My burnout came to a head last week. I had been sinking under feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up since, well, even before going into ministry five years ago. I am an associate pastor on a great staff of guys led by an incredibly gifted Senior Pastor, with an amazing board of elders. But I have found myself constantly feeling like a failure for not measuring up to his level of giftedness. Even after he tried to encourage me and point out my own gifts, I refused to believe I had anything to offer, and instead started to experience paranoia, thinking staff was talking about me negatively, reading into interactions I would have with them evidence that they were in judgment of me.
I have been waking up early in the morning to feelings of dread and panic. All I can see are the ways I am doing a lousy job, despite any affirmation.
Of course, as this continues, you put on the pastoral happy face and try to ignore the despair and continue minsitering to others. But my mask was slipping, till my boss and another pastor on staff came in and called my bluff.
Hope. The way my "boss" handled this was to speak words of kindness, acknowledge the seriousness of what's happening, and give me the freedom to get help. Though I feel ashamed of being so weak, and resist the kindness of others, I am at least still sane enough to realize the need to take the opportunity.
The plan now is to get alone with God and try to rediscover gospel truth, and remind myself of "the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus." However, I'm a bit afraid of alone time, for what my flesh may do.
Next I hope to talk with someone outside my context, to unload and regroup. Then I hope to have a better idea on whether I can/should continue in ministry, or that I am really not cut out for it, in which case the Lord will make His path evident.
It seems at the root of all this is pride, manifested in a destructive fear of man. Easy to say, but hugely difficult to overcome.
If you can relate, and have been down this road, I'd love to hear how you got through it, or least learned to deal with it.