Bren McLean

Ministry: Burned Out Or Burned In

by on May.05, 2015, under Leadership

Burnout“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

(New York Times August 1 2010)

What a disturbing state of affairs! Men and women who are called by God (more often than not) to care and shepherd others, have been unable to sustain their vocation.

What causes this sort of mental, physical and spiritual deterioration? Here are my top 4 reasons:

  1. Distance from God

Jesus is the vine and He wants us to be connected to Him (John 15:5). How else will we bear fruit, or survive “the slings and arrows” of a broken world.

  1. All work, no play

Some people work more than 10-12 hours, 6-7 days per week, all in the name of ‘ministry’. Friends, this is just not sustainable.

Even God took a rest after six days of creating! The Sabbath (atleast one day per week) has always been reserved as a rest day, a chance to stop, take stock and be revitalised for another busy week

  1. Inability to delegate

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything yourself. This approach to ministry has limitations and inadvertently leads to burnout.

The Old Testament gives us a great example of someone who learnt this lesson. Moses needed help, so Jethro advised him to identify capable leaders who could handle most of the disputes that Israel had (Exodus 18).

At St. Paul’s, our philosophy on effective leadership is

Discover – Develop – Deploy

Ie. Finding leaders; Training leaders; Empowering leaders

  1. Unrealistic expectations

Years ago I realised that it was impossible to please everybody all of the time. I would run myself ragged trying to. Now, I’m just happy if most of the people are pleased most of the time. Ha

After 7 years in ministry, I can honestly say that I still LOVE my job. Sure, it has its ups and downs, and some functions of the job can be tedious, but overall it is highly stimulating and rewarding. The creative team consists of over 100 gifted creatives, faithfully serving a congregation of over 1400 people. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48).

TIPS:

  1. Prayerfully work out what is a sustainable number of hours that you can work each week

  2. Block out times in your diary/calendar for non-work related activities. Eg. rest, reading, family time etc

  3. Find a mentor who will help to keep you accountable and healthy to “finish the race”

The web is full of statistics about the clergy and burnout. Here are some resources that help you not to become another statistic:


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