I remember vividly the day I realized I was headed for burnout. I was 25 and working in my first job as both a youth minister at a local church and a college minister on the campus of the University of Missouri. It was early January, and I had just finished working on my calendar for the new semester – I used Outlook so I could see when all the various bible studies and lock-ins and retreats and everything. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for scheduling out the whole semester until I looked back over the next five months and I realized I only had three days off.
From January to May. Three days where I had nothing work-related – not a meeting or a study or a gathering or an event. Three days.
I realized I either had to back out of some of my commitments, or buckle down and get through it. I chose to buckle down, and that semester was not pretty. By March, people observed, “You look tired,” several times a day. By April, I was grumpy all the time. By May, pretty much no one was talking to me unless they had to. The reserve tanks of my reserve tanks of my emotional energy were drained dry. I had nothing left to give anyone.
You know that feeling – that you just need a break but a break isn’t coming.
That life is an endless series of relationships and obligations that, no matter how good they might be, leave you feeling drained, empty.
We are bad at boundaries. We don’t care for ourselves, we don’t ensure that we maintain enough gas in our tanks to be the persons we were created to be. And this is wrong. Clear boundaries are healthy and holy. They’re good for us. God intends us to create and maintain healthy boundaries for ourselves.