Pastoral Burnout

I recently posted two articles on Facebook about the difficulties of pastoral ministry. The first article was titled Statistics On Pastors. The second was titled, Clergy at Higher Risk of Depression and Anxiety. I meet weekly with a group of pastors and these articles were part of our discussions recently. All of this got me thinking about a chapter I wrote in a book a few years ago. The title of the book was, Nelson’s Church Leader’s Manual. My chapter title was “Dealing with Burnout.” Please take the time to read this and pass it on to all of your pastor friends (and enemies).

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burnout 2One Sunday morning a pastor friend of mine stepped behind the pulpit to delivery his weekly homily. Up to that point it had been a normal Sunday. The choir sang, announcements were made, and an offering was taken. My friend stood poised and opened his Bible to begin his sermon when something happened that shocked the entire congregation. He paused, as if searching for his prepared remarks, and then said, “I have had enough. I can’t take it anymore. I quit.” He then walked down the center aisle and out the building, never to pastor again.

When I first heard about my friend, I felt sad and a little sorry. However, I must admit, there was a part of me that also felt admiration. I small part of me thought, “Wow. I wish I had the courage to do that!” I dare say I am not alone. I bet a lot of church leaders have fantasized about telling the congregation how they really feel and then exiting the building.

I have no doubt that what caused my friend to do what he did, and what caused me to think what I thought, was burnout. Burnout is when you are emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted as a result of prolonged stress from feeling overwhelmed, under-capable, and unappreciated. Burnout is the job hazard of pastoral ministry. Burnout reduces your productivity, saps your energy, and robs you of the joy and motivation that led you into ministry in the first place. Everyone has a bad day now and then; and everyone periodically feels overwhelmed and under-appreciated. But burnout is when you feel that way for a prolonged period of time. Continue reading

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Two Short Stories

Franklin Community Church is by no means the biggest church around. In fact, we are quite small. But we do, I think, have the most unique church with the most unique calling to reach a particular community. I have been pastoring for over 20 years and I can say that the last 6 years at FCC have been the most excited and effective years of my ministry. To God be the glory. I believe our church has found our niche in the larger body of Christ.

Here are two stories from today’s worship celebration. Continue reading

Programmed for Programs

Flag_crowdPart of the United States culture is excess. If bigger is better than more is best. We are people of extremes. We think moderation is synonymous with the status-quo. What we gain in initiative we lose in balance.

“Go big or go home.”

“If you’re not first your last.”

“If you’re going to be a bear be a grizzly bear.”

“If it’s too loud you’re too old.”

Our tendency towards extremes, at times, hinders our ability to communicate and discuss controversial topics. Continue reading

What’s Up With Millennials?

millennialsThere has been a lot of talk in the church world lately about Millennials and why they are leaving the church. The Millennial Generation refers to those in the United States born between 1980 and 2000. They are the least religious generation in American history and they are leaving the church in droves. According to Barna Research, 43% of millennials drop out of church before age 30; 59% have dropped out temporarily; 50% report not being has committed to church at age 30 then they were at age 15. Some estimate that 6 in 10 millennials who grew up in church will abandon church by the age of  30.

Reasons given for their departure range from differing political ideologies, attitudes about sexual preferences, social justice concerns, intellectual integrity, and a simple lack of commitment.

I think the reason is simple: Millennials are dropping out of church because they never really went to church in the first place. Continue reading

Messy Church

2012-11-30-Sun-Country-524x248First was Purpose Driven Church.

Later came Word and Power Church, and Total Church.

Still later, Simple Church.

More recently there was Church Zero.

I have read them all.

All are worth reading.

But none really apply to my church. Continue reading

My Take

Even though no one has asked for it, here is my take on the decisions made by the Supreme Court this week:

Our government is secular not spiritual. As such, decisions are made based on humanistic philosophies, not biblical principles. That’s just the way it is.

Equality before the law outweighs morality before God. Why? Because a secular society cannot legislate morality.

Our country, while based on Judao/Christian principles, was never intended to be a “Christian” (theocracy) nation.

Nothing has really changed.

God is still sovereign.

Striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act may have a greater, negative impact on democracy than any thing else the Supreme Court did (please read that again carefully). The reason I say this is because, like it or not, same-sex marriage is a done deal; striking down voting rights is a huge step backwards.

Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life.

My passport says “United States of America” but by real citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s time for the church to be the church and for Christians to be disciples. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. It is the kindness of God (not judgmental attitudes of believers) that lead people to repentance.

10 Commandments for Ministry Survival

The other day I found some old files of some of my old writings on an old computer. I wrote “The 10 Commandments for Ministry Survival” at least 10 years ago. I don’t think I have ever posted it on my blog site. As you read them, which one(s) do you struggle with the most? What would you add to the list?

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10 Commandments1. You shall not let other people steal your joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is determined by my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Allowing others to steal my joy amounts to saying joy comes from people instead of God.

2. You shall not gripe and complain when people act like people.

Jesus saw people as sheep scattered without a shepherd.  What shepherd would scorn his sheep for acting like sheep?  When people whine and grumble they are acting like people—doing what comes naturally.  The purpose of ministry is to enable people to do what comes supernaturally.  If people acted like Jesus wanted them to act I would be out of a job.  (NOTE: I am a “people” and I hope others will forgive me when I act like one.) Continue reading