Burn out or Selfishness/laziness

Smoke Flame Match Head Burn Matches Sticks MatchSo I have a question for you.  How do you know if it’s burnout? What does it feel like?  What does it look like?  How do you keep from confusing it with selfishness/laziness?

These are the questions I’m asking myself right now.  It’s leading me to not be able to do anything.  It’s somewhat paralyzing and I’m unsure how to cope with it.

Heck, I’m unsure what to even name it!  I find myself at times shutting down from it all, just turning it all off and sitting, which leads me to worry if it’s just me being lazy.

Other times, I am able to step away and forget it all for a bit and do other things that are important to me… clean house, cook, crochet, live life!  Which then leads me to worry that it’s me being selfish with my time and wanting to just do what I want to do.

See, I’m a part-time lay pastor at two small congregations who I truly love. I’m just starting my 4th year with them.  They are mostly elderly.  I am the only staff there, I do the bulletins, choose the hymns and liturgy, I write the sermons, I do all the visitation.  There are many who are sick and many who are caregivers.  We’ve had quite a few deaths since I’ve been there and as leaders pass away, their roles fall into my lap as well.  We use to have a Bible study I led, but we canceled it for the summer because I showed up and no one came…  Did I mention that I drive 30 minutes one way to get there?  We moved it to a Facebook group but there is little to NO participation so I’m considering ending it as well.  The work of posting the discussion questions and such with no participation is a bit discouraging.

There have been safety concerns at one church that had someone breaking in and sort of living there… We never caught them but found the evidence each week.  DH hated me going up there alone and worried about my safety.  The other church had mice in my office.  Every time I went up there, there were droppings and urine all over my desk…  This was all very discouraging as well.  Both went on for months.  I think it is all over now but it was a very stressful time.  Then you add all the illnesses, deaths, and declining attendance because of each and well… yeah, it’s discouraging and overwhelming all at the same time…

Today, after making hospital visits and phone calls to others, I was completely wiped out and felt myself check out and shut down…  I’m not sure how full-time pastors do this.  I guess many if not most have some help… a secretary to do the bulletins, a music director to chose the hymns…  and hopefully a few laity that step up as well to help.

Anyway… how do you know if it’s burnout or just a case of being lazy and selfish?

What does burnout look like?  What does it feel like?  I’m really asking.

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