How do I learn to prevent burnout when I become a missionary?

“Schedule ‘off” time”

One way to prevent burnout is to schedule down time into your calendar, as you do any other event. Then stick to it! Secondly, have an accountability team to hold you to a number of hours that is reasonable.

A great resource for learning how to handle stress and build margin into your life as a missionary is the Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills course. It’s a hugely worthwhile investment into your life.

Answer from Carol, who has served with TWR in Netherlands Antilles, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the U.S. for more than twenty years.

“Follow an example from the New Testament church.”

For you to ask such a question, you have probably already experienced burn-out personally or watched another go through the painful process. The best solution to the problem is the prevention of it. In Acts 4, three thousand people from many nations put their faith in Christ.

As they went back to their home countries, their solutions to maintaining a strong Christian witness is the solution to prevent missionary burn-out: They remained steadfast in the Apostles’ teaching (dig deep into the Word daily!), in fellowship (be a vulnerable part of a team), in breaking of bread (practicing the sacraments), and in prayers (an open communication with God, our Father, through the many types of prayer).

Answer from Neal, who has served with Emmaus Road International for thirty years.

“Cast all your cares on the Lord.”

You can prevent burnout by learning to relax and to cast all your cares upon the Lord. After all, you are only a vessel and called to be a witness of the great things the Lord has done and will do for those who put their trust in him.

Many get burned out, especially pastors, because they take the burdens of the people upon themselves instead of casting them on the Lord. We can and must have a compassionate heart, but we cannot carry their burdens; only the Lord can. A good idea is to have some distraction or hobby even in the mission field as this would relax one.

Answer from Rocco, who has served with Integrity-Ministries in USA for thirty years.

“Here’s what I wish I’d known about missionary burnout.”

I’ve written a full blog post about that here: What I Wish I’d Known about Missionary Burnout.

Answer from Sarita, who has served with Zion Project in Uganda for seven years.

“Learn the warning signs and what you can do about them.”

The risk of becoming either burned out by the difficult things you see and experience is worth taking seriously. As you pray and prepare, learn about the warning signs of burnout, compassion fatigue, and depression, and how you can deal with them in a helpful way. A few articles to consider:

What Missionaries Ought to Know about Burnout
What Missionaries Ought to Know about Compassion Fatigue
What Missionaries Ought to Know about Maintaining Mental (and Physical) Health

Answer from staff.

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