Until the end of this year, I hope to write 20 short reflections. The past 25 years I had the privilege of educating about 400 future spiritual leaders. They taught me a lot while allowing me to observe the following 20 reasons that contribute to the phenomena of burnout in religious representatives. I am considering writing a self-help book in 2019 for spiritual leaders about how to build resilience and how to overcome burnout:
Burnout reason number 1:
“Co-dependency versus the freedom from having to please others”
Spiritual leaders who have experienced any kind of neglect or abuse as children are especially vulnerable to the phenomenon called “co-dependence”. Often this word is being used for persons “who are addicted to persons who are addicted and/or abusive”. However, the use of the word can be expanded way beyond this narrow use. It is painful yet liberating when spiritual leaders become aware that any community, including religious communities, can become family-like entities that practice (often hidden) active or passive aggressive neglect or abuse of their members, including their spiritual leaders. Spiritual leaders who come from a neglect or abuse background, but who are unaware of the implications of their personal history, become easily co-dependent in the “attempt to please their religious community at all times”. Recovery and freedom from this very anxious and even at times obsessive response is possible!
For any spiritual professional or lay leader who has experienced this phenomenon, I suggest (among others) the ground breaking book by Melody Beatty: “Co-dependent no more”.