Skip to main content

Zeal without Burnout




Zeal without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Slogging through 70-80 hour work weeks, feeling the weight of disapproval from the congregants, getting not much in the way of rest, all these things lead to spiritual burnout for pastors.  Yet, as Christopher Ash begins his book called Zeal without Burnout,  he writes, “For many of us there is a different path.  One that combines passionate zeal for Jesus with plodding faithfully on year after year.  I want to write about this path (14).”  Having twice come to the edge of burnout in ministry, Christopher is no stranger to these issues. 

One of the first sections of the book is devoted to sacrifice.  Ash writes, “There is a difference between godly sacrifice and needless burnout…You and I came from dust and our bodies will return to dust.  At no point in our lives in this age are we far away from reverting to dust.  We are very fragile (24, 37).” To sacrifice in a sustainable way we need to be keenly aware of our limitedness and fragility.  Sleep, Sabbath, friends and food are all things we need but that God does not.  Constantly bearing witness to ourselves about our fragility and dust(ness) is healthy and a sobering reminder that we tire and wear out, that are bodies are not meant for 24 hour work mode.

The celebrity of ministry can be a major cause of burnout for many.  In fact, the mere exponential growth of some congregations can produce an amazing amount of pride in some, but also the feeling of success.  After Denis told his story about celebrity burnout, he offered four things that might help others; focus on the Lord’s definition of success, seek help from a mature Christian friend, share the load, and don’t neglect you spiritual, physical, and mental health (93).  The size of our congregations can’t bring out the reason why we do ministry nor sustain our bodies.  Rather, loving God and the people in church involves breaking away from a lone ranger mentality.

This is a truly great book, one which people in ministry and in the culture should read.


Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and the goodbook company for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…