Burnout – The Challenge – The Climate – The Comeback

We hear the term “burnout” used in conversation almost everyday.  “I have a stressful  job.” is a phrase used almost as much as “Good morning.”

  • Burnout: “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”


Pastoral ministry is certainly not exempt from the strains and stresses of being in the “people business”.  With each passing year the challenge to minister effectively grows at a much faster rate than many ministers feel they are equipped to handle.

The Challenge

“But there’s the flip side: I waited too long. I’ve seen other pastors make this mistake too. By the time they take a sabbatical, it’s too late. I’d much rather see pastors take sabbaticals when they can devote them to growth and recovery rather than recovery only.” (Darryl Dash)

Consider these stats:

  • 66% of pastors reported that their congregation experienced a conflict during the past two years; more than 20% of those were significant enough that members left the congregation.
  • 56% of pastors regularly take off one day each week; 21% say that they do not get any days off.
  • The typical pastor has his/her greatest ministry impact at a church in years 5 through 14 of his pastorate; unfortunately, the average pastor lasts only five years at a church.
  • 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 40% of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.
  • 64% of adults say that truth is relative to the person and their circumstances.

The Climate of Burnout

“Our problem is that we hate rest. We fill every nook of our lives with things to do, skimp on our vacations, and refuse to take days for rest.” (Darryl Dash)

8 Symptoms You Might Be burning out

  1. I want people who have hurt me to suffer.
  2. I self-medicate in ways that nobody else knows.
  3. I don’t sleep well because I’m overwhelmed by anxiety.
  4. I struggle to care about anyone or anything.
  5. I’m ready to flip tables when people around me aren’t perfect.
  6. I act like I care about people, but I’m just using them.
  7. I have no one who I can talk to honestly without fear of losing my job.
  8. I avoid God.

Here’s more from Matt Adir

The Comeback

“We’re often tempted to see rest as a curse.” (Darryl Dash)

10 Ways To Avoid Burnout

  1. Know when to say “no.”
  2. Take time for you.
  3. Don’t own things you can’t control.
  4. Give yourself grace.
  5. Spend time with peers.
  6. Cling to compliments and dismiss criticism.
  7. Focus on the important more than the urgent.
  8. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
  9. Reward yourself often.
  10. Use all of your vacation time.

Here’s more from Tim Parsons.

Cure For Pastor Burnout

  1. Find a small group you don’t have to lead.
  2. Create healthy boundaries.
  3. Seek counsel regularly.
  4. Celebrate with your church.
  5. Build a Volunteer Program.

Here more from Ryan Nelson

So there you have it, the challenge, the climate and the comeback of burnout.

The stats above are not going to change very soon:) So we have to learn to live within the tension of ministry life.

Do you see yourself anywhere in the 8 symptoms?

Of the 15 suggestions in the Comeback which ones do you have in place and which ones do you stink at?

Taking care of our bodies is a spiritual issue and no one is going to do it for us.  What’s your first step?







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