Beating Ministry Fatigue–Part 1

posted in: Boundaries, Energy | 1

           In ministry, three budgets are crucial.  Two are familiar.  The third most of us rarely, if ever, think about.

We know about managing money. A good church budget fully funds our top ministry priorities, exercises good stewardship, and empowers ministry teams to do their ministries free of micromanagement.

We also know about managing time. What are the “big rocks” that produce the greatest return on time invested?  What activities need to be delegated, streamlined, or eliminated?  Where do I want to spend more time?  Less time?  Am I keeping my work hours within healthy boundaries?  Am I prioritizing time for family?  For care of my own soul?

Whether we do it well or not so well, we get the concept of managing time and money.  But most ministry leaders are largely unaware of a third area of budgeting, and our lack of awareness often bites us. It is the area of managing our energy.

When we consistently spend more money than we bring in, there are harsh consequences. Eventually we can’t pay for the things that matter most.

When we overcommit our time, important things get done late or not at all.  There is little margin for emergencies. We are often frazzled and fatigued.

What happens when we overcommit our energy? In more than 20 years of consulting with churches, I have seen that most ministry leaders are operating out of an emotional energy deficit. They are giving more than they are receiving.  They are doing ministry most of the time out of a cup that is less than half full. God’s best for us, though, is that we normally minister out of overflow, out of a cup that is running over (Psalm 23).

I have come to believe that managing our emotional energy—running a surplus in our emotional energy budget—is just as crucial to effective ministry as managing our time and money well.

Of course, there are times when temporary deficit spending is called for.  That is true for money, time, and energy.  But to thrive in your ministry long-term, a good rule of thumb is to spend at least 80% of your time in activities that give you energy and no more than 20% in those that drain your energy. Anything less than that is deficit spending and will in time lead to burnout.



  • What activities tend to drain my energy?
  • Which ones usually give me energy?
  • How can I increase the time I spend on energizing activities and decrease the time I spend on energy draining activities?
  • What would it take for me to consistently spend at least 80% of my time doing things that energize me?

            Next week we’ll look at a second key to increasing emotional energy.

Encourage another leader. Pass it on!
Follow Eddy Hall:

Author. Pastor. Consultant. Coach.

My lifelong passion has been to help the church become healthier. I have lived this out through youth work, urban ministry, denominational staff work, and pastoring; through writing, editing, and publishing; through consulting with churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. During this season, I am living out my call to help churches become healthier by focusing on helping church leaders become healthier and more fruitful, through writing, coaching, and leading retreats and training events.

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[…] tips on how to reduce energy drainers and increase energy boosters, check out these earlier posts (here) and […]