Monday, May 30, 2011

Why Christians should take job burnout seriously

I sometimes think Christians are slow to admit dissatisfaction with or burden from their work life...kind of like mothers are reluctant to say they're tired or frustrated in their duties caring for children...they feel as if admission, even to themselves, will bring judgement and is an indication of inferiority on some level. Here's a list of reasons that I think it's essential that we be honest with ourselves and others about how job burnout affects us:

  • It's not a sign of weakness or a deficient relationship with God. Yes, you may need to focus more in a time of employment crisis but the fact that you're not skipping and singing through a minefield doesn't make you a bad Christian. 
  • It doesn't make you ungrateful. It's a tricky dichotomy. Situations in life are seldom clean cut blessings or difficulties. Family is a support system, a blessing and sometimes a burden. Financial success is great, but brings with it additional responsibilities and changed reactions from those around us. Why would a job be any less complex? Even in difficult economic times, it's possible to be thankful that you have a job that provides for your physical needs, but still be worn down by the psychological and emotional effects that it brings. Those too, are real. 
  • Job burnout affects your relationships. With your coworkers, your parents, your wife, kids, friends, strangers, all of them. How exactly depends on an individual, but if you are emotionally drained from work, you don't instantly become a wellspring of positive interaction when dealing with people. Ignoring it will take a toll on your life. All of it. 
  • Job burnout can weigh on your physical and mental health. These are probably the first symptoms people are willing to admit. A failing gland and lost hair were my call to the reality of the weight of the work environment. 
  • If affects your job. Most people need their jobs for things they need AND things that make them happy. Even though you might not be trying to buy your happiness in diamonds, pearls and really sweet rides, chances are there are simple things in life that bring you small pleasures that do cost a few dollars. Unfortunately, if you're burnt-out, your performance will suffer, which will likely add pressure from higher ups and, if you're the kind of person that's likely to suffer from burnout, will weigh on you in the form of anxiety and personal doubt.
  • It may be a sign of something bigger. I don't believe burnout just happens. It's there for you to learn. It's there to nudge you closer to God. It's there to show you what you need. It's never just there.
  • It will change your relationship with God. This has been the trickiest for me. Personally, I'm not one of those people who runs to God when things are bad. My first instinct is to solve problems myself. For good or bad though, it does shake things up.

So yeah...guilt, shame, fear, denial, whatever the reason, we all owe it to ourselves to be honest about this "phenomenon" of modern life. 

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