“Burn Out” (or “Burnout” if you prefer) is a common problem for ministers– often leading to them either DROPPING OUT or ACTING OUT.
As to the question above, the answer given by Ronald Kotesky (www.missionarycare.com), a Member Care Consultant for missionaries, seems more than adequate. Actually it can be found in his brochure, “What Missionaries Out to Know about Burnout.”
Not only can committed missionaries burn out, but the more committed they are, the more likely they are to burn out. If people slip through the screening process with major motives of travel and excitement, they can succeed at that quite readily. However, the more “ideal” missionaries are, with the hearts to win people to Christ, concern for others, and high expectations, the more likely they are to burn out.
A related question is, “Can first-term missionaries burn out?” Again, the answer is that they are at greatest risk for burnout. The time of greatest risk for burnout in any people-helping occupation is the first five years on the job. That is exactly the time frame of the first term and language school in most agencies. The new worker is filled with idealism and high expectations. When reality begins to set in, the first-term missionary begins to burn out.