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My-Pastor Minute, Issue #025 - Ministry Burnout
June 01, 2011

1,500 pastors leave their churches every month in the United States because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure. Help keep your pastor from becoming part of that statistic. Use every available resource to encourage, support, and partner with your pastor. This ezine and give you a good start toward effectively ministering to your minister.

Date: June 1, 2011

Issue Number 025


Last month we introduced the concept of ministry burnout. We noted that burnout is not simply being exhausted. Burnout actually has three elements - each of them must be present to truly qualify as burnout. The three are as follows:

  • Exhaustion - the feeling of being emotionally overextended and completely worn out by his or her ministry.
  • Cynicism - a withdrawal from people to whom the pastor ministers. He or she may become cynical about people ("They will never get it!"). He holds back emotional attachment from congregation members and just goes through the motions.
  • Ineffectiveness - An overwhelming sense of personal failure. Depending on the circumstances, he may actually be quite effective and successful in ministry. However, he feels like a failure.

We now know what burnout is. Lets take a look at what causes burnout. There are six elements in a ministry position that can be causes of burnout. A person usually experiences more than one when they are getting burned out. But depending on the situation, one of these areas will haunt a person more than the others. We will look at the first two today.

  • Work overload - There are two ways that ministry can produce work overload. First, there just might be too much work that any one person can accomplish. Any pastor will tell you that the work is never finished. No matter how many hours a pastor spends ministering, there is always something else that he or she can or could have done. This becomes an issue with pastors when they can't walk away and leave the work at the church. Second, the work may be too intense. I've had periods in my ministry where I was dealing with severe conflict, peoples' emotional scars from abuse, and church financial difficulties. A pastor doesn't have to work 60 hours a week to experience work overload. The intensity of the ministry may just be too much for one person to handle.
  • Lack of control - Pastors often find themselves in a strange predicament: they are given the responsibility for leading a congregation but not given enough control to actually lead effectively. He is charged with moving the congregation forward but then is criticized for doing just that.

What Can You Do to Help?

There are two things you can do to help.

  1. Take some of the work off your pastor's shoulders. Give him permission to delegate - and when he delegates to you, be willing to help out. Also, be aware that your pastor may be dealing with some very intense issues. There might be a congregation member with terminal cancer; there might be conflict on the leadership. When these things are happening, your pastor will need even more help - give him a break on other things.
  2. Trust your pastor to do what is best for the congregation and give him some more control over what happens in your congregation. Pastors aren't perfect. But in my experience most of the time they do things that are beneficial to the church. He typically doesn't just do things that please him. So give him some control over things in your church.

Practicing these two recommendations will go a long way to helping your pastor avoid burnout.

Over the next two months of newsletters, we will discuss the remaining four potential areas that can cause burnout. And we will give some ideas on what you can do to help your pastor avoid or recover from pastor burnout.


What's New?

I just finished a brand new eBook: Secrets to Understanding Your Pastor. You will be better equipped to encourage your pastor when you understand him better. That's what this book is all about. Get yours now!

Thanks for ministering to your minister!

Dan Sherman

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