Burnout seems to come from a few factors.  I’m not going to mention a personal relationship to God.  If this is not present, you’ve got bigger problems than burn-out: too strong of a sense of self-sufficiency which leads us into…

  1. Unreasonable expectations: either coming from those around us or ourselves.  I agree with Josh and Brian illustrates this point well: some people try to do too many responsibilities.  This stretches them too thin to be at their effective best.  Senior pastors and church members can also have expectations that are unreasonable but how we respond to those expectations is our responsibility. 

  2. Not having a supportive supervisor: not everyone knows how to supervise (lead, challenge, support) staff.  Being a good preacher does not mean that they have the ability to know how to challenge / support those around them.  To Beth’s point about salary, it is true that we work for the Lord and not for men but the Lord uses those men to support our work.  A salary demonstrates appreciation.

  3. Not finding time away: unfortunately while everyone is on vacation in the summer, the pastor is often the most busy planning summer camps, missions trips and social events.  Hope suggests taking a month of “off” to recoup?  Even God rested!  On top of relaxation / away from the office, what about time to plan ahead?  A study retreat?

I am on the outside looking in.  Working at a university, I have been blessed to have a supportive supervisor, time away from my students and well-communicated expectations.  But I have often felt the pull towards full-time church ministry.  But when I hear thoughts from friends in full-time ministry or friends that used to be in full-time ministry, I think that I would prefer to have my face sewn to the carpet.




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6 responses to “

  1. Anonymous

    Did the early church have the same “one man show” structure that we have today? Were expecations different? I must apologize for any part I’ve played or allowed to play out in the way churches in general treat ministers. We have become a “what can church offer me” people – which is wrong. The church I’m now a part of really has a great staff. Each person really balances each other out. I’ve been there 2 years and I’m still impressed by how they love and respect each other.
    By the way – I’m also a dad of 3, husband of 1.

  2. I know in my last post that I painted quite a vivid picture of my crash and burn, but I think it may have been one sided a bit. I am counting down the days until I get released to go back into full-time ministry, for several reasons. 1) I know it’s what I’m called to do. 2) I’m gifted at it. 3) I miss being able to devote myself to the cause, not having to juggle secular employment on a sliding schedule. In the midst of all the craziness of my last 6 months of ministry I experienced several of my most cherished memories of ministry in Kent. I launched F5 youth ministry in Garrettsville, OH (the other youth group I was heading up) and released one of my youth staff into full time ministry there. Twenty of our students and staff toured Ohio for two weeks ministering in 5 churches and 7 youth groups with VBS, a full length drama, and worship and it was awesome. So, it was tough, but ministry has its own rewards… that’s what I’m looking forward to most, seeing people changed because God decided to work through me.
    I like the idea of a study break or a sabbatical.

  3. Anonymous

    I just got a call from “my pastor” from Nappanee, IN last night.  He was driving through an area of the Arizona desert during his 3.5 month sabbatical his church granted him.  So, obviously (I know you like that word!), some churches understand this issue better than others.
    And not to be too theologically challenging, but how does one figure out that God never intended a person to be in a position they were in, and that led to burnout?  That seems dangerously close to that one theological stance that shall not be mentioned at HU…

  4. I honestly feel a lot of the burn-out depends on the church and the health of its body. If I knew what I do now about the church I am at, I am not sure I would have accepted the position. I have asked for time off in order to take care of myself and rest which I feel is completly scripturally accurate as well as Christ-like, but was told that we don’t hire people to work for 11 months. There have been other situations with me and others on staff, but that would turn into a rant for me and I am not wanting to enable that.
    I personally have created boundries, know my limits and express my feelings regardless of how they are taken for the sake of my own integrity. Expectations at times are demanding and humanly unreasonable. But not every ministry experience is like this… I think that some churches do not know different though, even pastors think that this is just the way it is. Which is incredibly heart breaking. It may be the way it is in some churches, but let’s not enable it or allow it to remain unhealthy.

  5. Beth, thanks for not ranting but it is very frustrating to hear of churches who are not receptive to letting their staff take extended breaks for refreshment.  It happens in Dusty’s pastor’s case and in the church that we currently attend but I have never heard of this in other situations.  It doesn’t seem fair.

  6. It’s totally not fair… and I think the thing that currently is frustrating me is that at least in my situation, no one wants better or to change because, “it’s just the way it is.” It’s this whole, “deal with it” mentality that doesn’t sit right with me and leads to stress and the burn out sensation… and lonliness.
    I am thankful for my foundation, who I know myself to be and that I claim Jesus as my strength everyday… it’s not easy.
    Again, thank you for concerning your self with this issue… I believe that the more people who talk about it, the more aware and sensative people become.

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