4 Keys to Help You Thrive and Avoid Burnout

School Leadership

It’s the middle of the school year! Many of you are leading students on a powerful journey of growth and transformation. In the midst of a busy season, we want to remind you that you were destined to thrive! It is God’s intention for you to be fruitful (Genesis 1:28), to experience His goodness on earth (Psalm 27:13), and to be satisfied with long life (Psalm 91:6).

Today, we want to share four keys that will help you thrive in life. As a team, we believe God is releasing wisdom and grace to cut out stress, find balance, and abundantly prosper! May He reveal steps you can take in this season to receive the abundant life He has for you (John 10:10).

1. Make a “Not To-Do List”

As school leaders, our schedules are often demanding. Some might be juggling several different roles in our school environments. Others may be working full-time jobs, leading a family, or serving in a local church–all while helping run a school. We cannot afford to be distracted or to give our time to things are not our number one priority.

To be productive, efficient, and focused, we often create a “to-do list.” However, we sometimes fail to intentionally create a “not to-do list.” To stay focused on the vision God has given us, we need to consciously remove things that should not fill our schedules. It’s important that we are aware of the things that can pull us away from being about our Father’s business.

If you feel you don’t have enough time to take care of yourself and your responsibilities, we encourage you assess your priorities. Create a “to-do list” as well as a “not to-do list.” This is especially helpful if you are someone who struggles to say “no!”

Remember, you can’t do everything. It’s important to even be able to say “no” to positive or exciting opportunities.

Recognize what God is highlighting for this season! Choose to live a thriving lifestyle by filling and protecting your schedule with the things God has called you to accomplish now.

To become more efficient with your time, check out our Staff Resource Pick: The Storyline Productivity Schedule. We also recommend taking time to read 3 Reasons Why We Love Todoist.

2. Define Your Relational Boundaries

To thrive in life, it’s crucial that we intentionally create and protect personal boundaries. Everyone should not have the same level of intimacy and access to our lives. If we included everyone in our most inner circle of relationship, we would eventually become depleted. We need to establish boundaries that convey the amount of time and energy we can give to others.

Jesus modeled personal boundaries as He invited some disciples to be part of His inner circle (Peter, James and John), while others had less access. While He loved and served the crowds of people that came to receive from Him, He didn’t always say “yes” to them. Scripture shows us that Jesus would choose to retreat alone or with His friends.

As school leaders, it’s crucial that we define our personal boundaries so that we can love and serve our students with longevity. We need to intentionally care for ourselves, even before caring for the needs of others. Sara Webster, a BSSM Second Year Revival Group Pastor, recently shared with our team how she has learned to maintain boundaries so that she can thrive in her role:

In my early days of pastoring, I didn’t have good personal boundaries and so I gave a lot of my emotional capacity to my work, and would go home and crash. After a year or so, my husband started to feel the effects of that. Giving everything that I had to work and not having something to give when I went home was not a good, long-term plan. At BSSM, a lot of pastors are challenged to develop boundaries in their early years of working here. We are running an emotional marathon and it’s so easy to give, give, give, before we realize that we are tired.

Now, what I try to do for myself is to avoid getting close to crossing the “burnout line.” Often, we will pace our lives right next to that burnout line and think we are ok. But the problem is, in this line of work, there are unexpected things that come up all the time. If a crisis comes up, and we’re already close to burnout, the crisis sends us over the edge.

Instead of living close to burnout, why don’t we stop way before it? Why don’t we stop way before we’re tired? We should take a day off before we actually need it so that we have a reserve for those unexpected things that come up. We need to think about longevity and to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves.

Growing up, I heard that, “If you want to experience real joy in life, you have to think of life as Jesus, others, and then you.” I was being told that “me” was the last priority, which is just not true and not healthy! If I have nothing to give and am close to burning out, what student would want to have a meeting with me? Sometimes, our spirits are strong enough for us to get through being tired, but again, it’s not a good long-term plan. As a pastor, I have to unapologetically take care of myself. Not because I need to get through the school year, but because I have 40 years left to live. – Sara Webster

3. Take an Emotional Health Pulse

As Sara shared above, we need to intentionally care for ourselves. That includes caring for our soul, spirit, body, and mind. If we are devoting our lives to developing those around us, we need to stay filled up! When we flourish, those receiving from our leadership are more richly blessed.

We believe thriving in life starts with being aware of our emotional needs and making those needs a priority. As human beings, we have a need for intimacy and connection. We were designed to be seen and loved by others, both in our highs and lows. Connection grafts us into family so that we never feel alone or isolated. In turn, we feel known, significant, and accepted.

When we are dealing with pain or disappointment, we need comfort. God sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter so that we could experience safety, security, and peace. He also placed us into a body of believers so that we can receive empathy, strength, and covering.

Today, we encourage you to take an emotional health pulse by asking yourself, “Am I thriving emotionally? Do I have unmet needs? Are there emotions I need to process?” If you realize you have some specific needs, connect with the Holy Spirit and your community to find support and experience wholeness. We also encourage you to check out 5 Tools to Grow in Emotional Health, which offers greater insight on how you can care for yourself and prosper emotionally.

4. Love and Care for Your Body

We are called to tenderly love our souls as well as our physical bodies! Another key to thriving in our lives is being intentional to care for our bodies, for they are a dwelling place for Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, we bring Him glory and honor when we care for our bodies!

Stress, anxiety, low energy, illness, and disease are not God’s plan for our lives.

He is our Healer! He has invited us to co-labor with Him to nourish and protect our bodies so that we may fulfill our callings. As our Great Physician, He grants us wisdom and insight to prosper physically; that includes knowing the right amount of sleep we need, how much we should be exercising, what foods we should be eating, and more.

If you are in any way struggling with your physical health, know that God has solutions for you! If you are wanting to make changes to better care for your body, His grace is available.

We want to encourage you to watch the first session of “Healthy and Free” by Beni Johnson. In this video, Beni shares her testimony of getting well for the long haul. She discovered her “why,” which motivated and empowered her to pursue a healthy lifestyle after dealing with hypertension and being overweight. May her story of hope encourage you to pursue God’s best for your body so that you may thrive!

To watch more sessions from Beni, check out Healthy and Free.

The Journey Starts Now

Remember, your students, fellow leaders, community, and especially your family, will receive the best of who you are when you are thriving! We encourage you to take steps to care for yourself, develop rich connections, and protect your priorities. Grace is available to empower you to live from the abundance of heaven.

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