Leading From A Place Of Overflow: What Burning Out Taught Me


I became a youth pastor when I was 18 years old. I do not recommend anyone to do this. It was by the grace of God and support shown to me by others, that I was able to faithfully serve the Lord. 

I served at a small local church for 5 years and afterwards, served at another church for 3 years. During the 8 years that I was a youth and college pastor, I was also in full-time school, part-time with a missions organization, lived with 8 guys that I was discipling and started dating Andrea who is now my wife. 

During those years I have had multiply nervous breakdowns, anxiety attacks and one time I even started coughing up blood while preaching! I was burned out and living off fumes. Multiple people sat me down and told me I needed to slow down. They told me that I should cut down on school, move out of the house and even take a break from ministry. In hindsight, they were right. I barely made it out alive.

I learned so much from that season of my life. Through the process, I learned how to take care of myself the hard way. Today, I am so much happier and living an emotionally healthier life. However, I am just as busy. The difference is, I learned a principle that allows me to be just as busy but continue to maintain a life of joy. 

I want to share something very simple but potentially life-altering if you can apply this to your lie. If you are tired, anxious and on the verge of a burnout, I hope this can encourage you. 

Here are the four questions you want to ask yourself:

  1. What fills your heart (energy)?
  2. What drains your hearts (energy)?
  3. Who fills your heart (energy)?
  4. Who drains your heart (energy)?

Asking yourself these four simple questions and gauging your heart is essential to living a life of overflow. If you want to live a life overflowing with love and joy you have to be able to answer these four questions. Here are just a few examples from my personal life. Yours may look completely different from mine.

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The chart above might look completely different from how you function, but those are just a few examples from myself. It is important to acknowledge these things in order for you to renew your strength daily.

Your goal should not be to completely ignore the things and people who drain you, but to be aware of why you may be drained. If you go too many days doing things and being around people who deplete you, you will lose your passion and start living life off fumes. You will start getting anxious, nervous and maybe even depressed. It is important that you learn how to manage your heart and emotions in order to be a faithful servant of the Lord!

So the question is how can you do this? How can you start managing your emotions in a way where you can live a life of overflow? 

  1. Learn how to say no. Learning how to say no is going to be one of the most important skills you learn. A lot of people who burn out are relational people who like helping others. However, know that every yes comes at a cost. You have to learn how to say no to things and people that are going to exhaust you. 
  2. Make time for yourself. Schedule into your calendar people and things that bring you life. Plan ahead and put in things in your week, month and year that will give you renewed strength. Take a day off and sleep in! Put a vacation in your crazy schedule. Go eat some good food with some good friends. Make sure to make time for yourself!
  3. Know yourself better. Most people don’t know themselves. They just go along with life without spending any time reflecting and understanding the inner wirings of their soul. God has designed you uniquely and there is a reason you are feeling the way you feel. Whenever you feel strong emotions such as anger or great joy, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Getting the answer to that question will help you make wise decisions.

I hope this can be a source of encouragement to you guys. This content may be very simple, but once I put it into practice, it filled my heart with the joy of the Lord again. I never want to go back to a place where I was constantly anxious and emotionally unstable. May God give you the wisdom and strength to serve Him with joy!

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William ChungComment