Helping College Students Grow Their Faith.

6 self-care tips to avoid ministry burnout

Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
Written By Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
On Apr, 5 2021
3 minute read

Campus ministers wear SO. MANY. HATS. You’re a bookkeeper, a bible study leader, a cook, a janitor, a counselor, a teacher, a music minister, a grounds keeper, a catechist, a graphic designer, a retreat planner (one campus minister shared with me that she mows the lawn and trims the hedges at her Newman center so add landscaper to that list as well!), and so much more as you walk with students on their journey to Heaven.

Ministry is so rewarding in the meaningful relationships, the beautiful path of discipleship, and the real joy of working with young adults! However, without solid self-care the demands of the many hats you wear can become overwhelming and lead to emotional exhaustion and chronic stress.

As a ministry leader it’s important to be intentional about self-care and take steps to avoid burnout. Here are 6 solid self-care tips to help:


  1. Set limits. Give yourself permission to set limits on your time, student needs, and ministry commitments. Create a schedule for yourself where you clearly identify ministry time and down time.
  2. Hobbies. It’s important to engage in FUN activities that are not related to your ministry! What do you love to do? Hiking, painting, baking, crafting, reading – whatever it is, make space for these activities throughout each week!
  3. Healthy boundaries. When you genuinely care for your students and want to help them with all the things in life, boundaries are challenging. However, perhaps the most important thing you can do to prevent burnout is to create healthy boundaries. This also empowers your students to develop healthy coping strategies and the autonomy they will need for successful adulting.
  4. Take time off. Use your personal and sick days! A self-care day away from ministry to do things you enjoy, see friends and family or just REST can go a long way to restoring energy and motivation to your role.
  5. Have a sense of humor. Did you know that laughing literally releases a cocktail of happy brain chemicals and boosts your immune system? I hope you will let yourself have lots of big belly laughter and encourage your students to not take life too seriously as well!
  6. Talk to someone. Your pastor, spiritual director, your best friend, your therapist – make sure you are confiding in someone you trust with the stressors of your ministry and all that’s on your mind and heart.

Self-care isn't a one-size-fits-all formula. What works for some may not be as effective for you. It's important to discover meaningful and sustainable ways to recharge and enhance your well-being. Self-care activities should be initiated daily without too much thought or dependency on others. 

On it's own self-care can help you to be more aware of the stressors in your life and work so you can better serve your students and others. Setting healthy boundaries in relationships is also an important part of avoiding burnout. These boundaries apply to all our relationships, but especially in helping professions we need to be clear about our expectations and needs. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries shows you care about yourself and the relationship, and emotional and physical safety for everyone. 

It can be challenging creating a self-care routine and setting healthy boundaries. Sometimes fear, guilt, and people pleasing can get in the way of our success in these areas. However, if we aren't intentional in caring for ourselves, ministry burnout is a real threat.

Campus ministers are essential in this mission of keeping students connected to their faith in college! Gain more tips likes these with Newman Coaching specifically for support in setting boundaries and establishing a healthy self-care routine.

Recommended Articles:

Submit a Comment