New Life: This Side of Burnout

Dec 22, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

I posted This Side of Burnout on my counseling site and wanted to share it here as the 4th post and end to a series on burnout. I don’t usually post the same content on both sites, but wanted to share it widely to give hope to others who may feel burned out or feel close to it.  Here it is:

New Life: this side of burnout

It’s been a long time.  Maybe 10 years.  I actually worked 9 hours yesterday and still met each person with enthusiasm, energy and anticipation of our time together. I realized after my nine clients hours that I still had energy to cook dinner and spend time lingering in conversation with my husband.

I have been feeling this sense of renewal for a bit now.

This morning I deemed this season in life “this side of burnout”.  The time where it fades into the horizon with the sunset.  Still the anticipation of it’s return with the new day hovered.  Instead, grace brought a beautiful sunrise sprinkled with energy and hope; hope that the lethargy and apathy of burnout are gone forever. And a new life dawns.

It isn’t black and white though.

Burnout isn’t something that just hits you.  It’s an invasive enemy.  It seduces and lures you in.  You’re devoted to your career, working hard and doing it all.  You feel accomplished and needed.  But, over time you wonder why you’re the only one still at the office.  You begin to realize that all the emergencies make their way to you.  The flattery falls flat as each compliment ends with the sting of a last minute assignment dropped in your lap.

But the American way tells you that you’re doing it all.  I was working hard, making money, achieving corporate objectives.  My family was in tact.  They didn’t need me much.

Until one day they did.

And then I could no longer juggle the 60+ hours a week, the 24/7 on call status, and take care of a health crisis in my family.  Add to that the fact I didn’t have faith nor take care of my health.

Next stop….full-fledged burnout.  It snuck up on me.  I didn’t realize I had depleted all of my emotional, spiritual and physical reserves.  I started craving a way out.  An escape.

Jesus Was My Lifeline In My Burnout

My lifeline turned out to be finding Jesus.

But He didn’t absolve me of my burnout.  It was a consequence of my decisions, and besides, He knew I needed the rest and  priority change.  It took me a full decade of focus on Him.  It wasn’t something I could just check off a list.

  • Found Jesus. Check.
  • Profound Healing. Check.
  • Back to work!  Check.

No…it doesn’t work like that.  I am a licensed therapist now, but this isn’t a clinical explanation of burnout.  It’s just a testimony.

A New Life After Burnout

Life doesn’t go on hold in recovery.  Much has happened in the last 10 years.  A check list couldn’t do it justice.  It wasn’t an action plan to heal.  It was a journey to grow.  It was finding God’s will for my life.  It was letting go of control and trusting that God is the one in control.

  • I had to let go of my timelines.
  • I began to see myself through a God lens.
  • I focused on relationships instead of accomplishments.

And even recently,I continue to learn that a new life, eternal life, is not about a claim to Christianity…

….it isn’t about works,

….a church building,

….a marketing plan, or

….raising great kids.

It’s being on the path that God has for me, and doing my part for once, to keep my priorities on my health, my relationships, and sincerely trying to honor God.

Burnout was insidious in it’s pursuit to claim me.  Unraveling from it’s tentacles to continue on the new path that God paved is difficult.

But one day….

…. the sun set,

…. taking the wake of burnout with it,

…..and leaving it in yesterday.

A new day dawns….a new season begins….and soon we can embrace a new life “this side of burnout”.


This is the fourth and last post in a series on burnout.  I think it is a really important issue with Christian small business owners.  I hope you will also check out the rest of the series:

Warning: Burnout Ahead

Burnout: 4 Steps to Prevention

Burnout:  A Personal Journey to Recovery

New Life:  This Side of Burnout

Hopefully, you can start here, and catch burn-out before it begins!

Reader Interactions


  1. David Rupert says

    Oh, this is just rich. I love that you point out that Burnout isn’t an event. It’s a slow, flesh and mind-eating disease. For a long time I ignored the pain, the itch, the emptiness, until i realized I was afflicted.

    Your solutions are spot on, but love the second one. “I began to see myself through a God lens”

  2. Chris Patton says

    Awesome post, Sue! I somehow missed this one. I am glad I found it at The High Calling!

    I have lived this very disease and you have nailed it. The funny things is that we can slip right back into its tentacles when striving for God. I guess it is certain personalities that are more susceptible to it…not sure.

    Either way, thanks for the insights!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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