Avoiding burnout: Warning signals (Conclusion)

October 25, 2018

The Counseling Corner

By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th

“…he leads me beside quiet
waters, he restores my soul.”
– Ps. 23:2b-3, NIV

This series began reminding our readers that in today’s contemporary society, people are doing more and giving more of themselves than ever before. Burnout is real. Merriam-Webster defines “burnout” as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” This series discussed the characteristics of burnout, its warning signals and addressed clergy burnout. In this conclusion, you will be encouraged with a few tips to avoid burnout and setting personal boundaries.

Dr. Susan Biali, in an article regarding the 8 Tips to Avoid Burnout and Balance Your Life, she makes a few suggestions, which include:

• Get the best sleep you can.
• Meditate/pray in the morning.
• Make “no” your default answer.
• Give yourself a sabbath day every week.¹

Setting personal boundaries

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him or her what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. Personal boundaries define you as an individual, outlining your likes and dislikes, and setting the distances you allow others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem.² Setting personal boundaries and realistic limits on demands is necessity for every child of God, especially clergy.

Jesus warns, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37). In other words, do not equivocate; mean what you assert, and adhere to your assertion. As one guards their boundaries, they are, in a sense, clarifying their expectations, creating predictability and stability in their lives.

Beloved, the bottom line is the burnout crisis has everyone’s attention and can provide a point of readiness for change in one’s life in many ways. One person cannot do everything for everybody. If they try, more than likely, they will experience the feeling of being overwhelmed. In this contemporary society, there is more opportunity to overlap family time with work and leisure time as technology such as smart phones, social media and email make it literally possible for one to stay connected around the clock. Remember, the only person that knows how much is enough is you and only you have control over the way you want your life to be. There will always be that inherent tension between what you have been called to do and what others expect of you. Do not let others foist their agendas and expectations on you. Know your limits, goals, needs and issues and adhere to them, and you will avoid running with your emotional, spiritual and mental tank on empty.


1 Biali, Dr. Susan, Overwhelmed? 8 Tips to Avoid Burnout and Balance Your Life, (Psychology Today, Posted May 2013).

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_boundaries

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in this article, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Further, this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your medical doctor or health care provider. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.