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Burnout blues


Causes of volunteer exhaustion and ways to avoid it


By Mark K. Brewer C


ongregations have always relied on dedi- cated volunteers who


give their time and talent to activities they value, doing so as an act of discipleship. For Lutherans, the call is to faithfully steward God- given giſts to spread the good news and serve others. But sometimes volun-


teering has its dark side. Some church leaders chronically overcommit and overextend themselves beyond their ability to maintain balance. Without realizing it,


these dedicated individu- als start to creep into the dreaded volunteer burnout zone. Oſten it begins with ushering once a month, then serving on the finance committee, teaching weekly Sunday school, sitting on the congregation’s church council and then attending synod assembly. Suddenly a member’s calendar is so full that being in church feels like a chore rather than a place of restoration. Sound familiar? If your mood is low


and your anxiety, stress and depression are high, you may be experiencing volunteer burnout. Simi- larly, if you’re involved in church volunteer work or are responsible for recruit-


32 www.thelutheran.org


‘Sometimes saying no to things is the healthier response than agreeing to do everything.’


ing and nurturing volunteers, take a moment to assess the well-being of your team.


Warning signs Te following are some of the warning signs for burnout, according to a variety of sources, including Roy Oswald, a retired ELCA pastor who writes about congregational life:


• Do you dread doing things that you once enjoyed? • Are you doing more but feeling less productive and less satisfied with your accomplishments?


• Do you lack enthusiasm? • Are you mentally absent or unfocused? • Are you absent or tardy from your commitments? • Has your personality changed? Were you formerly


JEFF CARNEHL


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