By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Recently I read an interesting article about burnout. It made the point that while people usually think that it’s caused by unreasonable work demands, that’s not the case. According to Christina Maslach, the culprit is usually poor relationships in the workplace.
Maslach should know whereof she speaks. She is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of the 22-question Maslach Burnout Inventory (“MBI”), called the “gold standard job burnout assessment."
The MBI surveys three areas: exhaustion, depersonalization and professional efficacy.
Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners and author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work, says the relationship issue comes down to “a lack of connection.”
He suggests three ways to combat burnout:
- Connect yourself -- Schedule time for self-care. If you aren’t proactive about this, you are susceptible to falling into any of 11 kinds of addiction.
- Connect with others outside of work – He says “people are hardwired for connection” and “we dysfunction when our need for connection goes unmet.” Stallard makes it a point to spend time with his wife and to attend a men’s Bible study on Saturday mornings.
- Connect with colleagues and customers – Stallard says there are three kinds of workplace cultures: those that control people, those that are indifferent to people, and those that connect people. “It’s connection cultures that help people thrive, individually and collectively,” he says. If you don’t find one, you have to try to build one.
A fourth proposal
I’d like to offer a fourth suggestion: Connect with the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and pray to all three persons in God.
- Thank the Father for all creation, including especially yourself and all of your loved ones. Reflect on what a gift life is and on all the other gifts you have been given, beginning with those who love you and who you love. Think back to how others have brought God’s graces to you – and express your gratitude for everything.
- Ask Jesus, the son, for ongoing guidance, support and forgiveness as you try to do your best to contribute to the common good, beginning with those closest to you – but not ending there.
- Ask the Spirit to help you discern God’s will for you in all the choices and other circumstances that come your way -- to provide you with the energy, patience and insight you need to be all that God wishes for you to be in working out his plan of sanctification and salvation for the world.
Yes, a full and purposeful life is all about connection – to God and to others, wherever we may find them.