Take a moment to do a quick internet search on “pastor burnout” and the results might shock you. You’ll find pages and pages of articles, statistics, and stories of literally hundreds of men leaving the ministry every single day. Just take a quick look below:
CNNMoney.com posted an article listing 15 “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly.” Included in this list are #5 “Music Ministry Director” and #10 “Minister.”
Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
If you ask me, all of this sounds like a far cry from the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 where he said: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” So how do you know if you’re headed towards burnout? Below are a few indicators that might be worth taking a look at.
Are you regularly faced with gaps between your expectations and reality?
While it is certainly the role of the leader to reconcile the difference between what is and what should be, it is not the role of the leader to live with unrealistic expectations. You must define reality as it is and as it should be, but don’t lose your soul over it. Leaders can easily find themselves addicted to progress, fixating and obsessing over the gaps between their expectations and reality as opposed to the One who gave them their leadership gift.
Do you often find yourself feeling trapped?
Every job has its road blocks, challenges, things we wish we could change, moments of indecision, and even times of feeling a little in over your head. But there is a big difference between being slowed down, and shut down in these moments. Freedom comes through a reorientation of our identity in and through Christ. If this is true, then shouldn’t the most freeing moments of our lives be found in being who Christ has dreamed up for us to be, no matter what it is we find ourselves doing?
Are you regularly ignoring your needs in favor of meeting the needs of others around you?
The scriptures clearly teach that we should live an others oriented life, through thinking of and putting others before ourselves. But continually attempting to lead and shepherd God’s Church from a position of empty is a character issue. You and I have personal ownership in taking care of ourselves so that way we may be fully prepared to spend our lives for the sake of the Gospel. Something that might help you keep this in mind is the simple fact that Jesus already died for the Church, you don’t need to.
Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation