My Burnout Story
friends, thank you so much for your love and grace (and advice) as i was processing some things yesterday (and really the last couple of weeks). i am 100% sure i am not going anywhere. i am too in love with this community and the written word. but i am also 100% sure that some things will likely change about what i do here. not enough change that i change myself.
mostly just the intent of WHY i post. can it be pointless? yes. but when it isn’t, may i be led of the Spirit as to what to write. for myself, learning the importance of being humble. and because of THAT, this will still be a place where real people can gather together and grow in relationship with Christ through authenticity. may this be a place where people come as they are… flaws and all.
over at anne’s blog yesterday she asked some people for their burnout stories. on video. i totally did it, but cheated by writing it out and reading it. i tried being coy, but it totally didn’t work. i bring it up from time to time, but i would like for you to hear (er… read), for yourself, what my ministry burnout story is all about.
Hello, my name is Crystal Renaud and this is my burnout story. But more importantly it is my story of healing. A story of where I was and where I am today. It hasn’t been an easy journey but definitely one I have learned a great deal from.
You see, although I am only about to turn 24, I have been in some form of ministry for over 8 years. It all started when I was 15 years old and I was taken under the wing of my mentor at the time. She was a leader in my church. I began volunteering in the office after school, just answering phones, making copies, etc.
Fast forward 4 years from that point and you find me at 19 years old, fresh-faced and working in full-time ministry as an administrative assistant to one our pastors. Now, if you don’t believe an admin is full-time ministry, let me just clear things up for you by saying, heck yeah it is. I believe that more underbelly of ministry is seen through the eyes of your assistants, and secretaries and receptionists than any other area of church staff. It was while I was still an admin that I saw first hand what ministry burnout can lead to. I saw one of my best friends and her boss, both-coworkers of mine at the time, have a moral failing. And it was in that moment that my faith in people was forever rocked.
But therein lied the problem, that at the time didn’t realize WAS a problem. I had more faith in people than I did in God!
So while not truly healed from that experience, I threw myself into my job. Losing that very important line between my job and my ministry. The line was horrifically blurred. Single, and having a lot of free-time on my hands, I was working more hours than I ever should have been. Watched my own immediate supervisor and best friend, Anne Jackson have her own battle with ministry burnout and in turn watched her leave the ministry we were serving in together.
Again, fast forward about 2 more years, and remember that mentor I told you about originally…? well, she too had been having a long-term moral failing …with our senior pastor. My mentor, and the man that I saw much like the spiritual father-figure I had always lacked.
It was months and months of putting out fires, carrying too heavily the burdens of a broken church body, dealing with the aftermath of a losing such influential leaders. And more personally for me, not dealing with the fact that I had virtually lost the most influential Christians I had in my life.
I was depleted. I was done. Just over 6 months ago, I was ready to throw in my hat and give up on church. It was obvious to me that church leaders were all frauds, I was “perfect” of course and to save my life, I had to leave.
That’s when God took over things. He began to restore the heart I had unknowingly hardened 3 years earlier, after having witnessed that first moral failing of my friends and I actively pursued healing. I was called to healing. Breaking me of my pride. And although I am still on the road of healing, I know that I am not alone and I know that without a doubt, than man will mess up again and again. But God’s grace covers those sins and thankfully, my own. And through that grace, I have even restored some of those broken relationships as well.
When the next time something like this happens, I am better prepared, I have the tools needed to overcome them.
It is my prayer for you, that you too would run after God, making Him who you trust, Him who you put your whole trust in and allow Him to shape your ministry future. I find that it is a lot easier when you just surrender, and follow Him.