Christopher Ash. Zeal Without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice. Purcellville, VA: The Good Book Company, March 1st, 2016. 125 pp.
This is a wonderful little book that ministered to me greatly. The author Christopher Ash in the beginning of the book did a good job establishing the need of why this book is important in tackling the subject of ministry burnout. Ash quoted statistics of how some 1,500 people leave pastoral ministry every month for various reasons including burnout and moral failure; even among those that remained many more admit to feeling burnout within five years of starting ministry (18). This shows how important the book is.
I appreciate the care that the author gave in his treatment of this topic. Ash is quite nuanced and this is something I am glad to see given the sensitivity of the subject and possibility for misunderstanding. Early in the book Ash notes the distinction between sacrifice for the Lord and burnout. There is a big difference between serving the Lord sacrificially and foolish heroism. I love the book’s analogy of the firefighter who ended up being counterproductive when he himself ended up needing to be rescued and thus draining resources for people to rescue him because of his folly rather than it being dedicated to the main mission of fighting fires. Very appropriate illustration. Another great example of the author’s nuance is his discussion about there are times to give it your all, and facing moments that are unpredictable as part of ministry while also acknowledging one’s limitations and need for rest and recovery.
The bulk of the book feature “seven keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice” in which the author tells us that the first four are important truths that are often neglected followed by three questions about motivations (27). Actually when one reads the book the last three were more on motivations rather than questions of motivation in which the author gave a warning about celebrity syndrome, an encouragement and a delight. I don’t want to give the whole book away but these seven points were very helpful and biblically driven. I was quite edified by them.
Besides the main content of the book this work was further enhanced by several helpful testimonies of burnout and what God taught these individuals. I liked how each story was not the same and there were other ministries’ examples besides pastoral ministry. I love how the book concluded with very practical advice and a self-check lists that allows readers to engage in a self-inventory. The ending section of the book includes a short essay by Dr. Midgley on identifying more carefully as to what burnout is.
Again a good work, one that ministers should have in their personal library and read from time to time. Those who are not in full time ministry but serve the Lord will also benefit from this book. This is a great book to give to leaders of the church. I think this book should also be used for doctorate of ministry programs as well since those seasoned in ministry would benefit the most.
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.