I faced it in my mid-20’s. I was traveling too fast and trying to do too much. A doctor told me I needed to slow down or else. I thought that I didn’t want to find out what “Or Else” meant. I prayed, I did a lot of self-evaluation and confession of sin. I learned a lot about myself and the unhealthy things inside me that drove me to some of the really stupid things I was doing.

Brad Jenkins, lead pastor of Anthem Church in Tulsa, shares his journey and lessons learned about burn out.

Guest Post by Brad Jenkins

I woke up … and started crying. I cried off and on for three days. And I wasn’t much of a crier.

I was 25 years old and had recently started a ministry for college students and twenty-somethings. You might think I was crying because the Bible study wasn’t going well. Nope. It was amazing. We had our challenges, but we were reaching people and seeing lives changed.

So, why was I crying?

I couldn’t have explained it at the time, but something was wrong. I didn’t know what was going on inside me. I just knew I was overwhelmed. It felt like the weight of the world was on me. I wasn’t sure how to get back to my old self.

Eventually, I realized what was wrong. Ministry was something I was doing in my own strength. I was doing it for God, but not in God’s power. And the result? I was trying so hard, putting in endless hours, but I felt like I could never check off all the items on my to-do list. Can you relate? Even if I could meet the expectations of others (a big if), I could never seem to meet up to my own. I was empty.

Maybe you know how that feels. Empty is the worst.


A couple of years ago, we were taking a family trip to Albuquerque. We were in The Middle of Nowhere, Texas, when the dashboard gauges started to flicker, and then our minivan lost all power.

I pulled over to the side of the highway, a dangerous place for my family of six to wait for help. There was nothing in either direction. Desperate, I called AAA, who said they’d come out to help. “Thank you! How long will it take?” The response was not what I hoped – “Like … two hours.” Two hours?! AAA suggested I call the local sheriff if I needed help sooner.

I called, and he showed up within minutes. I explained I wasn’t sure what happened, but our car had lost power. Then I said, a little sheepishly, “I guess it’s possible we ran out of gas.” The sheriff replied, “Let me run you up to the gas station. We’ll get some gas and see.”

And … yep, running out of gas was the problem. We had been running on fumes for miles and miles and then went completely empty. Why? Because I hadn’t been paying attention to the fuel gauge.


I wonder if you’ve been feeling empty. So many are on the brink of burnout:

  • In 2023, 43% of people from over one hundred countries complained of suffering workplace burnout. 1

  • The American Psychological Association found, in a 2021 survey, that 79% of employees were experiencing work-related stress. 2

  • 83% of employees notice burnout negatively impacting their personal relationships. 3

  • It may not just be job-related. While burnout is generally associated with work, many contend that it can also result from non-workplace stress. 4

  • In fact, “55% of stay-at-home moms admit they ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ feel burnt out.” 5

Those statistics are sobering. I wonder if you find yourself in any of them? Could you be on a collision course with burnout?

Here are some signs you may be headed for burnout:

  • You infrequently have fun.

  • You don’t know how to rest.

  • You feel like you can never stop working.

  • You stare at the ceiling many nights because you can’t sleep.

  • You often feel drained, trapped, and alone.

  • You can’t see a future that doesn’t include more of the same.

Perhaps worst of all, you may want to love God, but you are running on fumes in a way that makes it difficult to love him the way you want to. Burnout is sucking the life out of your spirit. You lack joy and struggle to see the positive. It’s difficult for you to connect with God in prayer or worship.

Whether you are a CEO or a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), you are facing a lot every single day.

Can I (gently) suggest the real problem isn’t what’s happening around you but what’s happening (or not happening) inside you?

As I think back on my season of burnout, I realize I had been running on fumes, and then completely empty, for a long time. My heart for God and passion for people led me to do the Lord’s work, but I was doing it without the Lord’s help. The problem wasn’t with him; it was in me.

I burnt myself out. It was self-inflicted. I was striving to do good things but doing them in my flesh instead of in conjunction with the leading, strength, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

I realized that if I was going to move beyond burnout and bring my best – to the work and the people who deserved my best – in a sustainable way, I had to learn how to let God do the heavy lifting. Eventually, this led to some significant changes.


When I was trying to figure out what had happened to me and how to prevent it from happening again, God showed me that in my zeal, I was living beyond my capacity. I started praying, “God, I don’t want to do anything less than your will for me, but I also don’t want to do anything more than your will for me.”

I think a tension we all live in is between do-nothing passivity and do-too-much ambition. If we let our passion and drive trump wisdom, we can end up not only doing the wrong things, but doing too much of the right things.

I felt like God said to me, “Brad, you’re trying to be overproductive. You’re taking on burdens you’re not supposed to carry. You’re trying to make things happen that I didn’t design you to make happen.”

God let me know he designed me in a certain way. I started laying things at God’s feet and saying, “God, is this something you want me to do? Or is it something that you want me to lay down and ignore?”

God designed you in a certain way. You are meant to do certain things … and to not do other things. We need to seek God to know what we say yes to and where we need to say no. And saying no might be the most important part.


If, like me at 25, you’ve been feeling weary, Moses can relate.

Moses was used by God to change the world. He led about two million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites were headed through the desert towards the promised land, but there were … problems. The Israelites had issues with God … and brought them all to Moses. They also had issues with each other … and brought them all to Moses.

One time, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was visiting, and he saw all this and offered Moses wisdom, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18). So, what should Moses do? Jethro tells him to select capable people who can help carry some of the burden.

That’s one of the lessons I learned when I burned out. I didn’t have a father-in-law named Jethro, but God clearly showed me I had to start bringing in other people to join me in carrying these burdens.

I wonder if that’s true in your life. Do you overestimate your capacity and therefore do alone what God wants you to do in tandem with others?

  • Perhaps you’re an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom. Is there a family member who would be happy to watch your kids once a week if you just asked? Or maybe there’s another mom you could team up with in a way that lightens each of your loads?

  • In your workplace, are you trying to prove yourself by flying solo when it would be wise to delegate some of your work?

We is better than me. One leads to burnout, and the other leads to rest.


Like a car, a person becomes empty when they don’t consistently refuel their tank. I didn’t become empty all at once. Just like on my family’s drive to Albuquerque, I had been ignoring the warning signs. I realized that to move beyond burnout, I had to start monitoring myself and creating regular rhythms of replenishment.

I started asking questions that now serve like the gauges on a car dashboard:

  • How is my spiritual health? Am I spending time in prayer and God’s word, and am I avoiding sin and living for Jesus?

  • How is my physical health? Am I sleeping, eating, and exercising in a way that is refilling my empty tank?

  • How is my mental health? Am I consuming the right kind of media, music, and books to give me hope and purpose?

  • How is my emotional health? Am I stressed, worried about things, or running at a pace I cannot sustain?

These days, I discipline myself to build essential habits into my life, like getting sufficient sleep, spending time with life-giving people, and having significant prayer and Bible reading times with God every day and a Sabbath day of rest every week.

I made sure to have more of God poured into me than I was pouring out for him. If that stays true, I’ll never find myself dangerously empty. My tank will be filled, and I’ll notice when it is not.


You may have the impression that I figured this all out, and it’s now just a problem of my past. No, the truth is I still wrestle with this today. Every day. But what God taught me during that painful season has paid off in such a big way over the years. I’m so thankful I went through what I did because it made me better equipped to handle the temptation to do too much and avoid what matters most.

If you learn to say no, say we, and stay full, you too can beat burnout.


  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “I feel totally healthy and rested” and 10 being “I feel completely overwhelmed and hopeless”), where would you put your current burnout level? Write it down.

  2. What makes it difficult for you to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong ones? What might help?

  3. What rhythms do you have in your life to repeatedly fill your tank? What is one new habit you could start that would help?