Help For Those On The Front Lines Of Ministry.

Past Updates

May 02, 2007
Facing Burnout---One Possible Sollution

What would you tell an effective pastor who is just about burnt out and ready to throw in the towel?

There is only one thing I tell that person. Read below to see what that one thing is.

Often pastors get swamped by the job. More people than you can care for. Sometimes there are more people upset at you at once than ever in your life, from both extremes. You are: (pick five):
Too liberal; too conservative; too concerned with unreached people; too concerned with church people; spend too much time at church; spend too much time with family; lead to strongly; don’t lead enough; read too much; read too little; preach sermons that are too “light” (I’m not getting fed); preach sermons that are too heavy (I’m not inspired); have favorites; likes no one; spouse is too involved; spouse is not involved enough....

Burnout is usually the result of not setting up margins for yourself and over extending yourself. Often this underlies a deeper issue: This job is taken way too seriously.

People will scream at this and most won’t understand. But most don’t understand how destructive burnout is either. Most want to moan and cry and most want someone to tell us to either to buck up, work harder, do more, get clearer, manage time or some other destructive thing.

First, the real cure here is to help the person “want” the cure. No amount of behavior, insight oriented, psychodynamic or spiritual counseling will help a person who is burnt out, until and unless they want help more than they want the current situation.

In dealing with the “burnt out”, I often push them to promise me they will do what I ask them to do. I am really hard on them. I believe most will tell me “they promise” only to later tell me they can’t do what I am asking them. When I am sure I have their word and that hey will keep their promise, them I give them the “cure.”

Take one month off, completely off, starting next Friday. No contacts, no visits, go away to France or Florida, anywhere you won’t have to work at church. Don’t go to church for two weeks, anywhere. Don’t read a thing. Don’t write a thing. Spend two weekends alone with your wife and two with your children if you have them. If you don’t do this you will die.

Of course everyone will say they can’t do that and keep their job. Truth is burnout will cost them more than a month if they don’t do this now. It may cost them their health, mental, spiritual, marriage, and job.

If you want to read more about this, email me for my May Newsletter jeff@jhpconsulting.com.

And while you are at it....take some time off. Soon!