There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout.
I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.
So I asked them the obvious question. What did you do to reverse the dark spiral of burnout?
The question was open ended, so they could respond with as many answers as they desired. When it was all said and done, I tabulated 12 different responses from the 17 pastors. Obviously, many of them gave similar answers.
Here are the 12 responses ranked in order of frequency. Each answer has a representative quote from one of the pastors.
1. Spent more time in prayer and the Word.
“Slowly, over time, I spent less and less time in the Bible and in prayer. I succumbed to the tyranny of the urgent. When I committed to reversing that pattern, my life and leadership began to renew.”
2. Dreamed again.
“When I first arrived at this church, I had great visions and excitement. But I got caught up in negativity and trivial things, and I lost my vision. But recently I asked God to restore my dream and vision for my church, and He’s already answering that prayer.”
3. Stopped comparing.
“One of the most freeing things of my ministry was to stop comparing myself to other pastors, and my church to other churches. I finally got it that God doesn’t love pastors of larger churches more than He loves me.”