In my mind, the first recorded case of ministerial burnout is the story of Elijah falling asleep under the broom tree, as told in 1 Kings 19:3–9. In this story, the prophet Elijah concluded that, despite all the powerful works God had accomplished through him, he (Elijah) was a failure whose only reward was a bounty on his head and a life as an outcast, on the run from his enemies. Elijah decided that he wanted to go to sleep under a broom tree and never wake up again.
Make no mistake: Elijah wasn’t just looking to take a nap. He was, in fact, in deep despair and no longer wished to live. Thankfully, God sent an angel to rouse Elijah and to nourish him with bread and water so that he might renew his commitment to serve the Lord.
Catechists are not immune to ministerial burnout. It is not uncommon for catechists to lose their sense of energy and enthusiasm for their ministry. At times like these, it feels as if the well has run dry. This is why the first of three key aspects of catechist formation (Being, Knowing, and Doing) focuses solely on the spiritual wellness of the catechist. The focus on Being is critical for catechists, lest we find ourselves simply going through the motions and “phoning it in” because of our lack of spiritual energy.
My most recent book, 8 Steps to Energizing Your Faith, is a perfect antidote against ministerial burnout and is most suitable for catechist formation focused on Being. I highly recommend that groups of catechists join together in reading and discussing the book, since research shows that engagement with others is key to avoiding burnout and sustaining energy over the long haul.
In a previous post, I identified where my books from The Toolbox Series fall into the three categories of Being, Knowing, and Doing. While 8 Steps to Energizing Your Faith is not a part of The Toolbox Series, it is a not-too-distant “relative,” which, along with Toolbox title, The Catechist’s Backpack, will enable catechists to pay attention to their own spirituality and the unique spirituality of the catechist. In doing so, catechists can avoid ministerial burnout!