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Pastor burnout is the most likely reason your pastor already has or soon will consider resigning from your church. Think of clergy burnout as the number one cause of pastoral ministry "death."
Ministry burnout is so "deadly," in part, because it is a silent killer. The pastor himself usually doesn’t see it. But even if he recognizes what is happening, he will more than likely deny it, try to handle it on his own, or attempt to hide it from his congregation.
Pastor burnout is internal frustration, confusion, and disillusionment caused by an inconsistency between a pastor's beliefs about life and ministry and the daily reality of life and ministry.
In other words, clergy burnout results when there is an internal conflict between a pastor’s beliefs about how life and ministry are supposed to be and how they in fact really are.
In other other words, pastoral burnout is a state of frustration and confusion caused by an inability to explain or make sense of how his or her ministry has a positive – transforming – relevant impact on his congregation and the people outside his church.
Anyone can get burned out. But pastors are particularly susceptible to it because it is their job to understand life and to explain it to people. Week after week pastors stand in front of crowds explaining how the bible impacts life. But his words ring very hollow – empty – pointless when he feels as though nothing he says matters or makes a real difference. After a while he realizes that his preaching only calls for a little more morality, a little more bible study, and a little more love. His teaching doesn't transform people's lives – at least not in ways that really matter.
A pastor with ministry burnout feels like he's on a treadmill or like he's beating his head against a wall. He is involved in a lot of ministry activity. But his efforts don't accomplish much. He longs to be involved in genuine ministry but finds that the work he does often takes him further away from the ministry he is most passionate about.
Clergy burnout occurs when a pastor sees that the work he is doing isn't accomplishing the results he intends. Even more frustrating, he doesn't know how to do ministry any other way, which leads to feelings of inadequacy or failure.
For more information on pastor burnout, see my other site, PastorBurnout.com.
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