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Are You Burned Out?

Ministry is hard work. The needs are plenty >> more than can be met with the resources available and the time we can devote. Navigating people dynamics and the complexities of relationships is challenging. These struggles can make each of us question our calling.

Many surveys have been offered to help us understand the dilemma of our pastors and leaders in ministry. A survey of 1,500 pastors by Lifeways Research revealed that 48% of pastors feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle. It is a tough role! Despite that, few pastors give up on ministry. Calling is a big contributor >> it’s the glue that sticks!

My experience is that this sense of fulfillment in ministry ebbs and flows. We have a variety of strategies we use to navigate this sense of overwhelm and the impact it has on being energized by the work of ministry.

  • Sometimes you work your way through it.
  • Sometimes people around you jump in and support you – even unexpectedly at times
  • Sometimes it’s like the hand of Jesus just pulls you out of the mess

Many pastors feel supported by their churches, but conflict in churches is still a significant contributor to the stress pastors experience. It’s time to get intentional. Stay clear on calling and don’t let conflict rob you of the sense of fulfillment you get in ministry.
You probably have ideas. Here are a few of my own:

  1. Find your people. It’s really not possible to work through struggles on your own with people in your congregation or those who your ministry serves. So, get a mentor from outside your church, join a pastors network, seek support from the denomination if it’s available, or hire a coach to help guide you on your journey of ministry and leadership.
  2. Prioritize you. I know some pastors who have some great boundaries around what they can and cannot do for their ministry. But, it is always hard to set them and even harder to keep them. In ministry these guidelines/boundaries sometimes have to be more fluid. You don’t punch a 9-5 clock. Determine ahead of time what are those things you prioritize. However, be prepared to make a compromise when the chaos of ministry necessitates crossing the line. When the urgent surfaces and you have to show up in the evening or weekend and miss time with your family – within the week, make time to give back to you and your family what was missed.
  3. Focus on YOUR spiritual development. This is not about taking a theology class. Nor is it about going to a conference, reading a book, or even preparing a sermon or class. It’s about learning and growing for ONLY you. Not so that you can teach it. Oh the cycle of “learning so we can teach” that we ministry leaders get in. Where are those opportunities where you’re getting “fed” to sustain you? How are you nurturing your relationship with God? What are you learning about God, about you, and about the world that you are NOT teaching to others? These opportunities to “just learn” can help fuel you for the future.

That is not a complete list – but it’s a start. What would you add? Want to brainstorm and come up with your own plan? Grab a FREE strategy session on my calendar HERE.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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