Is Ministerial Burn Out A Major Problem Among Pastors?
Rev. O.C. Marler – Instructor, Indiana Bible College – Yes, I would have to say it is. It’s a subject that keeps cropping up around the country where I teach seminars. Some ministers stand to their feet and say, “I am burned out!” Others nudge each other when I mention things like, “sometimes you feel you’re just putting in time,” “you don’t want to make waves,” or “you want peace at any cost;” as though they would like to say, “Hey, that’s what’s wrong. I’m burned out!”
Preachers find themselves feeling constantly tired, even when they have just slept, a mental fatigue, a desire to escape the usual routine of the ministry, and the first inkling of any problem of any nature is just too much. It’s not a lack of prayer, Bible study, or fasting; but you have just been too intense.
Burnout is the cost of caring. You see, the ministry involves the care of people. We could care for machines, plants, or animals; but since our work is with people, then burnout is a pitfall we must avoid.
Recovery from burnout starts when you lighten up and realize:
- You haven’t lost your burden, you’re just paying the price for caring.
- Resign as General Manager of the Universe. You can’t solve everybody’s problems, so don’t try. Lay it on the altar.
- Take some time off as soon as possible.
- Give more time to your family and yourself. Take a day off each week — other than Saturday or Sunday. Don’t forget that you’re not working a five-day, 8 to 5 job. You’re on call 24 hours. Relax and realize that working with people is a tough job!
Rev. Larry Arrowood – Seymour, Indiana – Burnout is a very real problem to the individual experiencing it. It brings a loss of energy and excitement, you dread another day, sermons come harder, you don’t want to hear the phone ring or counsel another problem. Deep inside you want to quit. You’re experiencing burnout.
The first step toward recovery is to acknowledge that you’re in burnout. It’s common for pastors to think, “God has lifted my burden for this church and is calling me somewhere else.” Not necessarily so! You could just simply be over extending yourself.
The next step is to get away for two or three weeks. Don’t worry, the church can survive without you. You would be surprised what saints can do when necessary and they will appreciate you more when you return.
Thirdly, try to eliminate high stress points. If a certain program or project won’t work without you constantly pushing it then perhaps it would be better to let it die.
Fourth, make sure you take at least one day off each week. God said a man must have a day of rest. Listen to Him!
Fifth, establish a pattern of personal evaluation. Take a day each month to get away and evaluate yourself, your family life and the church. You must keep your vision fresh and your priorities in the right place.
Sixth, learn to delegate. If you carry the key to every door and responsibility in the church then you’re going to have trouble.
Finally, get a good book on time management and use it. God made us stewards of not only our money but also our time.
Rev. Jerry Eastridge – Tohatchi, New Mexico – Yes, it’s a problem. But I’ve found that if I stay prayed up I don’t become as weary. You also need a family day each week.
Pastor Darrell McCoy – Port Arthur, Texas – Burnout is a problem. We need a revival of ministerial ethics and cooperation. Fighting competitive spirits can cause ministerial fatigue.
Rev. Ron French – Memphis, Tennessee – Definitely, and a major cause is a lack of delegation. You can over extend yourself to the place that you’re not praying as you should.
Rev. James DeRamus – Dundalk, Maryland – Yes, it is! Burnout comes when we start leaning on the arm of flesh to do God’s work. We must focus our time on what God considers most important.
Rev. A. R. Cole – Stanford, North Carolina – I feel it is, especially among home mission pastors. When you must work, plus be a husband, father, and Pastor, it’s very easy to spread yourself too thin.
Rev. R. L. Hammond – Midland, Michigan – Yes. There certainly needs to be more teaching in our districts and Bible schools on the subject. I see a lot of frustration among pastors today.