Blog Post from Zach Prosser, MCC

How to Recover From Burnout

With all of the changes over the past two years, more changes to come, and an added need to help others through change, we all face a similar and common challenge — burnout from change fatigue.

Whether its natural storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Ida or metaphorical storms like the Covid-19 pandemic and its many subsequent impacts, all “storms” in life bring with them a common theme: CHANGE!

In addition to the forced change from a “storm” comes just normal changes from everyday life. In ministry, we not only manage our personal changes, societal changes, political changes, and cultural changes, but we are looked upon to help others through their personal changes too. And then comes added organizational changes to manage all of these external changes. Change is everywhere!

We know that the change cycle follows the grief cycle. So, as people change, they are grieving the loss of something. Then, there’s change overload. There’s a term in organizational development called CHANGE SATURATION. It is when there are so many changes happening within an organization that they cannot be appropriately adopted. Turmoil is the result. This happens to people also.

With all of the changes that have been happening over the past two years, more changes to come, and a demand to help others through change, one thing is certain for those of us on the frontlines of all this change — burnout and fatigue. If you are not aware of the tendencies of burnout and the signs of change fatigue, you can easily walk into (or run head-first into) the wall of burnout. Burnout is what is causing church members to disappear and pastors to abandon their leadership. It is why offerings have dropped. It is why 40% of pastors are leaving the ministry. So, how do we recognize change fatigue and the warning signs of burnout?

Warning Signs of Burnout

NOISE: More complaining and easily irritated

APATHY: Disengaged and indifferent about life or tasks or people

BURNOUT: Extreme exhaustion and disconnection; a sense of not wanting to be involved and be left alone

STRESS: Anxious and uncertain; unable to manage the stress well; what was easily handled before becomes a roadblock 

RESISTANCE: Pushing back at life, tasks, directives, others

NEGATIVITY: Cynicism is at its best in change saturation

SKEPTICISM: Self doubt, doubting others, not trusting others, easily offended with others; possibilities seem limited or unattainable

How do you deal with burn out or change fatigue? Developing personal resilience is how you re-energize after being drained.

Re-Energize After Burnout

SELF-AWARE: Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physiological reactions. Pay attention to your breathing, posture, heart rate. Notice emotional swings, exhaustion, or fatigue. Take time to be a self-observer and note what’s happening within yourself.

SELF-REGULATION: Adapt your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physiology to be refreshed. If you find it hard or impossible to regulate your mind, behaviors, emotions, or body, you may need counseling or to see a doctor. Take ownership of yourself and don’t blame others.

AGILITY: Develop the ability to view situations and people through different perspectives. Take time to think about or write down what other perspectives and filters may exist.

STRENGTHS: Focus on your strengths and what you are doing well to overcome challenges. Change fatigue and burnout often focuses on the lack or weaknesses. Shift the focus.

CONNECTION: Use strong relationships to boost your energy. Use the power of community to find the support you need to be re-energized.

OPTIMISM: Focus on what you can control and take purposeful action. You cannot control everything. You cannot fix everyone. You cannot change every situation. It all starts with what you can control — YOU.

Zach Prosser, MCC

Director of Coaching

Zach Prosser, MCC, is a global award-winning coach with experience of over 12 years in executive leadership and 20 years of nonprofit and pastoral ministry. He also serves on the ICF Foundation’s Council of Ambassadors bringing the impact of coaching to the world through social initiatives and education.

Among his coaching background, Zach holds certification in a range of psychometric assessments including 360 assessments, workplace inventories, and behavioral styles. Zach also holds a Doctorate of Divinity. He has also served as a university-level lecturer, and partners with a local ranch to provide coaching-equine experiences to coachees and organizations.

Zach’s passion to make an impact is demonstrated in his authentic coaching and facilitating presence, which empowers coachees and participants to advance and achieve results exponentially. Whether coaching C-suite executives, nonprofit leaders, or facilitating learning experiences, Zach’s passion for coaching is seen and felt in tangible results and personal growth.