Help! I'm Sinking and I'm the Pastor Burnout:
Both in ministry and in life, the disparity between idealistic expectations and hard reality creates the greatest disappointment an individual can experience. Early in their ministry assignments, pastors brim with excitement and joy as they prepare to lead a hurting world to Jesus Christ. They envision an expectant, loving, and forgiving congregation that will embrace them as family and support them through all of life's difficulties.
However, according to statistics from a major denomination, 15,000 pastors will be fired this year and 85,000 are at the point of leaving the ministry because of discouragement and disillusionment. In fact, according to Focus on the Family, 1,500 pastors will leave the pulpit this year and 3,000 - 4,000 churches will close their doors for lack of a shepherd.
Why are they leaving? What happened? Some suggestions from research include:
Warning signs of burnout:
The realization that burnout is occurring and that emotions are blunted and shut down often leads an individual to withdraw into depression that can end in either moral failure, marital isolation or resignation. Burnout cannot be cured quickly or with easy answers. However, the beginning of a turn toward health could include the following disciplines:
God created us to set appropriate boundaries in our lives to preserve us in the midst of incredible demands that the ministry brings. Failure to do so leads to burnout and eventually marital or moral issues or we simply become one more carcass on the road to ministry failure. Let God lead you as you reassess your lives to bring the order that He requires for us to effectively minister to the needs of a hurting world.