Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming The Burnout Epidemic

If you read a book on burn out, and realize that a lot of what you're reading seems very familiar, you pay attention.

Anne Jackson grew up as a pastor's kid in traditional church settings.  She's seen what church life can be like from a kid's perspective, and she's experienced her own personal challenges.  In Mad Church Disease, Anne writes very honestly about the risk factors, both external and internal.  She's frank about our tendency as humans - and particularly as church leaders - to lead extremely unhealthy lives.  And she's precise without being preachy about what it takes to get better.  She writes honestly about her own struggles and the unhealthy ways she chose to cope.

This book, along with John Burke's No Perfect People Allowed, really struck a chord with me. I'm still processing a lot of what I've read on a personal level; bits and pieces about manipulative tendencies, living out of false assumptions, codependency, confusion about my value outside of my work.  My belief that I have to work seven days a week in order for the world to keep spinning.  Lots of junk, just like the rest of us.

But then I read this:
"We cannot be dependent on ourselves and on God at the same time.  When we consider the practice of rest unnecessary, we will also inevitably lose sight of the necessity of God."  Anne Jackson
And I'm learning.

One of the greatest benefits of this week was the chance to walk for two hours today, down to the end of the island and back.  All along the way, I thought and processed and reflected on where I've been.  And where I'm headed.  I've read four books this week, and spent time reading the Bible, and thought and planned and contemplated.

I've thought about my personal life.  I've thought about my work life.  I've thought about my passion for the local church.

I can't say for sure what lies ahead.  None of us can. 

But I am certain that my path is covered, above, below and all around, by grace.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Undeserved, unearned, a gift from God.  A privilege and an honor.

By the way, I'd recommend that anybody who serves a church in any capacity read this book. Anybody.  It's worth it, for the sake of that to which we are called.

Anne quotes Oswald Chambers in one of the most powerful parts of the book:
"If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on him, and he will make use of you every minute you live- yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, that you are being used of him." Oswald Chambers
Boy, I love that.

You can learn more from Anne Jackson and the work to which God has called her on her blog.

1 comment:

Anne Jackson said...

An amazing and insightful post! :) I'm so glad God is showing you so many things and agree - your path is covered!