December 2020- January 2021
Passing the Faith
The column "Leadership Whiteboard" provides a short visual leadership coaching moment. It introduces and explains a new sketch in each issue, provides leadership coaching for further development, and shares a leadership quote and recommended book.
Burnout Through the Eyes of Winnie the Pooh
“You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh. But author A. A. Milne reminded us through other characters that emotions can swing radically. For example, who can forget bouncing Tigger having fun living in the moment, or Owl whose wisdom calms the moment? Do not overlook Piglet who always worries, feels anxious, and struggles with self-esteem. Then there’s Eeyore, who carries the weight of the world on his droopy shoulders, seeing the doom and gloom in every situation.
Illustration by E. H. Shepard. Appears on page 29 of A.A. Milne's book, The House at Pooh Corner in Chapter 2.
While each of these characters were friends of Christopher Robin, these characteristics accompany our outlook as well. While you would love to claim the calm of Owl or the positivity of Tigger, you also need the cautions of Eeyore.
After Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, a long-time pastor in Houston reported the churches in that region experienced a turnover in staff/ministers of about 25%. Helping people during the storm and the aftermath caused one in four staff members to burnout and leave the ministry. Something about a crisis brings out the best and worst in all of us.
Do you recognize the characteristics of burnout when you see them? They do not carry cuddly names like Piglet, but they get close enough to influence how you feel, respond, and act. If a hurricane took out 25% of ministers in the Houston area, what will COVID do to the world’s ministry population?
What does burnout look like? The World Health Organization came up with three factors: exhaustion or depletion of energy, increased mental distance from one’s job that may include cynicism or negativity, and a reduction in desired results or effectiveness. Everyone feels some or all of the above at times, but when the characteristics linger, what do you do?
Five practices help prevent burnout: hobbies, exercise, sleep, eating right, and avoiding isolation. Find a hobby, other than television, to help you change lanes mentally and stop the stress of your day from occupying all of your mind. If your hobby includes exercise, one stone—two birds. Eat well and get regular sleep. Routines are your friend and varying what you dwell on helps enormously.
You need Eeyore to balance your inner Tigger, but he should not dominate all the time. God gave us emotions and rationale to work together in ministry and life. Find a friend to whom you can talk honestly and lay that same honesty on our Father in prayer.
About the Columnist: Ron Hunter Jr., Ph.D., is CEO of Randall House