I got to spend some time today with some pastors and church leaders. We talked about leading during seasons when you are spent, empty, and depleted. It's very clear to me that lots and lots of church leaders are in the red zone, and I know many pastors who are ready to get out of the game. Most of these are gifted leaders, communicators, coaches, counselors, and pastors. Most should remain in ministry, but they simply have nothing left. They're burned out and completely fried, as the demands of ministry have depleted their resources. Some are angry and deeply hurting. Their families are sometimes a mess. Their spiritual lives are often shallow (I know this is particularly a surprise to all non-pastors). They regularly ask, "how could happen to me?"
Overwhelmingly, the average person has no idea why vocational ministry would create such a scenario. But almost every person who works for a church and EVERY senior pastor knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Pastor, God didn't lead you into the ministry so that he could hurt you. He led you there because He called you. He gifted you. You don't have to live this crazy, nutty, insane life anymore. But to get there, you also don't have to leave the ministry. Getting healthy will require significant changes in the way you lead...in the way you live. These changes will be painful initially, but they will lead to a more effective leader and pastor in you, AND a more healthy result in the people you lead, teach and serve.
Be encouraged. Ministry doesn't have to hurt you. God wants you to be whole and healthy.
- I strongly encourage you to read Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.
- Get back to Scripture. Read it every day. Pray until God is finished speaking.
- Take a Sabbath. Not just this week, but Every Week. Exceptions happen, but they should be rare.
- Take ALL of your vacation. Don't leave a single day unused or given up.
- If you've been in ministry for more than 6 years, take a Sabbatical (6 weeks to 3 months). Don't say it cannot happen. Don't say the church cannot live without you. They can. Even if they don't know it...they need to learn how, and they will if you'll let them.
- Get with some other people who really 'get' you...where you can vent, unload, and let your hair down (for me, that's strictly figurative). If you don't have any idea who that might be, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
People are counting on you. Your family is counting on you. And you are NOT alone, even if you feel that way.