Today I am returning from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) meeting in Nashville. I’m a part of a wonderful group called Women in Christian Media which meets before the NRB conference. I spoke at a little breakout session on the topic of “Ministry Burnout.” Now it seems to me that Ministry Burnout and Mommy Burnout have a few similarities. Although we love what we are doing, we admittedly get drained and tired at times. Sometimes we just don’t know if we are making a difference, and we could use a healthy dose of encouragement along the way.
As a former track coach, I use the analogy of running a long difficult race to the challenges we face with burnout. But there are also several positive principles from running which can give us strength and perseverance. Whether it is a short race or a long distance one it is important to keep your mind on the finish line. The writer of Hebrews gave the same encouragement to early believers. “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)
As moms, let’s keep our eyes on Christ, asking for strength, patience and guidance from Him. When I coached sprint races, I told my runners to never take a glance at their competitors. Just one glace to the left or the right would slow them down and they could lose the race. As moms, we can easily become discouraged when we look at other moms. The comparisons we allow to roll around in our minds make us question ourselves or get frustrated that we are not doing enough. Run your own race, eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.
In saying that I want to be careful not to discourage us from reaching out to others to help or encourage other moms. We need to encourage other mothers, and we need to receive encouragement as well. It helps to join together with other moms and give each other a good word and a hearty hug of hope. Mentors can remind us “this too shall pass.” You are not in this race alone. We all need people in our life who can cheer us on.
Finally, we ought to look carefully at our lives and consider anything that needs to be eliminated from our lives. Two areas that tend to weigh us down are bitterness and busyness. Consider if you are harboring any bitterness that needs to be dealt with personally, and if there are any activities for you or your kids which are unnecessary and stressing you out. There is a time and a season for everything and that season may be later rather than right now.
Run your race with excellence. Recognize that burnout happens to us all. Persevere, keeping your eyes on Jesus and getting your eyes off of others. Find encouragement from other moms and mentors and get rid of areas which are dragging you down. It’s a tough race, but it’s worth it!