Do you drag yourself to work and find it hard to get motivated? Do you experience frequent headaches and/or nausea as you anticipate going to work? Do you find it difficult to find satisfaction in your achievements? Have your sleep habits or appetite changed? Do you experience unexplained head, neck, or back pain? Do you find yourself being more sarcastic, cynical, critical, impatient, or more irritable with coworkers and even with family? Are you self-medicating using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to just not feel at all? Do you feel you face insurmountable barriers at work? Do you find yourself completely overwhelmed and nearly unable to function? Answering “yes” to any of these questions might be an indication you are “burnt out” in your job. Job burnout is the cumulative stress by long-term exposure to demanding work environments. It is manifested in physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.
Genesis 3:19 “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…”
Exodus 23:12 “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest:…” Ecclesiastes 5:12 “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much:…”
1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
The above verses teach the biblical concept of working for a living and providing for our families. However, we also find some suggested parameters for doing so. God ordained six days as enough time in a week to provide for our families and also emphasize adequate rest. People who have a difficult time sorting out their work and personal life or who too strongly identify with their job and no other aspect of life are at risk of becoming a slave to their job. These characteristics can lead to job burnout.
Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”
Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey…”
Another risk factor for job burnout is when we try to do everything and be everything for everybody all the time.
We simply cannot be in two places at once nor can we be more than we are. Attempting to do so is to give the indication the world cannot function without us. God has given each of us talents and gifts to use in His service, but no one has all gifts or all talents. It is often difficult to cut back on our activities as we may feel our presence at a particular function will be sorely missed. In reality, we may be afraid everything will be just fine without us, and we won’t be so missed. We are exhorted in Scripture not to think more highly of our contribution to others’ lives than we should.
Galatians 6:3 “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Not feeling in control over your work or work environment can be a risk factor for job burnout and yet often there is little we can do to change it.
There may be some opportunities to choose a different work shift or work with different people in a different role but most likely we will have to deal with the work environment as it is if we want to continue in our current job and/or position. Sometimes our workplace struggles are of our own choosing because of desired and increased upward mobility opportunities. While added responsibilities and increased mobility are usually financially compensated, often the added workload produces greater stress and risk for job burnout. We can also be our own negative contributors to workplace woes by having a complaining attitude towards others. The Bible instructs us to be both content with our wages and not to strive too hard for greater position, more authority, or higher salary. Scripture also teaches us to be kind to others regardless of whether that kindness is repaid. This holds true whether we work with other believers or not.
Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…”
Luke 3:14 “…and be content with your wages.”
Proverbs 23:4 “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”
Ecclesiastes 6:7 “All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.”
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”
Romans 12:10-11 “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;”
Trying to establish and maintain a proper balance between work and our personal lives can be difficult but is a positive step toward decreasing the likelihood of experiencing job burnout. Looking for a different shift or specific role or even another job are all avenues to prayerfully consider. While finding a different career is not easy in today’s job world, it may be necessary if career stress and job burnout reach a critical point. Critical points of job stress may include depression, sickness, and other limiting physical problems. Remembering our first obligation is to serve God and to also keep our ambitions in check may help us avoid the crippling effects of job burnout.
Ecclesiastes 2:19-24 “For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night.This is also vanity.There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”
Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”