By Matt Adair
Here’s the cold, hard truth: Around 53 pastors will quit today. Let’s not make it 54.
Look, we all know what it feels like to wake up and want to stay in bed. Grab nine other pastors and only one of you feels encouraged. You got into this gig because you wanted to preach Jesus, right? Well, apparently the price of admission is a stagnant church, an unhappy wife, and a growing waistline.
Burnout is a psychological diagnosis that comes off as long-winded exhaustion and a ‘who gives a crap’ attitude about work. Sound familiar? Don’t want that to be your story? Here are four ways you can avoid burnout:
You need to tell someone how you feel. If you don’t know how you feel, use this. And then buy a copy of this and this.
Call your wife. Unless you’re at home. Then you should probably just talk face-to-face. Which should be obvious but that text message you sent last week when both of you were in the house gives me pause in assuming anything.
Tell a friend. Not an acquaintance or seasonal relationship. Spill your guts to someone who is always there for you, someone who understands you, someone who is honest with you, and someone who gives good advice.
Establish a daily check-in. With your wife or a friend, tell them how you are feeling spiritually, emotionally, physically, and vocationally. Tell them what you are struggling with right now. Ask them to give you feedback, not to fix you, but to provide perspective. And then take 24 hours before you respond to their feedback.
Say this with me: ‘I cannot fix this by myself.’ Was that easy? Then this will sting. Repeat after me: ‘I am weak.’ Say it until you mean it.
“Want to know who does not have mentors? Leaders who think they have nothing to learn. Want to know who does not have counselors? Leaders who think they can diagnose their heart issues. Want to know who does not work with a coach or consultant? Leaders who think they can fix their problems on their own.”
So you need a team around you. But to tweak a quote from JD Greear, the Jesus inside of you is better than the team beside. So have a mentor, go to a counselor, hire a coach or consultant. But, please, please, please – make your declaration of weakness a commitment to pray.
Prayer connects us relationally to God. Your cry for help is a plea for mercy that our gracious Father hears and answers with hope by giving the Holy Spirit to provide all the help you need.
When you ask for the help of the Spirit, he provides hope that you are God’s child, not his contracted labor. He wants you to feel like you belong. But he does not need you to get his work done.
When you ask for the help of the Spirit, he provides hope that you are forgiven. Jesus really did die on the cross for all of your sins. The war you raged against God is over. Now is the time to lay down your weapons of glory-robbing and kingdom-building.
If you need to prime the pump on prayer, read this. Or this. Or maybe that. Or maybe you just lay all of your cards on the table with God and simply ask him to help.
You can and should put in a great day of work today. Because you are loved and forgiven, you can take God up on his offer to join the family business.
And when it feels like your part of that business is not particularly successful, remember that God does not need you to get his work done. He is not surprised by your struggles, and he is not disappointed with your effort.
So get out of bed, grab a shower and eat some bacon. Throw yourself into a full day of work. Take risks. Give yourself permission to enjoy all the little wins along the way. Pay attention to and learn from your struggles, mistakes, and failures. But don’t let them knock you on your backside because your work is what you do but it is not who you are.
Do The Next Right Thing
Honesty. Help. Hope. Hard Work. The secret to avoiding burnout.
I’m serious about this. Before your next meal, tell your wife or a friend how you are feeling. Use specific words. Connect those words to the different parts of your life: ‘I feel _______ spiritually; I feel __________ physically; etc.’
Listen to what they have to say. Take a day to consider before you respond to their feedback.
- We hope you’ll have some time to recharge over this holiday, but we realize that many pastors work their tail off getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas day services and find it hard to relax even after it’s all over. May you rest, recharge and do everything you can to get healthy and avoid burnout.
- Did this help you? Use the social media options above to share with a friend. And use the comments section below and let us know other ways that you are staying healthy and avoiding burnout?
Click here to read the original blog on ExPastors.com