Volunteer Burnout

Volunteer Burnout

Volunteer Burnout

I’ve said it time and time again, “I am not going to raise my hand and volunteer to help with that project. I am not going to offer to extend my services this time. I already have too much to do!” Yet, more often than not, I still find myself volunteering to help out in some fashion. Sometimes, even when I do successfully pull back from volunteer work, I still struggle with a tendency to offer to help out in the future—in spite of the fact that I know I will be just as busy and just as in need of rest.

I admit that, some days, I do not have time to read my Bible because of a deadline related to my volunteer work. Situations like these should be unacceptable to us. Keeping a biblical perspective on life and work should direct us as we seek to prioritize our time. Every minute—every single second—counts in life, but what we choose to do should all be done to glorify God.

Without question, there are times when we should take a break from volunteer work. According to Ecclesiastes 3:12, “There is a season for everything, and a time for every event under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.” Sometimes, we arrive at a point in life that God has appointed for us as a season of needed rest. We should not overwork ourselves when we need to pull back and regroup.

This is not to say that we should grow lax about volunteering to help others. Charles Spurgeon stated, “Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” We should actively seek to volunteer to help others, but we should not do so at the expense of our work commitments, spiritual commitments, or physical and emotional health.

Finally, we should never forget that our time is limited. My dear friend, Susan Norton, decided that once God healed her of her cancer, she would visit hospitals to tell patients about the miracle God had given her through faith. God did heal her for a time, but sadly, her cancer came back, and she did not get that chance. She was cancer free for just three weeks before she died at the young age of 55. She was beautiful inside and out and will be dearly missed!

Time is precious. We have to use it wisely because we never know when it will run out. But when we do offer to help others, we should do so in a healthy manner that doesn’t leave us physically drained and helpless.

We need to teach our little ones how to use their time wisely by being a living example!

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Volunteer Burnout — 2 Comments

  1. Lee Ann, I am right with you. Volunteering and regretting it. I’ve learned over the last 26 years, since my special needs daughter was born, that I can’t do good for anyone or anything if I’m not taking care of myself. And that others are quite capable of doing the things I volunteer for and then struggle doing.

    Just this spring, a friend suggested a book called Boundaries. It’s written from a Biblical perspective and is really interesting. They talk about even God having boundaries. And the difference between a burden and a load. We’re to help carry burdens, not loads. Burdens are the boulders. The things people truly need help with such as an emergency or death in the family. Loads are the knapsacks of personal responsibilities. So many people confuse them. They want help with their knapsacks as well as their boulders.

    I wish I had known about this after Anna was born. Not a single person said to me, “Pam, you have a sick baby. Someone else will take care of this.” None of the parishioners or even the priest (who was a woman and should have known better). I kept working and working at the church and one afternoon, I melted down on the kids. And I was lectured by the priest for doing it. Anna hardly slept. We ran to the doctor’s office every other week. I was practically walking into the walls. I don’t remember a lot of her first year. Why couldn’t anyone see this?? The only thing I can come up with is that if I stopped doing things, THEY would have to pick up the slack. But I don’t really know for sure.

    Today, I say NO often, as I still have Anna who has autism, severe mental retardation, and daily seizures and I also have the full time care of my MIL who has Alzheimer’s dementia. I’ve learned to look at the needs at church and/or friends & family and determine if it’s something I can do. Resting is not a waste of time. Taking a walk is not a waste of time. Going to the doctor for a check up is not a waste of time. Preparing and eating healthy food is not a waste of time.

    I can’t tell you how much better I feel! I’m also working on not feeling guilty for saying no, and I’m doing pretty good with that. Thank the Lord! :)

  2. Dear Pam,

    Thank you for your wonderful testimony! That is an excellent book and I read it several years ago. I highly suggest it to others who have a difficult time setting boundaries! May God continue to give you strength and bless your family!

    Lee Ann

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