Zeal without Burnout [HC]

(1 customer review)


By: Ash, Christopher


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ISBN: 9781784980214

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Thousands of people leave Christian ministry every month.  They have not lost their love for Christ, or their desire to serve him.  But for one reason or another, they are exhausted and simply cannot carry on.

Christopher Ash knows this experience all too well.  As a pastor of a growing church, and then in his role training people for ministry, he had found himself of the edge of burnout a number of times, and has pastored many younger ministers who have reached the end of their tether.

Christopher’s wisdom has been distilled into their short accessible book, in which he reveals a neglected biblical truth and seven keys that flow form it.  Understood properly, and build into our lives as Christians who are zealous to serve the Lord, they serve to protect us from burnout, and keep us working for God’s kingdom and glory.




1 review for Zeal without Burnout [HC]

  1. CBD

    In this easy-to-read, little book, Ash gives a lot of helpful advice on how to avoid overworking oneself and heading towards—whether one is in full-time Christian ministry or working in a secular job and serving in one’s church part-time.
    A lot of this book is made up of stories of people who have experienced burnouts or near-burnouts, including Ash’s own personal story which influenced much of this book. I think these stories highlight how crucial it is for any passionate Christian in ministry, whether full-time or not, to be reading this book early on to avoid falling into the trap of overworking themselves.
    The foundation of this book is that “God is God and we are dust” (p. 36), reminding us that we need things that God does not, and God does not expect us to do what only He can do. Our service for Him is a privilege of being in His family, not a requirement, nor does God need us to work hard for Him. Ash unpacks this point looking at four implications of that truth (p. 41):
    1. We need sleep, but God does not
    2. We need Sabbaths, but God does not 3. We need friends, but God does not
    4. We need food, but God does not
    Ash finishes the book with three challenges to our motivation for doing Christian ministry: 1. A Warning: beware celebrity
    2. An Encouragement: it’s worth it
    3. A Delight: rejoice in grace, not gifts

    What I liked
    1. The first chapter of this book is a reminder that we are called to self-sacrifice, however, there is a distinction between that and burning out. Ash uses the firefighter analogy (p. 25) to make the point that a burnout actually causes us to be less effective at Kingdom ministry in the look run and makes us a greater burden on others around us serving in Gospel work as well. Our self-sacrifice needs to be sustainable to be of long term benefit (p. 26). This is really what he is trying to push throughout the book. In his last chapter of the book, he mentions two pastors who have elders who do not understand this danger and he applauds one of them who makes the tough decision to leave his church because of their attitude towards it (p. 111). It is crucial that both pastors and church leaders understand this crucial distinction.
    2. Two statements come up a few times in this book, “God is God and we are dust”, and, “if we neglect this, we are implicitly claiming an affinity with God that mortals should never claim”. Both these statements drive home the fact that God does not need our work to grow His Kingdom, and for us to think otherwise is not just naïve and foolish, but prideful and a form of self-worshiping idolatry (p. 78). Our rest acknowledges that growing God’s Kingdom is His job, and unlike us, He never rests (p. 49).
    3. The last key in this book, finding our delight not in the gifts we have and use but in the grace that has been shown to us, is what counters the sinful attitude mentioned in the point above. “When our joy comes from our gifts and our success we will always be under pressure” (p. 105). However, when our joy comes from glorying in the grace of God, we recognize that “it is a privilege to be used in ministry; but it is a much greater privilege to be recipients of grace” (p. 106). Rejoicing in grace is the remedy for pride when our ministries are ‘successful’, and also the remedy for despair when our ministries seem to not be going anywhere.

    What I didn’t like
    There is really not much in this book not to like. It’s short, but Ash has filled it with good, godly advice. He has not wasted his words making his point. However, I could say that maybe, in some places, it was just a bit too short. He could have unpacked some of his points a bit more. The only other comment would be that I don’t think his chapter o inward renewal was the clearest, not like the three prior keys that he looks at.

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