I was laid up in bed sick this week. The bad part of that scenario should be obvious, but the good part was that it gave me a chance to read through Christoper Ash’s new book “Zeal Without Burnout: Seven keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice”. I had the privilege of hearing Christopher Ash speak at a youth workers conference in Wales a few years back and his gracious humility and biblical wisdom struck me at the time. I was happy to have the chance to work through this helpful little book and to share my thoughts with you about it.
The book is short – just over 120 pages – and I was able to read the whole book in about an hour and a half. It is sprinkled with stories from various Christians who have wrestled with the specter and symptoms of burnout. The heart of the book are the “Seven Keys” which are made of up four “needs” (we need sleep, we need Sabbath rest, we need friends, and we need inward renewal) followed by a warning, an encouragement, and a delight. The book is simple and much that is shared is simply Biblical common-sense. But it is the very common-sense approach that Ash takes which makes this book profoundly helpful. At its most basic level, Ash’s book can be boiled down to what he calls, “A Neglected Truth”: we are mortal creatures. As Ash puts it, “The foundation of all I have to say is that you and I are dust. We need to know that and never to forget it. You and I are embodied creatures; we are dust” (pg. 35). From this truth flows the recognition that we need rest, sleep, friends and renewal. What drives ministerial burnout is the faulty belief that we are somehow indispensable. We proudly assume that God needs our sacrifice, our gifts, or our personalities to build His kingdom. Ash graciously shatters that thinking. I found myself humbled and encouraged by this book. It stands as a needed warning against my own pride and offers a helpful balance so that I can faithfully sacrifice without foolishly rushing into burnout. This is a book to read and to share; enjoy and be blessed!
I would like to thank the good folks over at Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.