Skip to main content

How I Learned to Beat Burnout

Today I’m flying to the Dominican Republic, a place where I’ve experienced abundant life as a young man pursuing a dream, and also burnout along the way. Let me share the story. Karen and I arrived in the capital of Santo Domingo in 1981, having flown there from Indonesia. We were new to th…
By Seth Barnes

Today I’m flying to the Dominican Republic, a place where I’ve experienced abundant life as a young man pursuing a dream, and also burnout along the way. Let me share the story.

Karen and I arrived in the capital of Santo Domingo in 1981, having flown there from Indonesia. We were new to the country, had had no orientation, no formal language training and no one to help us find a place to live.  

My job was to work with a group of national believers to establish a microcredit company. When conflict arose between the group of Dominicans I was there to assist, the home office felt I was too young to try and resolve it. 

I was left hung out to dry.  They basically said, “suck it up – it’s going to get better.”

So, for the better part of a year, I couldn’t do anything. Over time I felt hurt and wrestled with confusion and bitterness. The situation didn’t improve – I was dealing with a group of unethical people. And when I pointed this out, I was told to ride out the storm. 

Every day I’d wake up discouraged and wondering what to do. Burnout.

Perhaps you can identify with my experience. A lot of people are in a bad place right now. We are entering the third year of Covid. We’re tired. A lot of businesses, churches and nonprofits are struggling. The Great Resignation is underway – hundreds of thousands are burned out and leaving their jobs.

Perhaps you have felt a lack of support or been victimized by politics.  Stuff happens and when it does, people get hurt, and after the hurt begins to grow numb, it can be replaced by a creeping bitterness and even an anger.  We feel victimized and we don’t know how to cope. 

Eventually I realized that I had a choice. I needed trust from my boss and could ask for it. And if I didn’t get it, there were other options elsewhere. Seeing that I had a choice pulled me out of my slump and gave me agency.

It’s happened multiple times in my life. I’ve taken it to the Lord. And I’ve heard him say, “Don’t grow weary in doing good.” 

I’ve heard God whisper, “Take your dashed expectations and release them. The expectation that you’d be treated fairly. The expectation that someone would understand how you feel and act differently. The expectation that you wouldn’t get hurt.”

Over time, I learned to identify the source of conflict and press in by talking to those who were the source of my pain by asking them questions. I’ve beaten burnout by having tough conversations and discovering the options that were available to me. By recovering that sense of agency.

It hasn’t been easy, but it’s helped me to make it through this season when so many others have checked out or given up.

Feeling discouraged? Ready to give up? Is there a person you could talk to who has the power to change things for you? Find the courage – have that conversation. Press into the hurt and see if your life doesn’t improve.

Comments (9)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *