Last week I offered part one of a challenge to other pastors to do the things that will help avoid burnout. I felt compelled to write because too many pastors are tanking, up and quitting. Part of the problem can be the church, but some of the onus is on us pastors to do our part.
In my first segment I suggested three important elements that though not full-proof, are essential to not letting the pressures of ministry take us out. Here’s a list of my first three points: quit trying to please everyone, take your vacation time/rest well and get some friends. Read part 1 for the details.
Let me add a few more.
Stop comparing your church, ministry and talents to others. Comparing is a black hole. You will find an endless supply of examples that will make you feel like a failure. And whether they are really succeeding as much as they appear, it will still feel like it. Their church is bigger, they preach better, they write books, conferences are calling them to speak and they’re getting known all over the country or whatever.
I know it isn’t easy, but as the old, but true adage suggests, there is really only one important person in your audience – Jesus. If you please Him the rest really don’t matter. And we can forget that while we may have what appears to be a smaller influence, our touch of a few people can be passed on like falling dominoes to thousands or even millions of others. We may never know the final result but we need to leave that to God.
Learn to delegate better, teach others to lead in your place and ultimately do what you do even better. We so believe sometimes that if our eye isn’t on something, overseeing a ministry or being consulted that it will fail. And you know what, it might. Or it won’t have the quality we wanted. It’s time to let that go. Of course, we shouldn’t just not care. But when we free people to serve, lead and do what we do we are truly reproducing others to do the work of ministry.
Want to leave a legacy? Leave people who have learned to do ministry better than you do. And in the process you will hand off a lot of stress and angst. You’ll know you’re making progress when there are more and more effective ministries going on in your church that you know nothing about!
Finally, give your ministry back to God. And before this sounds like just a nice, spiritual ending let me make it very real. Think about developing a teaching team if you’re the main teacher. Become more visible to your people. So many big-church, influential, popular, powerful pastors quit connecting with the average attender. And while there are logistical reasons why keeping distance in certain settings is necessary, find ways to still be available to your congregation.
Hollywood stars, famous athletes, powerful politicians and the like do that. Is that what you want to be, feel you need be, deep down are a little glad you’ve become? Give it up. The siren call of perceived power will always want more.
Yes, pastor, there may be times when you should consider another option outside of ministry. Pray and seek out all the wisdom you can find. But if you’re thinking of leaving just because it’s become too hard or the pressure is overwhelming, at least try making a few changes before you make a decision you’ll regret. It might be that you can avoid burning out and just get a little more fire under you that will change your mind and heart so you thrive again.