Zeal without Burnout. Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice
Christopher Ash. The Good Book Company 2016, 123pp.
I’ve read this book twice, given a copy to a friend, and plan to read it in with brothers in pastoral ministry. It’s a timely book. There’s a growing admission in evangelical ministry circles that it is not wise or godly to work to excess. Christopher Ash speaks to the factors which lead to overwork and breakdown, and suggests attitudes and habits which will help us to keep going in fruitful discipleship and ministry. In doing this he brings much-needed help to Gospel servants.
We’re in wise hands. Christopher has studied the topic deeply, and felt the burn of working to excess himself. The book is accessibly written and brief (you could read it slowly in a couple of hours), but full of ideas and observations which deserve reflecting upon. There are a handful of real-life stories contributed from others which show the devastation of burnout, as well as the slow road to recovery. The book’s strength is in helping us diagnose symptoms of possible burnout in our own lives, and in giving us strategies to put into place now.
The seven “keys” are all really well-chosen, and they’re the disciplines which we all know, but when busyness bites, they’re the ones we quickly forget or jettison. My own feeling is that more could be said on ways to read the Bible and pray meaningfully even when, as Christopher says, exhaustion and stress can make that very hard. Also, there’s a noticeable absence of the local church in a positive way. Is that because we so often see the church as “the problem” when burnout comes near? I suspect so; but I think there’s more to explore about the church and its potential ministry to struggling servants.
These are minor points, and it’s a pleasure to recommend the book highly, whatever stage of ministry you’re in.