Mostly Ministry


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?








My Thoughts on “Preaching Sticky Sermons” by

Once a month, I write for and when Brandon and Joe announced their new book I jumped at the chance to get an advanced copy.  “Preaching Sticky Sermons” is a book you should have in your library.  The tag line is: “The Complete Practical Guide to Preparing, Writing, and Delivering Memorable Sermons” and they deliver on the promise.

They divide the book into 4 sections:

  • Great Preaching Begins With Great Preparation
  • Write For Maximum Impact
  • Deliver Intentionally and Powerfully
  • Beyond Sunday

The book has many strengths and here are 3 that stand out for me:

  • The seriousness for which they take the preaching task.
  • The desire to let the Scripture speak for itself.
  • The amount of time they take hammering home the importance of application.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

“Once you have the single, main passage identified, read it, study it, and then answer these 5 questions:
1. What do I, or others believe that goes against this text?
2. What do I or others do that goes against this text?
3. How might some people interpret this text in a way that resolves the tension of application and action?
4. What problem in life does this text address?
5. How do people justify that problem in their lives so they don’t have to deal with it?”

I know we all do this in one way or another but having these questions and filling them in as you study will help keep you in the passage, keep you practical and speed up your study.

However, you want to say it, “soup to nuts”, “beginning to end”, “A-Z”, “everything and the kitchen sink”, Joe and Brandon have created a great resource for preachers whether you are a beginner or a veteran.

Don’t just take my word for it here are some other reviews.

To close, here are a few of my favourite (I’m Canadian) quotes from each major section of the book.

Great Preaching Begins With Great Preparation:

  • “My biggest prayer is that God would push me to the side and that He would take over and simply use me as to tool to accomplish what He would like to do.”
  • “If you want to see God work in a special way in your message it must be biblically true.”
  • “Theologians like systems. Sometimes, in our actions, not our intentions we end up evaluating a system above Scripture.”

Write For Maximum Impact:

  • “Weeks where you don’t feel particularly creative can be vital to you realizing how much you depend on God to give you the words to say.”
  • “You should be as crystal clear in your application of the text just are you are crystal clear in explaining the meaning of the text.”
  • “Spend time addressing what the application of the text looks like for each stage of life and situation that your congregation may resonate with.”

Deliver Intentionally and Powerfully:

  • “Every time you walk on stage you have an opportunity to make a connection with your audience or your notes. Which will you choose?”
  • “Your voice is a powerful too. The spoken word has started wars and ended wars. It has brought peace to chaotic situations and it has brought chaos to peaceful situations.”
  • “The Biblical text, the Scripture, the Gospel need to be the centerpiece of your message and as great as modern media, and movies and video clips can be they do not have the saving power of Jesus.”

Beyond Sunday:

  • “With the expansion of technology, you have an extraordinary opportunity to further your sermon content beyond Sunday morning.”
  • “If you’re not intentional about furthering that content past Sunday, you’re doing a disservice to the people who God has entrusted you to serve.”
  • “If you are utilizing a one-point sermon, your bottom line should be something that can be utilized as a tweet on Twitter.”




Leadership Lesson at 30,000

We were getting ready to take off from Monterrey International Airport in Mexico. We had just spent a wonderful week at Possibilities House For Children. After walking down the narrow aisle, contorting to put my luggage in the overhead compartment, doing a twist and a side move, I ended up sitting next to a fellow Canadian.

Leadership Lesson at 30,000 Feet

After exchanging pleasantries we moved to the “tell me about yourself” part of the conversation. She was in Mexico on business, a mom of two and was looking forward to going home. As we talked about travel, she mentioned her husband flies each week. The territory for his work is literally the Nation of Canada. Some weeks take him from the East Coast to the West Coast (5000 Miles). Needless to say, his frequent flyer miles and perks must be through the roof. Continue reading…