Are YOU in Burnout? (Pt. 4)



Ever thought about this…  better leaders than You or I have experienced BURNOUT. 

They were/are more gifted, more focused, more knowledge-able, more experienced, and even more self-aware, yet they have experienced BURNOUT. Sobering thought.

What’s to say that you and I won’t also go down that path! What’s to say that you I will be able to withstand the same pressures and challenges they faced, and yet we can experience different results?

FOURTH INSIGHT:  PAY ATTENTION TO ALL OF YOUR LIFE.  (Learn to care for issues related to your SOCIAL BASE).

There are a lot of lists out there to help with preventive actions in regards to BURNOUT. Many of these preventive lists are very helpful. In our coaching we have discovered that what is also needed is a two-fold strategy;  short-term and a long-term initiatives to help counteract the natural progression that can leads to BURNOUT.

The LONG-TERM view can be broken down into four categories of activity. These categories refer to a leader’s “social base,” a term coined by Dr. J. Robert Clinton in his research on what causes leaders to finish well.

Clinton’s offers two key, breakthrough insights regarding social base;  (1) A weak, or ineffective social base, often is the cause to not finishing well, as opposed to issues of giftedness and skill, and (2) Your needs in the area of social base change down through the years. It is vital to reassess, and not keep running on yesterday’s base of support.

Social base refers to the personal support and environments out of which a leader operates.

Social base processing refers to the means God uses to develop the person, to provide for his/her needs, and sustain overall life. The four categories of a leader’s social base are: (1) emotional support; (2) strategic support; (3) spiritual support, and (4) physical support.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT refers to issues of companionship, empathetic understanding, affirmation, validation of worth, recreational outlets, stress vs. balance, being listen to and valued as a person, friends, community.

STRATEGIC SUPPORT refers to issues of clarity of calling and life direction, clarity of values, provision which includes living expenses, medical, educational, basic physical provisions (food, clothing, transportation, housing, etc.), regular times of replenishment and rest.

SPIRITUAL SUPPORT refers to issues of depth and ongoing relationship with God, sense of meaning and purpose, affirmation from God in terms of who we are in His eyes, and who He is in our eyes, personal growth and development, holistic approach to life.

PHYSICAL SUPPORT refers to issues of related to life necessities; exercise, sleep, play, sexual/physical drives. Issues of health and self-care. The care of our home? Do we feel safe? Is our environment conducive for life and growth?

So, how’s your base? What’s weak and what’s strong? If you are married, how does your spouse view your current social base? What has changed in terms of your social base over the last few years? What do you anticipate for the future?

In the early 90s, Bill Hybels introduced leaders to a similar set of categories when he talked about your life gauges. These came as a result of his own burnout experience. It Was helpful for him to validate that BURNOUT could occur even when the Spiritual area of support was high. His burnout traced to issues of emotional depletion.

I (Terry) have been down the BURNOUT path and had to wake-up and pay better attention to issues of my EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL support. It was not enough to just keep emphasizing the STRATEGIC / SPIRITUAL areas. I needed Robin’s (my wife) help in being honest with myself in those discussions.

The simple fact is that all leaders have personal, social needs that must be met if they are going to stay in the game, and finish well.  No leader wakes up in the morning with a conscious plan to BURNOUT. It is the result of ongoing, behavior, over time. But many leaders do BURNOUT. Hopefully, forewarned is forearmed.

Has this SERIES OF BLOGS on BURNOUT been helpful? Let me know your thoughts by giving me your vote, and even a short COMMENT.


© Terry Walling / 2013

Are YOU in Burnout? (Pt. 3)



There are many causes of BURNOUT. Anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for BURNOUT—from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation or a raise in years, to the ambitious entrepreneur hungering for a breakthrough, to the over-caring minister who steps beyond his boundaries, to the frazzled stay-at-home mom struggling with the heavy responsibility of taking care of three kids, and her aging parents.

But, BURNOUT is not caused solely as a result of a stressful job or overwhelming responsibilities.

Another core contributor to BURNOUT is often the lack of clarity and intention related to one’s contribution. When contribution remains unclear, well-meaning people take on too much, find it hard to say “NO,” and become “jack of all trades, but master of none.” Slowly, passion fades, questions of value surface, and they become consumed with the too much, that plays too little, into how God has shaped their lives.


In the early years of our development, the topic is mission and calling. But as the journey continues, things shift from issues of life direction and vision, to issues of role and choices required to live into one’s unique, Kingdom contribution. In the early years it’s about seizing opportunity and saying YES to what God is authoring. As one progresses, it’s about learning to say “NO” to the good in order to say “YES” to the best. It’s about the few things that God has called a Christ-follower to contribute.

In Luke 9:51, things changed for Jesus. His focused shifted from his early foundational ministry to making his unique contribution. Intentional choices needed to be made to in order to take on the role that He, the Father and the Spirit agreed upon, and authored, before time began. Scripture says that with an “iron will” Jesus set his face to go do that which only He could do. Jesus said NO to the many things, in order to say yes to the cross, the one thing he must do. It is the same for us.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.’ — Luke 9:51, NIV            “As the time drew near for his return to heaven, he moved steadily onward toward Jerusalem with an iron will. ”                   —Luke 9:52, The Living Bible

Choices are required to move from calling onto contribution. Contribution is about unique influence and is clarified best in the context of community. But how does one even begin the process of clarifying his/her unique contribution?

Two-Ways: Examine your unique wiring (Three Categories of Passion), and work to better integrate the ways God has gifted you to influence others (Three Influence Elements).

Counteract the potential of BURNOUT by seeking to clarify THREE CATEGORIES OF PASSION; the godly-drivers that God has shaped into your personality and wiring. Clarifying passion helps you to move toward those things God has wired you to do.

Category 1: People – Who are the people, individuals, or groups you most passionate to influence or help? The WHO. Leaders, influencers, the under-helped, kids in need, the almost believer, etc.?

Category 2: Cause – What’s the cause or issue that must be addressed, answered or changed? The WHY.  Communities change, poverty addressed, kids given shoes, influence leaders resources, etc.?

Category 3: Function – What is the core function you could you do all day if we would just let you? The WHAT. What do you love to do? Serve, write, administrate, catalyze, innovate, strategize, etc.

Counteract the potential of BURNOUT by taking your first steps to integrate your THREE INFLUENCE ELEMENTS; the unique ways God has gifted you to influence others.

Influence Element 1: Natural Abilities – What are your innate abilities? What are you good at, naturally, and sometimes conclude that “anyone” can do this, or what you do is “no big deal.”  Ex.: Organizing, speaking, synthesizing, encouraging, etc.

Influence Element 2: Spiritual Gifts – What do you believe, and what have others affirmed, to be the grace-gifts God has given to you. How does he often work through your life? Ex.: Teaching, helping, serving, words of wisdom, knowledge, etc.

Influence Element 3: Acquired Skills – What have you learned along the way? What have you been trained to do? What skills do you use to lead and influence others?  Ex.: Facilitation, administrating, coaching, computers/technology, etc.

POINT:  BURNOUT can be averted through a series choices related to moving toward your unique contribution.

Contribution (role) = Passion + Influence  – Weave together your influence elements with your core passion, into a 1-2 sentence description of what you do.  (Example: I resource and coach breakthrough in the lives of risk-taking Kingdom leaders.)

The more you work to clarify your contribution, the greater the decision-making grif you will have to decide what you to focus on, and what not to be involved in, as you go into the future. The more you orient (when possible) your time, efforts and investments around contribution, the greater the fulfillment and the knowing of God’s intended purposes. If you don’t learn to say NO, you won’t be able to say YES to that which God has created you to do, And that inability is another recipe for BURNOUT.

Next Up: FINAL BLOG IN THIS SERIES: BURNOUT, Pt. 4 – Lifelong Development

© Terry Walling / 2013




The WAY FORWARD is sometimes not about the right answers, but in determining and asking yourself the right questions.

Ask the right questions, and you can discover the right answers. The better the questions, the greater the potential to uncover the answers that have the potential of unlocking the way forward.

The FOUR Questions listed below are the right kind of questions. There are other sets of questions that also helpful, but these four have proved to be gold in our coaching at Leader Breakthru. I have used all four, together, to help leaders better know where they are, and discover answers to help move life and leadership forward.

I first discovered these four, powerful questions through the Life Planning Training I took with Tom Patterson. These are expanded in his book, Living a Life that Counts. I next encountered them through my coach training, and through related coaching training.

God is already at work in each of our lives and development.

Questions promote sovereign discovery. Discovery is about learning to ask one’s self the right questions and investing time seeking to hearing God’s voice among all the voices in your life. Answer’s to the questions below help Christ-followers better discern what can unlock the future, and better understand how God is at work, shaping and forming each of our lives.


Question #1: WHAT’S RIGHT?

What’s occurring that needs to ENHANCED? Often there are many positive, good and quality opportunities that are present but often are overshadowed by the pressing problems or issues.

Question #2: WHAT’S WRONG?

What’s occurring that needs to be CHANGED? Often there are struggles or difficulties that need to be change or addressed. Finally naming what they are, specifically, can sometimes begin the process of breaking through.


What’s needs to be ADDED to what is occurring? Often there are things being overlooked or components of a solution that can make a significant difference. Adding or addressing what is missing can often move the ball down the field, and help to address the obstacles. It may not be many things. It could be a few, very strategic things.


What’s needs to be CLARIFIED in  terms what is occurring, or what is needed to move forward? Often there are a few, critical issues where new information is needed, and greater emphasis in knowing what is actually occurring can unlock the answer. Sometimes this involves get the new eyes on the problem, or experiencing the benefit of a mentor or coach.

THE WAY FORWARD can often be determined as you answer what’s is right, and needs to be built upon, what’s wrong that needs to be changed, what’s missing that needs to be added to the equation, and what’s confused that needs to be answered.