Church Leadership

Guest Post: Three Ways to Avoid Pastoral Burnout

December 31, 2014

Peggi Trusty is a Communications Professional, Presenter and Minister. For more, visit her website at: www.TheCoachingFirm.com. The Coaching Firm provides seminars, coaching, and consulting. Guest post is reprinted here by permission.

A minister spoke softly and clearly, almost in a painful whisper, “I want to love ministry again.”

I felt the agony in his voice as years of being encumbered by politics and pressure to perform had replaced the fiery passion that once transformed his life into a beacon of hope. He sat behind his desk in an office full of people yet he felt isolated, disgusted and tired. And he is not alone.

The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development interviewed 1,050 pastors, of which 100% of those surveyed had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure (1). And 89% of those surveyed had also considered leaving the ministry at one time (1). Dr Richard J. Krejcir, an American evangelical Christian author, speaker, researcher and pastor, writes that “Most statistics say that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career (1).”

These are frightening statistics and are all too common a travesty in ministry. The constant bombardment of those who are starving and in desperate need often causes ministers to lose balance and falter. It does not have to be this way. There are some very clear perspectives that would lessen the risk of burnout so that ministry is not reduced to mayhem.

Personal restoration

Instead of waving the white flag and running to the farthest corner of the known universe in duress and out of breath, we must periodically take a break. Take a break to minister to your family. Take break to enjoy your spouse. Take break to make sure you and God are still intimately intertwined. This will look differently for everyone, especially if you are single. Do not allow your singleness to be an excuse for congregants to run your life or run you ragged. Ministers must take a break to be refreshed and rejuvenated.

Pick your problems and empower your people

Our churches should have the capacity to make some decisions with limited pastoral involvement. If a congregation is accustomed to handholding, gently wean them off. Share the vision, create a plan, and move them toward that goal. Ministers should not bulldoze their way through congregations with their agenda in one hand and a bullhorn in the other. The only power a minister should have is the power given from his or her congregants. Use that power to move your congregation toward their desired goals such as in-house ministries, renovations and expansions; and then what you and God determine their needs to be, such as purity, healing, and evangelism. Taking on too much power inherently creates a problematic environment that will drain ministry of much of its vitality.

Stop the self-promotion

It’s human to believe that we should have greatness and/or position based upon our gifting, education, and/ or experience. However we cannot lose sight the fact that we do not call ourselves to ministry. Ministry is purposed to promote the kingdom of God and everything else is secondary. There are times God may choose to promote the seemingly untalented humble individual over those who may seem like the better choice. We must never forget that God is in charge of all ministry intertwined to meet His ultimate goal of salvation. The book of Ezekiel details the disturbing ministry of a prophet who preached naked and ate bread baked with manure. While out of context this activity is unreasonable, but ministry is only understood as we relate to the God who called us. To operate outside of His purpose to serve our own desires not only causes personal devastation but devastation and disillusionment to those we have been called to serve. Ministers especially must learn to let go of their plans and let God take control.

Ministry is a difficult profession and vocation. It is a career choice that demands access to every aspect of an individual’s life with no water break or recess. In order to be true to this calling and not overwhelmed even through disappointment, we must maintain balance that allows Christ to continually lead our endeavors.

Reference:

(1) Statistics on Pastors. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562

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