Book Review: Mad Church Disease

I have been wanting to read Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic forever!  I’ve been so busy lately that I kept putting it off.  When you read the book, you’ll realize how hilarious and telling that statement is.  I saw on Anne Jackson‘s twitter feed the other day that Amazon was offering her book for free on Kindle and I knew that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

I served on staff at three different churches before I moved into Christian education.  This book had me all over the place with different emotions related to those experiences.  I wish I had read this book about 6 years ago.  It would have really helped me have a healthier perspective on the role that God has called me to.  It was sobering to hear the stories of different church leaders who have been abused far beyond what would ever be acceptable in the secular world.

This book was a pretty quick read.  Anne has a great sense of humor and it really comes through in these pages.  Before you get too far into the book, you feel like you are sitting in Starbucks talking with an old friend.  Below I am pasting some of the passages I highlighted on my Kindle.

  • Burnout is a disease nobody talks about until it’s too late. Statistics and stories prove that the health of those serving in ministry is declining—spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally.
  • Since I had allowed spending time with God to be replaced by spending time doing things for God, my spiritual tank had been sucked dry.
  • The fear of letting people down, especially in spiritual matters, can often cause us to feel obligated or pressured into meeting unrealistic expectations, or worse, spending more time doing things for God instead of being what God wants us to be. That can lead to serious stress.
  • When we’re sick, how can we show a dying world health? When we’re hopeless, how can we show hope?
  • And if Satan can put things in your path to trip you up and take others down with you, I’m sure there’s no better way he’d rather spend his time. He’s going to ask himself how he can kill as many birds with one stone as possible. When the death and destruction of Christ-followers is the main goal, the enemy is going to think strategically.
  • To engage in a cycle of working incredibly hard and then resting up is to rejuvenate only partially. There must also be consideration given to what you’re reading, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and what recreational activities you’re pursuing that will genuinely refill your tanks.
  • If the leader is exhausted, then the people following that leader will feel exhausted. If the leader is wearing thin on hope, then people start losing hope too. If the leader gets pessimistic, everybody gets pessimistic. You see where this is going.
  • With the knowledge of your weaknesses comes the responsibility to protect these areas with the greatest amount of armor possible.
  • By taking our focus off the dysfunctions of our past, and changing it to how God can work through us as he uses our life journey—our history, our present, and our future—we are less likely to burn out. Any time we become less and God becomes more, it’s his power being perfected in us.
  • Are we walking in such a way that each and every step is guided by the Spirit, or are we finding things to do and asking God only to bless our efforts?
  • One of the problems I see plaguing unhealthy environments is ego. Ego can show itself as loud and abrasive, or as subtle and deceiving. Either way, it’s the antithesis of the character of Christ.
  • The first step in overcoming burnout is to own up to the decisions that have led you here.
  • And when you commit those plans to God, if they’re in line with his will, they’ll succeed. It’s a promise.
  • When we create boundaries, we aren’t saying to the world, “I can’t help you.” Instead, we’re saying, “I must focus intentionally on the specific things God has placed right now in my direct influence.” By saying no to people and to things that are not contained within God’s distinct vision for our lives, we’re actually saying yes to his sovereignty. He knows the best way for his will to be accomplished. For us to assume we can handle more is rebellious and counterproductive.
  • As leaders, we are charged with the care of those God has entrusted to us. Without a high spiritual intake, our spiritual output will be low—if it exists at all. Unfortunately, because many of us are suffering spiritually, our churches and communities are suffering spiritually too.
  • The tension between pursuing our own desires, hopes, and dreams and pursuing what God has for us can cause such confusion and distraction. And this is where Satan loves to get us every time.
  • One of the things that is easy to ignore is the fact that we are designed to rest. After working hard—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally—we need rest! Otherwise, we don’t just become tired; we become weary. And when we’re weary, we have two choices: rely on God to refresh and renew us, or continue to operate in our own strength and burn ourselves out.
  • I believe we are called to be committed to one another as believers in order to experience dynamic faith. Finding authentic relationships and a community that engages in biblical truth is life changing.
  • Trusting others is similar to forgiving others in the sense that it’s a conscious decision, not a feeling. It involves a willful effort.
  • God created all things, and then took a day of rest, knowing he was setting the ultimate example.
  • We believe lies that tell us that our worth is in our productivity. We believe lies that say you can’t trust anybody with your problems. We are so tempted by the glitz and glamour of sacrifice and doing things for Christ that we ignore the work Christ has already done in us. We allow false humility and large egos to drive us into eighty-hour weeks and an unholy commitment to self-reliance. And when we are relying on ourselves, we aren’t relying on God.
What steps are you taking to make sure that you don’t burnout in this excellent adventure that God has called you to?  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Mad Church Disease for yourself today!
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