Afraid to take the jump.

(Tulsa, OK)

I've been a pastor for 25 years and now at 50 I don't want to pastor any more. I've been at my present position for 21 years. I love the people, but am very weary with the ministry. Low energy, enthusiasm and interest is causing the church to sink beneath me. I know I should go, but don't know what to do. I'm in debt and don't know how I'll survive financially. What a lousy reason to stay. I feel so guilty. I can't get up for another push. Where is a man my age who has been in the ministry all his adult life suppose to get a job. I've got to take care of my family. Is there life out there? Is there a market for an ex-preacher?

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Take back charge of your life!
by: Kelly

To my brother in Christ in Tulsa, OK

I too am about your age and have been facing the same sort of issues in ministry and being a pastor. Feel free to read my story under Burnout Stories called, “Still Hanging in There.” Our experiences are remarkably similar. Before you take the jump, please consider doing what I have done. Allow yourself a period, say six months, and try to make the most of your ministry while you are there. Try to step outside the box and undertake a few challenges that you have never done. Something in your tone tells me you may be suffering from depression (imagine that; a pastor suffering from depression!). Have a talk with your family doctor. Anti-depressants can help. You should also consider a vigorous regimen of diet and exercise. I did this and over time was able to wean myself off the anti-depressants. I can honestly say that at 51 I am in the best health of my life – it has made all the difference. You do not even need a gym membership. I do 30-45 minutes of calisthenics in my home about 5 times a week (jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches – nothing fancy, just basic calisthenics). I also went on a high protein diet, lost about 30 pounds, and am now at my optimum weight. I now have energy and confidence I did not have before. At first, it will seem like climbing Mount Everest, but if I can do it, so can you. Try it!

Also, look at your spiritual life. Are your praying each day and spending time in the Word just for the sake of letting God speak to you? If not, begin rising around 5:00 AM each day for the sole purpose of prayer and meditation on the Scripture. Yes, I said 5:00 AM. Again, if I can do this, so can you.

Also, explore doing volunteer work at your local hospital as a chaplain. This will possibly open doors for you. I took on a part-time job, but you may not be able to do this. However, bi-vocational ministry may be a viable option. Renewed energy will bring a brighter outlook. Try a more assertive preaching style – get out from behind the pulpit and really communicate with the congregation. Make amends with those you may have wronged.

My heart bleeds for you, brother. By the power of Christ, rise up and take back charge of your life.


First Check on You, Then Your Career
by: Rev. Dr. Karl Galik

Consider first (if you have not) a thorough physical and well-being check-up.
If your rhythms have not included rest and renewal, you may be trapped in chronic low-level depression or a pervasive fatigue born of carrying spiritual and emotional burdens without relief. It's tricky to discover because its onset is so gradual.
This is more than taking a day off, it's taking time away and learning to live with a rhythm of renewal. In my book, "The Love Paradox" I address this chronic low level fatigue and encourage a rhythm that looks like this. Engage. Disengage. Repeat. I'm willing to guess you've been living without the middle dynamic.
If, on the other hand, it is simply time to exit the formal ministry, either para-church or customer service organizations and corporations provide a landing place for those who are attuned to the human condition and understand the value of Good News.
Rev. Dr. Karl Galik

Afraid to Jump
by: Liz Levesque

Dear Afraid:

Ex pastors make very good seminary teachers. Try applying to various seminary teaching positions. You will like this better. EAger young minds that will soak up your wisdom and experience like sponges. Or try a para church organization like World Vision or something like that. Those are good too. I know a pastor who works at SAlvation ARmy. Those places need people like you. I don't know your current salary but you might have to tighten your belt for awhile. WE had to do that when we left ministry 4 years ago. It has been hard but good. I cooked for a catering company for awhile cause I had so much experience cooking in church kitchens. My husband did odd jobs for awhile to make ends meet. Our children had to go without. But, it was good in the end. My blood pressure is so much better and we have more time for ourselves and more margin in life. Blessings, Liz Levesque+

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