How Pastors Can Avoid Burnout

Burnout is far too popular among pastors (If you don’t believe me, check out these statistics). I believe pastors face burnout because they don’t take the necessary steps to prevent it before it happens. Many times pastor’s hit their burnout stage and then look for help, but sometimes it’s too late. The key to avoiding burnout in ministry is taking steps to avoid it before it even becomes an issues. So what are some steps you can take to avoid burnout as a pastor?

Guard your time with God. Never let a day go by without spending some time with your Savior. Ministry is busy and will steal time away from God if you let it, so guard that time with all you’ve got. Find a time during your daily routine where you can get alone, unplug, and spend time with God in His Word and in prayer (here is a great online devotional tool I use daily).

Love the person of Christ more than the work of Christ. This one is tied closely to guarding your time with God. Unfortunately many pastors are more in love with ministry than they are with Jesus. I believe this happens to a pastor when he neglects his own personal time with God. If you are spending time with God, taking in His Word, and communicating with Him in prayer you will grow in your love for Jesus which will fuel you to do His work. When we don’t do it in that order, we end up doing His work by our own efforts and strength because we haven’t spend time falling more in love with Him. Don’t allow ministry to become your thing of worship, worship Jesus!

Take care of yourself physically. I’m preaching to myself when it comes to this one. Ministry will take all you have physically. Being a pastor can be one of the most physically exhausting things ever. Because of it’s demand on your body and energy, if pastor’s  don’t take care of themselves physically they can burnout fast. Take some time out of your busy schedule to exercise. The most helpful thing many pastors could do to fight against burnout is have a regular exercise routine. And remember, eating healthy is a must too. Our bodies are the instrument God uses to do ministry through us, so let’s make sure we take proper care of it.

Keep your marriage first. One of the reasons many pastor’s face burnout is because their marriages are suffering under the weight of their ministry. I don’t think it can be said enough, but your marriage come BEFORE your ministry. God has created you to be the pastor of your home before a pastor at your church. When your ministry comes before your marriage you are on the brink of burnout. When your marriage comes first and you’re striving to be a pastor at home first, your ministry will be in better shape and not running on empty, headed towards burnout.

These are just a few simple ways I believe pastor’s can avoid burnout before it happens. I would recommend that every pastor should read Wayne Cordeiro’s book Leading on Empty (I recently wrote a review of it here).

[Question] How do you prevent burnout before it happens?

Book Review: Leading on Empty

Recently I finished reading Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro. I never heard much from Cordeiro until I saw him in the Elephant Room 2. In the Elephant Room 2, Cordeiro was a part of a great conversation on burnout. He mentioned his book Leading on Empty so I knew I needed to get around to reading it sometime. I’m glad I did. This was one of the best leadership books I have ever read.

As leaders, speaking particularly of church leaders, we are expected to lead even if we don’t “feel” like it. Ministry can be a 24/7 thing that demands your time, energy, and heart. This is not always an easy thing for pastors and most of the time leads to burnout. Here are a few statistics to show where many pastors are:

80% percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
75% percent report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
45% ercent of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry
40% percent of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.

This is why Cordeiro’s book Leading on Empty is a breath of fresh air for church leaders. In this book, you will not only learn how to lead when your spiritually, emotional, and physical tank is on empty, but how to prevent burnout before it happens. The thing I enjoyed most about this book was it’s balance. What I mean by is that it presented God’s Word and the spiritual healing side of burnout, but it also presented medical facts and the physical side of avoiding burnout.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone in leadership, epscecially those in church leadership. There is nothing more important in leadership than protecting your spiritual life, physical health, and family. In this book, you will hear Cordeiro’s story of burnout as well as learn how to protect yourself from the same.

Click here to get a copy of Leading in Empty from Amazon for a great price!

Favorite Quotes from The Elephant Room

Yesterday I was able to attend a live streaming of The Elephant Room at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, OH. If you have never heard of The Elephant Room it is simply where a group of well-known pastors from different backgrounds and church styles come together to talk about the things most church leaders are debating behind closed doors. Elephant Room Round 1 took place last year and I was able to watch the DVD set when it came out. This year I was able to go watch The Elephant Room Round 2 live through a live stream. I cam away from the event yesterday encouraged, convicted, and challenged. It was simple a great event where men who love Jesus and the Gospel came together and put aside their differences to have the conversations we usually have behind closed doors. The amount of unity, love, and respect that was demonstrated by these men was amazing! I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes and points these men made throughout the day. Before I share the quotes and points, here is a quick run down on the pastors that were a part of the event.

Jack Graham-Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. Has served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mark Driscoll-Preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Steven Furtick-Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.
Crawford Lorritts-Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA.
Wayne Cordeiro-Founding Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii.
James MacDonald-Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel and started The Elephant Room.
T.D. Jakes-Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House.

Conversation #1: With a Little Help From My Friend
What is the future of denominations. 

“Denominations that do not do missions should go away.” JG

“A denomination is a para church ministry, it should come along side local churches.” JG

“A lot of money is being given, but is work being done?” MD

“Are we going to be kingdom builders or empire builders?” WC

“Don’t take overseas what you are not doing locally.” JG

“We are not trying to be Calvinists, we are trying to be evangelists.” MD

Conversation #2: Can’t Buy Me Love
What essentials should be part of the Gospel presentation. 

“Sharing the message creatively is not watering it down.” SF

“God has called me to preach the Gospel, not critique it.” SF

“Preaching is sharing truth through personality.” JM

“If people meet Jesus, is there a wrong way to do that?” MD

“It’s easier to be a critic than a preacher.” MD

Conversation #3: A Hards Day Night
How can a pastor handle the pressures of ministry and burnout. 

“Everyone is susceptible to burnout.” WC

“What fuels you on the inside can destroy you on the outside.” WC

“Pastors dont forget their pastors, they forget they are human.” WC

“The Devil cannot steal your ministry so he steals the joy of your ministry.” WC

“The Devil cant push you off the ledge, but he will try to do something that will make you jump.” WC

“You cannot critique what you have not seen.” TJ

“I try and have relationships that complete me not compete with me.” TJ

“Your wife should be your number one accountability person.” JG

“Your identity is not your ministry.” MD

Conversation #4: Ticket to Ride
What are the “majors” of Christian doctrine that we must agree on. 

“The nature of God is a mystery.” MD

“None of our books on the Godhead will be on sale in heaven.” TJ

“Stumbling to explain God is worship.” TJ

“If we dont do a better job at communicating we will not survive.” TJ

Conversation #5: Come Together
How do we pursue racial harmony in the church. 

“The way to get the walls down is to tear off the roof” JG

“I believe some churches are dead, and should be dead, because they are full of hate.” JG

“When I know you, I can love you.” JG

“You can’t integrate your ministry until you integrate your life.” TJ

“The church is not doing as good as the world is doing with integration.” TJ

“We serve a God who challenges us to be uncomfortable.” TJ

“The lack of moral courage in the church is appalling.” CL

“If you are serious about being used by God, you must understand God is bigger than you.” TJ

Conversation #6: Help
What do we do when a pastor or church leader fails morally? 

“I’m a steward of the integrity of the church and the message.” CL

“When we confront others over sin, there should be tears in our soul.” CL

“It’s not only confession that heals, but repentance.” WC

“A mans marriage will go silent before it goes south” JM

“You can tell a lot about a mans marriage from the countenance of his wife.” JM

“Restoration to fellowship is different than restoration to leadership.” JM

“I have never talked to someone who has failed morally that was not consistent in his time with the Lord.” CL

“Ministry is not a right, it is a privilege.” JM

“It’s not about the messenger, its about the message.” JM

Conversation #7: We Can Work on It
What responsibilities do we have to local pastors who exist outside our theological boundaries, but within the body of Christ? 

“I’m still fired up about the doctrines, I’m just not angry about it.” JM

“People say they are defending the Gospel, but they really are just being crappy friends.” SF