In my short time as a pastor, which stands currently at one year and a half, there is a temptation I have noticed in ministry. There are so many tasks to accomplish and there are people needing shepherding and oversight. Without biblical wisdom, trying to adjust all these things can lead to burnout. So, what is a pastor to do? How can any Christian serving the Lord heed the warning of burnout and find encouragement in the Lord? Christopher Ash directs us to the answer in his new book Zeal without Burnout. It is a concise and to-the-point work that calls for Christians and pastors to think about the long haul of sustaining service. Ash himself says this about the book, “a very personal book…and I trust it is a biblical book” (14).
The introduction sets the tone for the book, sharing stories from those in ministry, whether pastoral or general, and the author shares his own story. Throughout the rest of the book, a number of chapters feature a particular person’s story, putting meat to the bones of each subject of instruction. Before delivering on the subtitle and listing the seven keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable service, Christopher Ash makes a necessary and crucial distinction that sacrifice is not the same as burnout. I think this point is vital because I believe there are Christians who misunderstand this for their own lives and for the lives of others who they may judge. The Christian must understand: “There is a difference between godly sacrifice and needless burnout” (24).
Zeal without Burnout brings home the humbling truth that we are creatures of dust (35). In the next four chapters that follow, we are told we need sleep, we need Sabbath rests, we need friends, and we need inward renewal while God does not need any of these things from us. The book reminds us we are not God and what our role is in ministry. The simple truth, God is God and we are not, permeates the middle section of the book. Ash finishes off the book with a warning, an encouragement, and a delight.
For the pastor who does not think he needs this book, it is for you. For the one serving in ministry who thinks they can wear themselves out without considering biblical wisdom, you need to pick up a copy. Zeal without Burnout is a humbling and helpful book for all pastors and all Christians in ministry who are concerned for the health of the church and for the health of their ministries, because if the leader is not healthy, the church will follow lead.
I received this book for free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.