Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Avoiding Ministry Burnout

Just in time!  Last week I was trying to encourage and de-stress our readers and Next Step clients.  My friend Tracie has been thinking and writing a lot about the topic of de-stressing, so she’s here to share some of her insights and invaluable resources with us this week.  Take it away, Tracie!   

Several years ago, I found myself immersed in ministry and consumed with stress.

I had made a commitment to God that I would serve Him in whatever way He called, because a few years earlier I had disobeyed His call to be a speaker. I was terrified at the thought of sharing my testimony or standing on stage, even if those acts would glorify God. My fear overwhelmed my faith, and my answer to God’s call, was “No thanks”. “Not now.”  “Maybe never.”

But out of my love for God and feeling ashamed of my lack of trust, I convinced myself that if I served God in lots of other ways, that my service would be sufficient. Unfortunately, that not only prolonged my disobedience to God’s true call on my life, but over time I became over committed, stressed out and burnt out.

You see, I had become a “yes” girl to anyone who asked, because I regretted telling God “no” in the past. I was unknowingly serving in whatever way people called, not whatever way God called.

When someone asked me to sing in the choir, I said yes. When someone asked me to paint three huge wooden props for the Christmas play all by myself, I said yes. When someone asked me to lead a Bible study, I said yes. When someone asked me to help with the children’s nursery, I said yes. When someone asked me to lead the whole Women’s Ministry program, I said yes. You get the picture. 

I was serving God in meaningful ways, but as a result of not obeying what He was really calling me to do, I was serving for all the wrong reasons. Although I enjoyed doing all those things, I was serving to please other people, not Him. I was serving to fill a gap in my heart, not a gap in the needs of my church. And as a result, over time, my overload turned into burnout. My ministry work became a job instead of a joy, and something needed to change. Although God was grooming my heart through these acts of service, I knew I wasn’t fully living in His will.

Since then, I have learned to be aware of the warning signs that my spirit and my body exhibit when I am on the dangerous path towards stress and burnout. I have learned to seek God’s guidance before saying “yes”, and continually building my relationship with Him, in the hopes of avoiding reaching the burn out stage ever again.

And I want to encourage you in your quest to do the same so that God can continue to be glorified through you as you follow His lead.

Recently I was featured over at www.womensministry.net sharing a one minute video about How To Avoid Ministry Burnout. You can also download my free handout from that site titled 10 Keys To Avoiding Ministry Burnout. If you have been struggling with feeling overcommitted in ministry, or just feeling burnt out in your every day responsibilities, I pray these tips might encourage you.

Just as stress comes with the territory of serving God, it is also a normal part of life, but if left ignored, it can begin to control our lives.  My new book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World addresses this problem and helps you become aware of the stress in your life and the toll it might be taking on you physically, emotionally and spiritually. The official release date is October 2, 2012, but it is currently available for pre-orders through Proverbs 31! More information is available at www.stressedlessliving.com .

And, if you want to make sure you avoid burnout and get your stress under control, I invite you to sign up for my free 10 Day Stress Detox!   Visit my blog at www.traciewmiles.com to get signed up.  

For everyone who signs up for the Stress Detox before this weekend, I will send an expanded, more detailed 8 page version of the 10 Tips To Avoiding Ministry Burnout for free!

If interested, just forward your email subscription confirmation to me at and your informational and motivational freebie will be on the way!

Sweet blessings!

 Tracie Miles

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What’s Holding You Back?

Whew!  It’s really been a week for some of the speakers with whom I’ve had conversations.  This speaking journey is tough, and there’s just no way to sugar-coat that truth.

Picture me now switching from my coach hat to my cheerleader’s uniform (Just for modesty’s sake, picture a 1950s cheerleader uniform on me!).  Here I go…I’m shaking my pom poms and jumping around wildly to cheer you on to bigger things in your calling.

  • Your nerves don’t have to shut you down!  Click here for more.
  • You can prioritize the time it takes!  Click here for more.
  • It’s not an easy calling (and hard doesn’t mean you’re not called), but it’s worth it!  Click here for more.
  • You can hone your craft and create better messages!  Click here for more.
  • You can build your own cheerleading community!  Click here for more.
  • God can multiply your meager!  Click here for more.
  • Your voice is important and needed!  Click here for more.
  • It’s a war, but you’re on the winning side!  Click here for more.

If any of those truths resonate with you and you realize that it’s an area that holds you back, I hope you’ll click to read more encouragement.

You’re not in this alone.  I promise.  Every speaker I’ve ever known has hit points that quitting looked like the loveliest option.  I have felt the same way.  But, friend, if God is the One who has called, quitting really isn’t an option at all.  So here’s a prayer for you from my cheerleading heart:

Lord, would you reach out and encourage every Speaker Girl who is reading this prayer?  Strengthen her for the spiritual battle that comes with this calling.  Help her make time for the hard work involved in ministry.  Pour joy into her as she listens for Your voice to share with others.  Fill her heart with love for the people to whom she ministers.  Go in front of her to prepare the way.  Go behind her to protect her vulnerabilities.  Walk beside her and hold her hand as her Friend and Companion.  We’re so grateful that we’re called into Divine Partnership with you, Jesus!  In Your precious name, Amen.

Love you, Speaker Friends!


We had such a wonderful time during last week’s conference call, Brass Tacks:  Message Development Essentials!  If you were unable to join us, the recording will go on sale on Oct. 13.  Our next call, Unforgettable:  Creating Messages that People Just Can’t Shake, will be on Thursday, Nov. 8th.  Please make plans to join us–registration is now open.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Creating a Community

Hi friend!  Today we’ve got a fabulous follow-up post on social networking by Suzie Eller.  Before I turn it over to Suzie, I want to give you one more reminder to sign up for Brass Tacks:  Message Development Essentials, a conference call that will be held this Thursday, Sept. 13 at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.  I’m working hard to present all the things I’ve learned and am learning in a format that contains something for every speaker at every experiential level.  Please join us!

Without further ado…Here’s Suzie!  ~Amy

In our last post  I shared a second question: How will I communicate my message throughout my entire social media platform?

Can I be honest with you about something? I don’t like the word “brand”. But I love the word community.

Once we know who we are, the heart of our message, who is searching for that message, then we want every piece of cyber real estate that bears our name to reflect the type of community we hope to build, and the audience we hope to draw.

In our last conversation, we talked about a fashionista mom blogger. She’s smart. She’s savvy.

She’s also bummed.

She’s working so hard on her blog posts, but only a few are coming to her blog.

My advice to this beautiful mom blogger is to reach out to a larger segment of the cyber population to build community. A perfect second “home” in cyberspace is on Facebook.

I already have a Facebook page, Suzie. 

There’s a major difference between your personal page, where you share pictures of your kids and what you had for lunch, and your ministry page, which is specific to your audience and core message.

To create a Facebook page, you go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. This is a separate page from your personal page. There is no limit on the number of people who can “like” your page. It offers some very cool options like having multiple administrators, event announcements, the ability to pre-post your status updates, and much more.

Facebook allows you to have both a personal page and an organization or nonprofit page, but keeps those worlds separate.

Your ministry page reflects your ministry. It is specific to your audience. When you look at one of my ministry pages (yes, you can create more than one!) at www.facebook.com/MomsTogether, you find a ministry devoted to encouraging moms with solid information, giveaways, community, and connection.

Next, my advice to the mom blogger was to create a Twitter account ().

Let’s say that our fashionista mom posted a great thrift find, and how much money she saved on her blog post. Then she takes a few moments and adds a status update with a link in her FB ministry page, and then a short, fun tweet with a link in Twitter.

The original exposure was just to those who came to her blog post. Now suddenly she’s opened a door to two entirely different audiences, but with the same core message, and same fun content. And in doing so, she is building a solid community of moms of faith who love shopping, or fashion, motherhood, and who want to live on a budget.

This creates word of mouth. It also establishes your identity. When people visit you on the web, they don’t have to try to figure out who you are. They know who you are!

Building community is just that. Using social media takes time. The key is to offer consistent and valuable content.

As you create your cyberspace community, understand that it may take an entirely different turn than you expect. My FB community surprised me the most! Moms Together will be two years old in November, 2012. It started with 100+ moms and today its nearly at 12,000 and growing daily.

Today, take an honest look at your blog. Your Facebook page. Your Twitter. How does each reflect you, your core message, your audience’s felt need, and yes, even your brand?

What is one step you can take today to begin to build community?

Suzie Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author, and Christian Writers Guild Mentor. Connect with Suzie at www.tsuzanneeller.com.



is not to count on the dollars, but build the community beforehand so that readers are waiting to receive the book, rather than trying to find readers after . .

is not to count on the dollars, but build the community beforehand so that readers are waiting to receive the book, rather than trying to find readers after . .

is not to count on the dollars, but build the community beforehand so that readers are waiting to receive the book, rather than trying to find readers after . .



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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Confident Message Development

“How confident do you feel about being able to develop a life-transforming message?”

Renee Swope asked me that question early in my tenure with the Proverbs 31 Speaker Team.  At that point my answer was, “Not very.”

The conversation started as we discussed my developing bio sheet.  I was discouraged, because mine wasn’t as snazzy or impressive as the others from the team.  Other speakers were telling about their speaking venues and newly published books.  I had several sentences about my dog.  Seriously.

Renee reassured me that my bio sheet was just fine for a beginning speaker.  Then she gave me some advice that still resounds almost daily as I do ministry work.  “Amy,”  she said, “your marketing pieces should never exceed your messages.  A strong message is the first piece of building a strong speaking ministry.  Without a strong message, word will get around that your messages don’t live up to your marketing.”


I promise that we’ll move forward with our social networking focus next week, but based on Renee’s advice, I wanted to park where Suzie left us last week for just another moment.

Step 1:  Seek God and know without a doubt what your specific calling and niche is.

Step 2:  Develop life-transforming messages that flow out of this passion.

Step 3:  Tell others about your messages.  Aka–market.

One of the things that concerned me after She Speaks this year was how many women were putting marketing BEFORE message.  Renee’s advice to me has been a treasure and has helped me tremendously as I’ve sought to learn the craft of developing messages and delivery.  (Note:  Karen Ehman has an exciting series on delivery coming soon right here!)

So let me ask you again…do you feel confident  about developing a life-transforming message?

If you answer the same way I answered Renee years ago, I have some things I’d love to share with you!

If you answer “yes”, but like me you’re always a student wanting to learn more and better, I’d love to share some new things with you too!

Please join me next Thursday, September 13 for Brass Tacks:  Message Development Essentials.  Here are the details:

Brass Tacks:  Message Development Essentials
Date:  September 13
Time:  8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Developing a strong message is the beginning of building a growing speaking ministry.  Amy shares the essential basics of a strong message along with tips she’s learned along the way from other speakers with decades of experience.  She’ll guide you to write like a speaking pro as she leads you to:

  • Embrace scripture as the spring board for a fresh, personal message.
  • Identify the core idea in your message to give it laser-like focus.
  • Compel your audience to passionate response to the truths you’re sharing.
  • Create the opportunity for life-transformation in your audience.

You can sign up today on our Group Services page.  Everyone who registers by Friday will receive a special Bible study tool that has been invaluable to me as I’ve prepared messages.

Registration will be open through next Tuesday, Sept. 11th.  In addition to teaching and handouts, we will have a Q & A time at the end of the call when you can ask any of your questions or discuss any of your issues with message development.  You can also submit questions ahead via email or on Facebook during the call.  We hope you’ll be a part!


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