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Christians believe faith without works is dead, but what happens when we take work too far? The story of a pastor whose service to God almost destroyed his life.



#13: Where the Gospel Meets Burnout

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Hey guys, it’s Jesse Eubanks. And before we get today’s episode started, I wanted to let you know about an important deadline that we have coming up. Monday, July 2 is the next application deadline for our year-long September term. This is a great opportunity for anybody between the ages of 18 and 30 who is single and you are trying to figure out what to do with the next year of your life. If you’re looking for an internship that’s going to help you grow professionally as well as personally as well as spiritually, this is a perfect internship for you. So please, head over to our website,, and apply by Monday, July the 2nd. And now, onto the episode.


JESSE EUBANKS: Amanda’s a sophomore in college. And like many of us, when you ask her how she’s doing, she is busy.

AMANDA: My schedule is color-coded, and it looks like a rainbow puked up on the pages. 

JESSE: So I asked her to tell me what she had going on in her life that’s making her so busy.

AMANDA: Currently I am taking an 18 credit semester, which is one credit over the max allowed. And then I’m also in Taylor Ringers, which is a handbell choir. I’m on the leadership program’s cabinet. Oh, and then I also do karate. And then I work several, just random part-time jobs. So I am an academic coach for another student. I work sometimes for one of the professors. I worked security at a concert this past weekend… 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Woah, that is a lot of stuff that Amanda’s doing. And I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here or anything, but I’ll be honest with you Jesse. I’m a little disappointed in Amanda. 

JESSE EUBANKS (laughs): Why are you disappointed in Amanda?

LACHLAN COFFEY: She’s listing a lot of things, but I don’t hear anything about orphans in there. And I haven’t done all the math here, it’s still — I’ve gotta work through it, but I can see about 20 or 30 minutes available in this schedule here that I think — I’m just saying Amanda should consider the orphans. And maybe bring an orphan to the handbell choir. Kill two birds with one bell. (laughter)

JESSE EUBANKS (laughing): You would be the worst life coach ever. 


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Every episode we hear stories of social justice and Christian community.

JESSE EUBANKS: Today’s episode is where the gospel meets burnout. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: And before you think ‘Great, not another person to tell me I’m too busy and make me feel guilty’ — that’s not what this is about.

JESSE EUBANKS: This is about the very real consequences of an unchecked life, about what happens when we just keep on pushing the boundaries of what we’re capable of. We’re going to hear one pastor’s personal story with burnout and about the very real consequences of our relationships in life. Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: So at the end of 2016, Harvard conducted a study to answer the following question — Why are Americans so impressed by busyness?

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I can imagine that they saw strong results because in America we wear busyness as almost like a badge of honor, right? Where it’s, the more I’m seen as busy, the more important I should be perceived.

JESSE EUBANKS: Which was basically the findings of Harvard’s study. In other parts of the world, busyness is associated with lower status. But here in the U.S.? It’s a symbol of wealth and power. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, which makes sense with how society operates because we emphasize social mobility. Like we tell ourselves that if you want to achieve the American dream, then it’s just a matter of working hard. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and then we bring all of those values straight into our faith. And while we would never say it out loud, we think the more that we do for God, the more important of a Christian that we’ll be. But God’s approach to work is just very different from ours.

So Psalm 127 verse two says this: ‘It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for God gives rest to his loved ones.’

LACHLAN COFFEY: Now of course, we should say this. God calls us to work. I mean, he wants us to participate in what he’s doing. And he talks about, y’know in Scripture, hand to the plow and that sort of language in Scripture, so he’s obviously calling us to work. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, but God delights not in just giving us more work to do, but he also delights in giving us rest. But often we feel like we should be doing more. I mean, at least that’s what pastor Jamus Edwards thought.

JAMUS EDWARDS: There were so many responsibilities, whether it’s another sermon to preach, whether that’s another lecture to give, another class to teach…

JESSE EUBANKS: So Jamus is a pastor in Owensboro, Kentucky, which is about a two-hour drive from Louisville. And in Owensboro, Jamus, his family, his church — they were all doing really well. But of course, they were also very busy.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I just found myself really constantly needing to be available to people.

JESSE EUBANKS: Everything that Jamus is describing — it’s pretty normal. I mean, it’s normal to have too many things to do and too little time to do it in. But then, on top of that, Jamus decided that he was gonna go and get his PhD. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: I decided to go back to school to do a PhD, something that I had been thinking about, praying about for several years, and I felt that the time was right. So all at one time — I’m full time pastor, full time father, full time husband, and now I’m a full time PhD student.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Jesse. Prediction. I see a full time mental breakdown heading Jamus’ way.  

JESSE EUBANKS: Well yeah, and that was Jamus’ fear. And so he really wanted to make sure that he protect his family.  

JAMUS EDWARDS: The one thing that I went into the PhD program saying was ‘I’m not gonna let this kill my family. Like I’m just not going to do it. I’m not going to be that guy that sacrifices my family for the next four years just so I can get a degree.’

JESSE EUBANKS: So when Jamus enrolls back in seminary for his PhD, he decides to structure his days like this.

JAMUS EDWARDS: What I did was I broke my day down into three distinct sections. So your eight to five if you will, I was at the church. I mean, that’s what I did. I’m preparing to preach sermons. I’m leading. I’m serving. I’m counseling. And then when I get home from five ‘til, lets call it 9:00, that’s family time. And during that time I didn’t do anything church related and I didn’t do anything seminary related. I made it my goal that my young children still at that point wouldn’t even know that I was a PhD student. From five to nine I ate dinner with my family, they had me, I was all in, and then when the kids went to bed Jamus went to school. And so, y’know, that might start at say 10 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and I’m, y’know, reading books and writing papers and researching just until I couldn’t go anymore through the night. You know, sometimes I closed shop at midnight, it might be two or three a.m. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: What Jamus is doing sounds absolutely like a miserable experience.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, but like you went through this recently. I mean, you would go to work all day long and then you came home, you guys did this huge renovation on your house. So you’re working all day long, working your eight or nine hour job that includes travel, and then every spare moment of your free time you were working on your house.



LACHLAN COFFEY: For the good. We’re — the core, just like Jamus here, he’s doing it for the good. Like I was doing all of that to support my family, love my family, make our lives good. But it is at the cost of being miserable.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I had in my mind I can do this. Y’know, my family’s not gonna suffer, my church is not going to suffer, but I’m going to suffer, and that’s okay.

JESSE EUBANKS: So after an entire year of living like this, church eight to five, family five to nine, school 9:30 to whenever — Jamus started not acting like his usual self anymore. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: I had begun to just grow irritable for sure at home. I’d become short tempered. When I would finally lay down to sleep, I wasn’t sleeping that well. My anxiety level by that point was just through the roof. I remember one day after a PhD seminar and I went out to the parking lot and I just sat in my car and I couldn’t even like start the ignition. I was just paralyzed in anxiety at the prospect of writing a dissertation, which of course is the climax of the PhD and it’s 2000 hours of research. And just the prospect of doing that in an already chaotic life, I just —  I’d never had like a panic attack before, but I think that’s probably what that was.

JESSE EUBANKS: So not only that, he had also started to become just kind of apathetic to his role at his church. And it’s not like Jamus never thought, ‘Okay, maybe I need to rest some.’ It’s just that he couldn’t.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I mean, I knew all the right answers. Man, I know you’re supposed to rest and I know that I was supposed to sleep more and I know that you’re supposed to have days off. I knew all of the right answers, but I wouldn’t do it for myself. And the reason is, like I don’t have time to rest. I can’t. There’s a dissertation that has to be written, there’s sermons that have to be preached, there’s souls that have to be saved. Y’know, there’s people that have to be fed, my kids have to be cared for and loved, my wife needs my attention. I haven’t taken her on a date in Lord knows when. And like who has time to take a day off?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I totally get this because he’s like in the middle of this basic catch-22. Y’know, he’s a guy between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he’s trying to accomplish a lot in a little amount of time. But on the other hand, his well-being is suffering. And so rest is the first thing that gets scratched off the list when you have that amount of activities just to check off. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah totally. And so finally one night at church, Jamus realized he wasn’t just getting drained because he was busy. Something was seriously wrong.

JAMUS EDWARDS: Here was the defining moment. We were having a family meeting at our church one night — that’s kinda our version of a business meeting, we do those quarterly. And um, it was a really difficult meeting that night because um, we were kinda in the final stages of church discipline for a man that was a member of our church that I had led to Christ and had baptized him.

JESSE EUBANKS: So at this meeting, one of the other pastors gets up and tells the congregation about the steps that they’ve taken with this individual who Jamus has really poured into but this guy just isn’t repentant. And any time a church has to conduct discipline on a member, it’s just really emotional and hard. We just talked about this in our last episode, Where the Gospel Meets Addiction. But suffice it to say, the church meeting — it was just awful.

JAMUS EDWARDS: And you could just hear people weeping in the congregation, and I’m on the front row iPhone playing around on Twitter. And I wasn’t even moved, like I — and that’s when it just struck me, like something is wrong with me. Everyone in this church is weeping but me. This guy is — we can’t even call him a Christian anymore, and I’m on Twitter playing around and I’m the pastor of the church. I went to bed that night just thinking something’s not right here like — have I lost my soul? Y’know, Is my soul just in paralysis? 

JESSE EUBANKS: This paralysis was actually a symptom of something else. So the next day Jamus calls some friends in Louisville who are certified counselors, and he drives two hours to go meet with them. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: And I sat down for a couple hours and just poured out my heart, y’know, everything I’d been thinking, my apathy. And I told ‘em, I was like, ‘I don’t even know, y’know, if I want to do this anymore. Like I don’t even know what I’m doing here.’ And they looked at me and said, ‘Jamus, you are burnt out.’ They said, ‘In our experience over 30 years of counseling ministry, where you are now is you are at a point where you can’t go any further as things are or you won’t survive.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Coming up — what to do when you’re burnt out.  We’ll be right back.


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Today’s episode is where the gospel meets burnout.

JESSE EUBANKS: We’re following the story of Jamus — a full time pastor, father, husband, and PhD student. He’s grown irritable, apathetic, and even zoned out through social media at an emotional church meeting. So now he is in Louisville speaking with two counselors. And these men, they’re from an organization called Crosspoint Ministry.

JIM COFIELD: Crosspoint offers soul care for Christian leaders. We say it that way. Some have said we pastor pastors.

JESSE EUBANKS: This is Jim Cofield, one of the men meeting with Jamus. And Jim has a good understanding of burnout. And it’s because he used to be a pastor and he experienced it himself.

JIM COFIELD: And in fact, on a personal note, I remember telling my wife while we were walking up the sidewalk to the church where I was pastoring saying, ‘I feel like I’m just putting in time, just putting in time, just I, I was done with ministry. This is a drain, not an infusion of life in any way.

JESSE EUBANKS: So when Jim experienced burnout, he reached out to Crosspoint. And it so profoundly changed his life that Jim actually now works for them.

JIM COFIELD: And that’s why I have a passion for what I do now. That’s why we have a heart for ministry leaders because oftentimes they feel like, rightly or wrongly, but they feel like they can’t talk. They can’t be vulnerable, they feel their job’s at stake. And sometimes it is. That was my case as well. I just, I just felt like my elders are my employers, and so how much can you disclose and still keep your job? It puts you in a bind, that’s for sure.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so all that to say is that Jim gets it. He’s really sympathetic towards folks and their need to take care of themselves. So when Jim met with Jamus and told him, ‘Jamus, you are experiencing burnout,’ Jim knew first hand just how serious it was.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Alright, Jesse, just for a moment here. Can you give me a good definition of burnout? Because I feel like that’s a phrase that’s just thrown up in society, and, y’know, I use it for like, y’know, there was a time that I used to eat Taco Bell every day and I got burnt out on it. I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here, right?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well according to Jim, it actually goes a lot deeper than just not wanting Taco Bell anymore. 

JIM COFIELD: I would describe burnout as experientially it’s just kinda it can be a physical exhaustion, certainly a mental or spiritual exhaustion. And there’s apathy, not energy, and not interest in either my vocation or even, even life, and that becomes very serious then.

JESSE EUBANKS: So it can be a little tricky here to parse out the difference between being burnt out and being depressed, but in broad strokes, y’know, depression oftentimes carries with it a lack of desire for almost anything. But being burnt out carries with it a desire to escape. So people may day dream about other careers or vacations or things that they wanna do. So the desires might still be there; it’s just the desires aren’t connected at all to the life that they’re actually living.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I said to my wife Annie one day, I said, y’know, ‘I don’t want to be a pastor anymore. I’m quitting.’ I said, ‘I wanna be a teacher, and I wanna coach high school basketball. That’s what I’m gonna do.’

JESSE EUBANKS: And so one obvious way to deal with burnout is to just stop working, and so Jim and his colleague tell Jamus that in order to recover he needs to take a three month sabbatical — effective immediately. Which Jamus thought was just completely unnecessary. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: Well, I spent the next 30 minutes telling them, uh, how ridiculous their conclusion was. And I told them all the reasons, y’know, being a Baptist preacher I probably gave them three points and a poem as to why I didn’t need a sabbatical and as to why I couldn’t do that. The church needs me. What are the people in my congregation gonna think? Y’know, they called me to be their pastor, I don’t get to take a sabbatical. Y’know, we’ve got hardworking men and women in our church who work 60, 70, some of them 80 hour weeks. They don’t get to take a break. It’s not fair.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, and I totally get where Jamus is coming from on this because I’ve been at churches where the pastor takes off three months and I’m like, ‘Dude, you have like the easiest job in the world. You basically live at Starbucks. You read all the books you want to read. You take people out to lunch, you go see movies, freedom to take a nap anytime any day. Like you’re taking a break from that?’

JESSE EUBANKS: But what a lot of people don’t see is that really the sermons or hanging out at Starbucks, those are actually the small portions of most pastors’ jobs. Pastors are caring for very delicate internal worlds of people. I mean they’re taking care of people’s souls. When my mom died, guess who I called? I called the pastor. And my expectation is that the pastor is gonna show up and gonna walk with me through that, regardless of whether the pastor knows how to walk me through that or not. They’re supposed to be there when a kid is born or somebody dies, they’re supposed to officiate a wedding, they’re supposed to walk through all of the biggest seasons of life with all of us. And somehow they’re supposed to do it competently. And so here’s Jim again.

JIM COFIELD: The CPA, the plumber, the person working in the factory on the line, they can still theoretically do their job if they just kinda muscle up and just hang in there. It’s pretty hard to be labeled as one who cares for the souls of others when you just have nothing left to give. 

JESSE EUBANKS: But your job isn’t the only thing at stake. And it’s not the most important thing either.

JIM COFIELD: Even though it can be a vocational risk, I can be let go from a job simply because I’m not fulfilling it. The real stakes are relational.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so this was actually completely true for Jamus. In fact, in Jamus’ family, they had actually already been feeling the effects of his burnout. And so here’s his wife Annie.

ANNIE EDWARDS: I think our relationship just felt like sandpaper. And so we just really weren’t connecting as a family. And there just seemed to be a heaviness, stress. And I think my tendency during that time period was to think immediately, ‘Well, I’m doing something wrong. I’m not being a good wife or he thinks I’m being a bad mom or maybe he doesn’t think about pretty anymore, he’s not into me.’  Like something — these are just kind of the thoughts that were going through my mind, thinking that his mood and what was going on with him was because of something I had done or something the kids had done. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Well Jim and his colleague. they are insistent that Jamus take a break in order to recover. So they actually drive the two hours down to Jamus’ church, they meet with the elders, and they essentially force Jamus to go on a three month sabbatical. And so, with no other option, Jamus complies. And his wife Annie, she’s actually, she’s thrilled.

ANNIE EDWARDS: I felt like this sense of relief. And then I was excited to have this time with him to reconnect as a family. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay so Lachlan, if you were in Jamus’ shoes, what do you think would help you? Like what would you do for your sabbatical?

LACHLAN COFFEY: 100% head to the beach.

JESSE EUBANKS: Well that is exactly what Jamus and his family did. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: We just drove to south Florida and we stayed there for, y’know, almost a couple weeks and, uh, it was awesome. I was just able to breathe again. I think my soul had just forgot what it meant to breathe and to relax, and I was able to do that. And I was like, ‘Okay,  I can do this.’

JESSE EUBANKS: And his wife Annie started to think that their family was gonna go back to normal again and that the rest of their time off, the next two and a half months of their sabbatical, it was gonna be just like this.

ANNIE EDWARDS: So I’m thinking like, ‘Oh, like long walks on the beach. We’re gonna be playing family games and like telling stories around a campfire.’ And I thought, ‘Hey, this is gonna be great.’ And it, it was not.

JAMUS EDWARDS: Then after about two weeks, it all hit the fan.

JESSE EUBANKS: So I actually see this a lot. In fact, I don’t know anyone personally that’s in ministry that has taken time off that doesn’t actually have significant issues arise about two weeks into their sabbatical because we’re just so addicted to doing and going all the time and it takes those first two weeks to just get it out of our system, like a detox phase. And then after those two weeks, it’s like all the stuff that’s been buried, that all of our busyness has been hiding from us, all of it starts to come out. And it’s just hard and it’s painful and it’s uncomfortable. And so coming home from Florida two weeks into his sabbatical, Jamus found himself left only with himself. And it wasn’t exactly pretty. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: I realized I had an idol in my life, which was productivity.

JESSE EUBANKS: There was a reason Jamus overcommitted himself. He found identity in the things that he did.  He wasn’t okay with just being Jamus. He had to be Jamus the pastor, Jamus the father, Jamus the student. And he had to do all those things because he thought that’s what made him himself.

JAMUS EDWARDS:  I did not have the ability to say no to people, to work, to productivity because I had this false view that I was indispensable, that the church had to have me, that people had to have me, that the kingdom of God had to have Jamus Edwards. And when that was all stripped away from me, I had nothing and I fell apart. So actually at that point plunged into what I consider was a deep depression.

JESSE EUBANKS: So what was supposed to be this life-giving time off for Jamus ended up becoming some of the darkest points actually of Jamus’ life.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I had journal entries that I’ve, I’ve saved where I was questioning my Christianity. I didn’t even know if I was a believer in the gospel…

LACHLAN COFFEY: Whoa. That took a dark turn pretty quick. Jamus is like swimming with dolphins. The next thing you know, he’s not a Christian. Y’know, like everything’s up for question now. What is going on with this guy?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well I mean, what happened was that the sabbatical finally gave Jamus space to slow down and reflect. I mean, when we’re constantly going and going and going, we aren’t able to take inventory of what’s going on inside of us. And so now he’s just having to come to terms with stuff that maybe’s been under the surface for a while. He just never slowed down enough to see it. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Aw man, it’s such a bummer. He’s like on vacation, and this does not even sound enjoyable at all. It just sounds like a mess.

JESSE EUBANKS: And not just a mess for him. I mean our actions don’t just affect ourselves. When it comes to burnout, the stakes are relational. So while Jamus is working through his own junk as it relates to work and identity, his wife, she’s also suffering all the consequences of that.

ANNIE EDWARDS: I didn’t feel like he, he knew me. So I felt like I wasn’t known by my husband, like he saw me but he didn’t really see me. You know what I’m saying? Like we were just passing each other from one event to the next. I had a lot of bitterness from that. And so, y’know, when there’s bitterness, you pull away.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so it wasn’t just his wife Annie that was suffering. Jamus’ kids were suffering too.

ANNIE EDWARDS: They would always notice if daddy was not right or if mommy was upset. I remember, we were on a trip to a cabin and we got there and we were really excited and then Jamus and I, we said something to each other, just like one little thing, and it exploded into this like huge argument. And we ended up leaving the cabin not staying there for the week, and the kids, I remember them crying in the car on the way home. And I’ll never forget it. Our daughter said, ‘I just feel like Satan’s in this car.’ That really brought me to tears because that’s — it just felt like darkness, and they felt it too. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So sometimes we find ourselves burnt out because we’ve worked too hard. But the irony was that actually for Jamus to heal, he actually needed to work some more. He didn’t need to do external physical work. He actually needed to do some internal work. Stay with us.


JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome back to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Today’s episode is where the gospel meets burnout. Okay, Jesse. So I get it — Jamus is burnt out, he’s on this sabbatical, things are not going well. How is this guy going to recover? Is he going to recover? Please tell me he does.

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, there’s two important things when it comes to recovering from burnout. So first, it takes community. Here’s Jim from Crosspoint again.

JIM COFIELD: You can’t, you cannot do this work alone, so find someone that can help you. And if you have a spouse, hopefully your spouse can, but don’t put that load entirely on a spouse. That’s an awful lot for a spouse to bear, so get a coach, get a spiritual director, get a pastor, someone that can walk —  or a good friend who’s experienced, maybe down the road ahead of you in life, maybe that’s been through this that can just help you and listen to you and encourage you and tell you what to stop maybe.

JESSE EUBANKS: So for the remainder of his sabbatical, Jamus met regularly with Jim and did the hard work of heart work. They worked through his addiction to productivity. They worked through his depression. But Jim also says you don’t just need someone to mentor you. You also need peers who are just in the trenches with you. And the folks at Jamus’ church? They got in the trenches with Jamus and his family. So here’s his wife Annie again.

ANNIE EDWARDS: So some of my friends were just really good to kinda be intentional. A particular friend of mine will come over and she texts me and she says, ‘Listen. I know that I’m going to ring this doorbell and you’re gonna hide in your house somewhere, but I’m not leaving until you open the door.’ So, y’know, she would just come and pray with me, um, sit with me, kind of just let me word vomit on her. I think one time she brought us an apple pie and a bag of grapes. (laughs) Like she was just trying to bring something to just like give encouragement. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So the first thing you need to recover from burnout is community. And the second thing that you need is just time. 

ANNIE EDWARDS: I think it was just such a process and it was so slow, like the change was so slow, that I can’t even pinpoint a ‘Oh, this was such a huge difference.’ It just happened.

JESSE EUBANKS: So fast forward through time, and at the end of his three month sabbatical, Jamus finally returns to his church. And Jamus by that point, he was okay. And he was actually okay with not being needed all the time.

JAMUS EDWARDS: I came back and realized they didn’t actually need me at all. (laughs) I mean, the gospel continued to go forward and the church was strong and healthy and the church did not miss a beat and the kingdom of God did not miss a beat and the word of God did not miss a beat and the gospel didn’t miss a beat without Jamus Edwards. And that was the most, uh, difficult thing for me to realize when I came back, like ‘Oh, the church is great. Um, nobody left. Uh, they don’t have to have me. Jesus doesn’t have to have me.’

JESSE EUBANKS: And so the other thing that was really cool was that not only were things better with his church, but things were actually a whole lot better with his family too.

ANNIE EDWARDS: So he planned this date where we went horseback riding, and it was hilarious because he got this horse that was like divergent and it went off into the corn field and like the corn kept smacking Jamus in the face and he was like trying to get it all on video and his phone fell in the corn fields. He’s just fun to be around, and I think we’re enjoying life more.

JESSE EUBANKS: So something interesting happened during our reporting. So we thought that everyone would just spend all of their time talking about all of their activities that they had to do and about how they need to pull back on work. But one of the things that kept popping up was actually that technology was actually one of the things that was making their burnout speed up and become worse. So remember earlier there was a scene where there’s this emotional church meeting and Jamus is in the meeting and he’s like sitting there on his phone, but now coming through the other side of burnout, he said he’s got this really dynamically different relationship with technology.

JAMUS EDWARDS: And I don’t do this everyday, but I’m trying to do it most days — is when I get home from work, I turn my phone off. And sometimes I’ll make like a public service announcement to Annie and the kids — ‘kids, mom, look at this. I’m turning the phone off. You see? Off.’ That in and of itself is a life changer. And I’m happier, I’m more enjoyable to be around.  There’s a direct connection, at least for me okay, between my level of joy in life and my time on social media.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so we wanted to figure out if there were any stats out there on this. Okay, so there was a study of incoming freshmen at UCLA, and they were asked this question — ‘Do you feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do?’ So Lachlan, in 1985, what percentage do you think said yes? 



LACHLAN COFFEY: I think it’s pretty low, cuz 1985 was the jam. You’ve got slap bracelets, tight roll jeans, MacGyver. I mean nothing to be stressed out about, right?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, it was small. 18%. Okay, so by 2010, what do you think that that climbed to?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I think it got bumped up, a little bit more stressful, a little bit busier. That’s my guess. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, it jumped all the way up to 29%. Okay, so 1985, it was 18%. 2010, it was 29%. Two years ago, it jumps all the way up to 41%


JESSE EUBANKS: Do you know what one of the common causes was for that jump? Social media.


JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Social media was one of the number one things cited that has caused people to live in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed.

LACHLAN COFFEY: I guess it makes sense cuz we see on social media that’s where you personify your best, is on Facebook and Snapchat or wherever. You put out there into the universe ‘this is my day, this is what I eat, this is what I look like, this is my family laughing, giggling.’ 

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, I don’t even think it’s just even that. Part of it is the image stuff, but part of it too is that we’re not designed to take in that much information. Suddenly we don’t know what things we’re really responsible for — ‘Should I care about this? What if I don’t like this thing? Should I like this? Should I respond to this? Should I post this?’ And we feel all of this anxiety and conflict. I mean right now, even as we record this, who knows how many times your phone and my phone has gone off even while we sat here and we’ve had to ignore it in order to just even be present in the moment? We’re just too accessible to everything. 

Okay so remember Amanda, the sophomore in college that we heard from at the very beginning of the episode?

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, the one with the 18 credit semester and bell choir and crazy schedule? That Amanda?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. So when I talked to her about her burnout, she also brought up — all on her own — the influence of social media. 

AMANDA: I think millennials as a whole, we all feel like we need to change the world in some way and make an impact. Even earlier this week, I watched a movie about the Rwandan genocide and just realizing, ‘Yes, I want to go into social work and work in child welfare and try to like change the foster care system is my goal.’ But at the same time is that enough, like should I be doing more? Like how can I be saving more people’s lives and impacting more people? And so I think by putting that pressure on ourselves and with social media and seeing where other people are at, we’re kinda even more in this competition of ‘do more, do more, do more, do more’ and less of a ‘stop and rest.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, so all of this inclination of Amanda is to add more and more to her schedule because she always feels like she needs to be doing more. Eventually it got bad enough that recently some of Amanda’s friends actually confronted her about her constant busyness.

AMANDA: It was 12:30 at night, I was already late for bed, and my friends decided ‘Amanda, listen. We need to talk about your busy schedule. We’re gonna have a little intervention here.’ And so they’re like ‘We feel like you’re so much happier when you’re not super crazy booked, like we want you to be happy, like you should probably consider cutting stuff out of your schedule.’ My response to that was one, finding it ironic that we’re having the intervention talk at 12:30 at night and I’m already late for bed. But also, seeing that like they were coming from a place of love and concern, so I appreciated that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah and for Amanda, rest doesn’t look like taking a three month sabbatical. But it can look like taking one day a week where she’s not obligated to anything. 

AMANDA: I think that’s what I need like this semester, is just take like a full day like Sunday or something and just have that completely free and also doing things like going for walks and just being filled by just nothing going on.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and of course, what is Amanda describing? She’s describing the Sabbath. I mean, she’s describing the very thing that from the onset of creation God has always told us that we needed. We need time of rest.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Everyone’s going to have an outlet for stress. And the idea here is you either make it really bad — which that’s your default, is going to be negative, some kind of negative outlet. But you want to transition it — if you can be proactive on the front end, figure out what makes you tick, what are the passions, what excites you. I love music. I don’t play a lick of it, but I love seeing music, hearing music, going to shows. And if I can make sure that that’s a priority in my life, then I’m very likely — not in all cases, but very likely — to avoid the bad outlets of stress.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so in fact I ended up asking Jim what it would look like, not just to recover from burnout after it’s already happened, but to try to avoid it in the first place altogether. And so here’s what he had to say.

JIM COFIELD: I don’t just have a body, I am a body. So I have to honor the limits of my body, which then goes to my scheduling, how hard am I pushing it, just being honest about that. Because what I’d like to do is good. I’m really trying to help. But I can’t do it all, and our model for that is Jesus. I’ve often said “What would it have been like to be the next leper in line and Jesus says ‘that’s all’ and he goes away, he goes away to pray and I’m still a leper?’ And at the end, he says ‘I have finished the work that you gave me to do, Father.’ That requires a really vibrant communal life with the living Lord. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So imagine a seesaw, and on one end of the seesaw is engagement, the idea of interacting with people, of doing things, of being productive, proactive, taking initiative. But then on the other end of the seesaw is retreat. And in retreat, it’s about reflection, it’s about space, it’s about solitude, it’s about silence. We tend as people to sit pretty hard on one end of the seesaw or the other, but in Christ we see this perfect balance of those two things. I mean the whole reason that he was able to know who to give his time to, who to love, which things to prioritize, all of that was fed from his ability to retreat. I mean how often in Scripture do we see him pulling away from the crowds and going off to be alone right at the moment that we think he needs to be stepping up his game? The one person in the history of the world who should’ve had a god complex did not have a god complex. 

JAMUS EDWARDS: I just think our identity is wrongly wrapped up in our performance and productivity, and I think we’ve got this false gospel that we preach to us that the more we do for Jesus, the more Jesus loves us, when the truth of the gospel is Jesus has done everything that needs to be done. Jesus doesn’t love me any less if I do nothing tomorrow but enjoy him and enjoy my family, he doesn’t love me any less than if I would’ve led 27 people to faith in Christ that day. That’s what the gospel has done for us.


JESSE EUBANKS: If you’d like to learn more about Crosspoint Ministry, you can visit their website at To hear past episodes of this podcast, visit

Hey, and one quick note on last week’s episode — Where the Gospel Meets Addiction. In that episode we insinuated that Mike’s ex-wife was the one who initiated the divorce. And that’s actually not accurate. Mike was actually the one who initiated their divorce. It’s important to us that we represent people accurately and that we make sure that their character and integrity is upheld in our storytelling. And so as you go back and listen to that episode, please keep in mind this correction.


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thank you to our interviewees for this episode — Amanda Fleischmann, Jamus Edwards, Annie Edwards, and Jim Cofield.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Our senior producer and host and just overall fantastic fella is Jesse Eubanks.

JESSE EUBANKS: Our co-host today is Lachlan Coffey. And our producer, technical director, editor, and slap bracelet aficionado is Rachel Szabo.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Additional editing by Janelle Dawkins.

JESSE EUBANKS: Music for today’s episode comes from Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, and The Free Harmonic Orchestra. Theme music and commercial music by Murphy DX.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Apply for your social justice internship supported by Christian community by visiting Serve for a summer or a year. Grow in your faith and life skills.

JESSE EUBANKS: Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, ‘Go, and do likewise.’


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


This episode was produced and mixed by Rachel Szabo. Additional editing by Janelle Dawkins. This episode was written by Rachel Szabo with Jesse Eubanks.

Senior Production by Jesse Eubanks.

Hosted by Jesse Eubanks and Lachlan Coffey.

Soundtrack music from Murphy DX, Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions and The Free Harmonic Orchestra.

Thank you to our interviewees: Amanda Fleischmann, Jamus Edwards, Annie Edwards and Jim Cofield.