Friday, January 10, 2014
BURNOUT - As the Mentor Burns
When you pour your whole heart, mind and strength into somebody, you will get burned out. Compassion can leak out of your boots if you are not careful. Burnout happens to everybody. People who pour their lives into children are likely to soak up the pain of those children and become highly susceptible to burnout. Can you avoid burnout? Can you remove burnout?
Avoiding burnout is like trying to skip winter. Burnout is one of the seasons of life. As a mentor, you are the sunrise in a young persons life. You rise early and shine brilliantly as you push high into the heavens until you peak around noon and then you begin to fall until you fade into a sunset. I won't belabor you with more metaphors of seasonal change. You need to know that burnout is inevitable for someone whose heart is lit by a fire of compassion. The first step in dealing with burnout is the recognition that it will happen.
Identifying burnout can be a challenge. Most of us work very hard on a daily basis. We are tired at the end of a day. Normal fatigue is not burnout, a good nights rest and some downtime will help rejuvenate your mind and body for another day. Can you recognize the beginning of burnout? Most folks don't have a clue they are burned out until they are reeling in mental exhaustion. Everyone needs an honest accountability partner. People who will be quick to step in and tell you that you need to rest. Schools should have accountability teams who help each other recognize the symptoms of burnout amongst their members. Hopefully a husband or wife would help each other through particularly difficult seasons. Choose friends (yes you need friends,) and make them aware of the fact that you need them to be brutally honest in your relationship and hold you accountable in your personal habits.
Dealing with burnout might sound hard but you have to deal with it or it might destroy you or worse, it might cause you to destroy the spirit of a hurting child. Please admit that you need time off. Take a walk, take a vacation, take a leave of absence or take another job. All of those actions are perfectly acceptable. If you find that you cannot keep up with the emotional demands of being a mentor or teacher, that's okay - move on before you burn out of control. For everything there is a season. You cannot stay in a sunrise and you don't want to stay in a sunset.
Thanks for your time.
Go do something nice for somebody.