Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright

Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright

Jonathan Malm and Jason Young are authors, entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, and coaches. They have combined their experience and skills to create Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright: How to Thrive in Ministry for the Long Haul, published in July 2023. This book, as the title suggests, is intended as a guide to effective, sustainable leadership in Christian ministerial settings

From the publisher's blurb about Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright:

Pastors and ministry leaders are some of the hardest-working people in the world--and they have the high rate of burnout to prove it. As a leader, if you aren't operating at peak efficiency and taking care of yourself, it is bound to catch up with you in a big way. So few in ministry feel they have the time to take a sabbatical or tend to their own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. But healthy rhythms of work and rest are the key to a thriving, long-term ministry.

I realized early on in reading Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright that I am not the intended audience. Malm and Young work primarily with American Evangelical churches and their vocabulary and assumptions about church practices and structures reflect that.

Throughout the book the authors discuss several of the typical points of tension in Christian ministry. These all revolve, in one way or another, around relationships and expectations. Malm and Young lay out some good, basic ideas for how leaders in Christian settings can set and maintain appropriate boundaries, approach conflict, and develop rhythms for long-term, sustainable ministry. Each major point is accompanied by an illustrative anecdote from a Christian minister in context.

Much of what Malm and Young have to say is good advice but nothing in the book was news to me. This book could be useful as an introduction to boundaries and relationship management for someone preparing for ministry leadership—especially in a church where structures of accountability are minimal or absent. In my own preparation for ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, all of the topics mentioned in Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright were covered. This sort of interpersonal and self-care were covered extensively in both formal classes and during my supervised placements. My own tradition also has significant accountability structures which should catch concerns of the kind described here before they blow up to unmanageable proportions.

Regardless of one's tradition, there was a recurring theme throughout the book of how "we" (the authors) are able to help "you" (the reader) out of the trouble that you may be veering toward. On a couple of occasions I felt as though the book were an extended pitch for coaching services rather than a whole resource in and of itself.

The content of Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright is generally fine and, on the whole, good advice. It is good advice of the 101 variety and is definitely geared toward a particular Christian tradition. If this sounds like you or someone you know, this could be a fine addition to your library.

I received a free copy of Don't Burn Out, Burn Bright from Baker Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Andrew Rampton

Andrew Rampton

Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Treaty and Treaty 3 Territory