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Heart Check Questions to Prevent Ministry Burnout

#5 – What do you praise / reward with your team … working long hours, or being productive and planning ahead so long hours aren’t necessary?

Remember: If you’re staying late and rewarding long hours, that’s what your team will think is required.

#6 – Do you have any time scheduled (as in a meeting on your calendar) with yourself to think, plan, dream?

This is time for you to consider the projects and tasks ahead in the light of the vision/mission of your church and evaluating whether you’re working on the right things that will help you achieve that vision.

It’s time to think about your staff and volunteers…to consider how you’re leading them and what to encourage or correct. This time looks like the opposite of productivity but this is where the magic happens. It’s where you realize you’re running in the wrong lane and need to make a course correction.

It’s hard to do this when you’re wired for accomplishment, but this will actually help you be more productive in the long run.

#7 – Why do you want to grow the church?

Are you secretly feeling competitive of the church across town or of the mega church pastor who gets invited to all the speaking engagements? Are you looking for accolades from your pastor or other church leaders? Or are you truly focused on reaching hurting people and helping them come to Christ? Motivations matter.

#8 – Look at church finances

If you have any decision-making authority over spending decisions, this will tell what you really value.

Is the youth budget a mere fraction of what you spend on adult programs? Then you’re prioritizing adults over developing the next generation. That might be the best choice given your current situation, but have you considered the pros/cons of that decision?

Is your staff salary budget much less than other churches your size? This may indicate you’ve been able to develop incredible volunteers to allow for a smaller staff, your staff is working more hours to handle the workload, or perhaps you’re paying your team much less than others. Depending on which reason fits, you may need to make some adjustments.

Do you budget (and actually spend) any money on maintenance (building, equipment, technology)?

#9 – Do you have a church calendar?

If so, what’s on it? Are all events inward (congregation) focused or do you also have community outreaches or missions events on the calendar?

What you’ve chosen to invest time into is what you value.

#10 – Who can tell you “no”?

Especially if you’re the senior pastor, you need someone around who can protect you from yourself if needed. If you can’t be fired, if no one can tell you no, then you’ve set up a dangerous environment that’s not protecting you or your congregation.

Surround yourself with people who know your strengths and weaknesses and who will tell you straight up if you’re heading off course. Your staff members are concerned about their employment status plus there’s a weird dynamic that occurs when your boss is also your pastor. As a pastor, you’re seen as a spiritual leader and are put on a pedestal that’s really not fair to you or to others. You need friends, elders, and/or a board of directors, who don’t report to you who can hold you accountable when needed.

We all, regardless of how long we’ve been Christians, need the feedback and help of others.

#11 – Do you actively seek out feedback?

“Leaders who won’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley

Ask your team, staff, and volunteers for feedback. Listen carefully and take action on their input. Sometimes the feedback will be to keep doing what you’re doing. Other times it’ll be that you should make some changes. Be humble, listen, and ask God for direction on how to proceed.

#12 – When was the last time you were wrong about something and admitted it (to others)?

“People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.” – Craig Groeschel

Even when you make a mistake, if you’ll admit it to those it impacted, apologize, and ask for forgiveness, people will respect you more than if you tried to brush it off.

Regardless of how long we’ve been Christians, the training we’ve received, or our spiritual maturity, it’s helpful to pause occasionally to take an inventory of our hearts. As leaders, your decisions impact those within your sphere of influence. Keep your heart healthy to ensure your actions and choices remain aligned with how God is leading you. Ask him to reveal any unhealthy motives and to help you make the necessary changes. He knows we’re all works-in-progress and is faithful to provide wisdom to those who seek it out.  

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Deborah Ike has a heart for ministry with a head for business. As the President & Founder of Velocity Ministry Management, Deborah serves ministry leaders by helping them to achieve their God-inspired vision without burning out themselves, their staff, or volunteers. She provides a variety of ministry consulting services based on her experiences in the corporate world and as a church volunteer. Connect with Deborah at velocityministrymanagement.com and on Twitter (@DeborahIkeVMM).