant thoughts of regret or discontent.”
2. This fretting can lead to anger and sin. PSA 37:8.
3. Fretting can be against the Lord. PRO 19:3.
J. Bitterness. JOB 7:11; 10:1.
K. Excessive cynicism towards others. PSA 116:11.
L. Rejection of comfort. PSA 77:2; GEN 37:35; EXO 6:9.
M. Detachment, a desire to escape and be left alone. JOB 7:16; 10:20; PSA 55:6-8.
N. Loss of sleep. PSA 77:4; JOB 7:3-4, 13-15.
O. Loss of appetite. PSA 102:4.
P. Difficulty in concentrating. PSA 88:15.
Q. Reduced accomplishment. JOB 7:3.
R. Physical problems. JOB 30:27; PSA 102:3; PRO 18:14.
S. Loss of fellowship with God. PSA 77:7-9; JOB 10:16-20; 30:20-22.
III. The state of burnout is dangerous.
A. In such a state a person may give up on serving God and others.
B. It can lead to serious moral downfall. JER 18:12.
C. The burnout victim can be suicidal.
IV. A continual barrage of problems is definitely a factor in burnout, but some people have had this and
have not burned out.
A. Consider the plight of David as expressed in PSA 3.
1. He could sleep in the face of increasing trouble.
2. He would not be afraid of ten thousands of enemies.
B. Consider David’s plight in 1SAM 30:1-6; yet he encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
C. Or consider Paul who, though troubled on every side, was not in despair.
2CO 4:8-9; 11:23-33.
D. Therefore, we must look deeper to find the cause of burnout.
V. Following are some of the causes of burnout.
A. Over-commitment, trying to do too much, is a major cause of burnout. EXO 18:13-18.
1. This is the person who thinks he must be perpetually available for everyone and
everything. He cannot say “no.”
2. It is the person who thinks he must do everything himself and, therefore, never delegates
responsibility to others.
3. This is the person who thinks of himself indispensable.
4. It is the person who must know everything about and control all people and situations
5. It is one who assumes responsibility for everybody’s problems.
6. This is the person who finds his sense of worth in an endless round of “productive”
7. It is one who feels guilty if he relaxes and does nothing.
8. This is the person who will not even stop if he is sick.
9. It is Martha cumbered about with much serving, careful and troubled about many things.
a. Note that such persons neglect spending time at Jesus’ feet hearing His word
which is that one thing “needful.”
b. Such persons also resent those who are not doing what they are doing.
10. It is the husband and father of several children who owns a home and two cars, works
sixty hours a week at a job that is thirty minutes away, attends functions at his children’s
school, goes to school to improve himself professionally, faithfully serves his church,
plays racquetball to keep in shape, tries to maintain a social life, and dies of a massive
cardiac arrest at age forty-two.
B. Unfulfilled expectations or deferred hope are another major source of burnout.
LUK 24:17-24; PRO 13:12; PSA 13:1-2; JER 15:16-18.
1. One can become SO absorbed with an unfulfilled expectation that it is all he thinks
a. This continuous thinking is exhausting and frightening.
b. In such an exhausted state even small problems and decisions become major
c. In such a state a person begins to fear he is going mad.
2. This is the person who expected appreciation for a job well done and did not get it,
3. This is the man who poured himself into a business enterprise which promised great
profit only to lose everything.
4. It is the woman who has longed and longed for a baby and yet never conceives.
5. This is the parent who poured himself into his child only to have that child turn out to be
a fool. PRO 17:21, 25.
6. It is the parent who keeps hoping that a wayward child will get his act together.
7. This is the person who thought he was married for life only to have his spouse abandon
8. This is the abandoned lover who hopes that his beloved will return to him and yet waits
and waits for that time.
9. It is the person who has been betrayed by a friend he thought he could trust.
PSA 41:9; 55:12-14.
10. This is the person who hopes for a job change or a move that sometimes seems close but
11. It is the one who expects someone to change yet that person stays the same.
12. It is the sick person who keeps thinking he will get better but does not.
13. This is the person who thought he could please everybody and discovers that he cannot.
14. It is the person who thought he joined a perfect church only to find that it is made up of
15. This is the minister who labors to produce more mature church members and yet sees
little or no progress in some.