Burnout (OBJ LESSON)


10-15 minutes

This object lesson teaches that when we try to do ministry in our own power, we may be able to spread light for some time, but we will eventually burn out.  Only by continually renewing our power source (i.e., by allowing ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit) can we continue to be strong in ministry over the long term.



  • Youth, Adults



You can choose from the following Scriptures depending on how you want to reinforce your lesson.

  • 2 Samuel 22:29 (“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”)
  • Job 29:3 (“…his lamp shone on my head, and by his light I walked through darkness!”)
  • Psalm 18:28-29 (“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning…”)
  • Proverbs 20:27 (“The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord…”)
  • Matthew 5:14-16 (“You are the light of the world…”)
  • Luke 12:35-48 (“…keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return…”)
  • Ephesians 5:18-20 (“Do not get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit…”)



  • Two identical lamps – the kind that burn oil and have a wick
  • Matches or a lighter
  • A bottle of oil for the lamps
  • Table to put your lamps on
  • Bible



  • Set up the two, identical lamps on the table at the front of the room.
  • Fill one lamp with oil, but leave the other dry.
  • Try lighting both wicks to make sure they will light quickly during your lesson, then blow them out.  (You will probably need to dip the dry wicks (both of them) into the oil so that they will light quickly.)
  • Place the bottle of oil somewhere nearby but out of sight.
  • Practice the script.



Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “So often, people burn out in ministry.”
  • “They get exhausted meeting the daily needs of the people they serve.”
  • “So, they try harder and work longer.”
  • “They skip meals and go without sleep.”
  • “They sacrifice time with their families and friends.”
  • “They stop spending time with God each day.”
  • “In fact, this is often one of the first things to go on their daily schedule.”
  • “The harder they work, the less effective they become, but the work is so important that they don’t know what to do except double their efforts.”
  • “Everything becomes a crisis, and this further drains their resources until they have absolutely nothing left to give.”
  • “Their bodies or minds or emotions break down (or a combination of these), and they have a collapse where the good work they have been doing comes to a grinding halt because they are no longer able to keep it going.”
  • “Sometimes they will be able to return to their ministry after an extended healing time, but often, they have ruined themselves for the work and have to find something else to do.”
  • “The have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs by trying to get too much out of to too quickly.”
  • “They are like this lamp.” (Point to the lamp with no oil.)

  • “What do you think is wrong with it?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Right! it has no oil.”
  • “What happens to a burning wick when it has no oil?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Exactly! It burns out. The wick itself catches fire, and even though it can provide light for some period of time, it will eventually destroy itself by providing the light.”
  • “What’s different about this other lamp?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Yes, it has oil, and when the lamp has oil, the wick doesn’t burn – the oil does!”
  • “In fact, as long as you keep putting oil in the lamp, the wick will never burn up!”
  • “Amazing, right?”
  • “Here’s the point of the illustration. The oil represents the Holy Spirit (as it so often does in Scripture).”
  • “You are the wick.”
  • “Unless you regularly refill your oil, you will burn yourself out.”
  • “But if you spend time with the Lord everyday and do the things that He tells you to do, your light in your ministry will come from Him and not from you.” (Open the dry lamp, and fill it with oil. Then, replace the wick, and relight it if necessary.)

  • “And His flame will never be exhausted!”
  • “Allow yourself to be filled with God’s Spirit very day, and you will never run out of light.”
  • “And be careful…some ministries and certain times in your ministry will require more of God’s Spirit than others.”
  • “If you are doing a really big work with the Lord, you will need to spend more time with Him each day to get enough of His Spirit.”
  • “The brighter you want His light to shine, the more oil you need in your lamp.”
  • “During those times, pray more, confess more, give thanks more, praise more and work less!”

1 Comment

Filed under Abundance, Annointing, Failure, Hardship, Holy Spirit, Motivation, Object Lesson

One response to “Burnout (OBJ LESSON)

  1. Noemi Hernandez

    That the lantern keeps burning because of the oil it’s the best analogy I have seen. Awesome!

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