For so many years I couldn’t turn off my brain. I was addicted to the busyness of ministry, pastoring and traveling. I didn’t take my days off and never relaxed. This led to a season of burnout that nearly shook every area of my life. Many pastors can’t “turn off” work in their mind. Even on their days off, they are waiting for that next telephone call, text and email thus, they never taking time to relax. Here are a few things I have learned:
1. Set a Schedule That’s Right For You.
For example: I work on Sunday’s, Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s. Monday’s and Thursday’s are reserved for prayer, planning and sermon prep. I have set strong accountability in my life to keep this schedule. This protects me from burnout and it allows me to give my best not only to my wife and family but also to our church and staff.
2. Friends & Hobbies. Many pastors fail to develop meaningful friendships and they don’t take time to do things they enjoy. I can’t tell you how important it is engage in activities that are fun for you. I personally love jet skiing, hiking, taking nature walks and eating ice cream! My wife, Faith and I go on date nights and we have great friendships that we can just be ourselves. This is so vital!
3. Focus on Your Strengths / Hire For Your Weaknesses:
You are not equipped to do everything well. Many try and fail because they are trying to do it all. Know what you like and what your good at, then list out what you need help in. This is whom you need to hire or develop on your team.
4. Pray, and Pray a lot.
Let God in on what you are feeling, and release your frustration to Him. You cannot tell God anything new. He already knows.
5. Keep Your Attitude in Check.
If you notice your attitude going south regularly, this should be a warning sign that you’re not in a good place spiritually and emotionally. Everyone has timesthat are more frustrating than others but if it’s a continual bad attitude… Something’s wrong!
6. Stay Healthy; Eat Healthy.
Get regular checkups, rest, and exercise. Guard your time off!
7. Remember Leaders are Readers.
There are so many resources for whatever your need is. Read and read a lot. Learn from others that have walked down the road you are currently on. Go to conferences and retreats where you are not the leader, so you can be refreshed.
Look at these stats and let them be a warning for you. If you are struggling in one of these areas, there’s help. All you have to do is ask!
- 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
- 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
- Though I can find no specific statistics (I’m sure they are out there), the pastorate is seeing a significant rise in the number of female pastors.
- 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
- 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
- 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
- 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
- 70% don’t have any close friends.
- 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
- 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
- 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
- 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
- 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.