A Timid

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.

Comments for A Timid

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by: slowbutsure

My friend,

My greatest suggestion for you is to contact world harvest mission and do their discipling program with them, called sonship. They made this for missionaries that burn out. It is what you need.

You may know about the gospel, adoption, and justification etc, but your post shows that you do not know it at a heart level. World Harvest Mission can help you with that.

Having been an introverted wreck myself, I did the sonship course and it changed my life forever. I have been a full time pastor for 10 years since then.

What you have is an opportunity, don't waste it.

Working from your passion
by: Anonymous

Dude - take the help. Trying to live up to others' expectations (real or imagined) is the most impossible task on earth. (It's certainly one of the things I've struggled with most of my life.) No one is asking you to be senior pastor - they hired you for different responsibilities because you have different gifts, talents and experience. It's best to find your passions and work in those rather than constantly struggle in areas of weakness, constantly comparing ourselves to others. I no longer work full-time in ministry, though I do some. I fell into teaching ESL and to my surprise loved it. I suspect I've got ADD and teaching is one of the few places where I don't get distracted, even when other things are weighing on my mind. And I get to interrupt people (to correct mistakes) and even finish their sentences! (And they pay me for it!) Try out some different areas of ministry. See where your passion is and what you like to do and what you do well. Don't try to be an evangelist if you are a discipler - you'll be frustrated, overwhelmed and always feeling you don't measure up. Hang in there and find your true self. :)

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