Health Problems coupled with burnout!!

I pastor a church running about 100 - 125. It is a great church with great people!! However, I have some health problems that often times make me feel pretty awful and extremely tired, therefore I often feel like a failure because I am unable to do all I need to do. Plus, my church looks to me for everything!! If there is anything to do, I am the one to get it done or at least see that someone is hired to do it. To be frank, I am tired, I need help and I have often thought of just quitting. But how would I support my family, this is all I have ever done? Any advice for lonely, sick and tired pastor? Please be sensitive in your replies. I am praying and seeking God's will but to be honest I often wonder when God is going to come through. I know He is faithful and will show up but I am tired of stuggling. I really wish a miracle would happen now!!!

Comments for Health Problems coupled with burnout!!

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Burnout
by: Frank

Here in rural Alaska, members with 100 or more are considered larger than most. Although we have about 23 congregations in our Province, there are only about 13 ordained ministers and the other are lay pastors or Elders to fill in where needed. For myself, I became involved with our church in my early 20s after seminary. All I wanted to learn was God's Word for my spiritual growth. I had no idea there was a dire need for church leaders and although I personally felt it wasn't my gift, my wife and I continued to serve as Pastors in other communities leaving our home. Our church has mandated a month 'vacation' with pay at the discretion of the Pastor, plus a designated day in the week as a 'day off' from work. Because of my indigenous background, we live a subsistence lifestyle living off the land, air and sea for our sustenance. This kind of cultural activity relieves stress and tension and is very enjoyable. Our forefathers have stressed that engaging in these kinds of activities is good for the soul and spirit, so I'd suggest that you and your spouse and family take some time off to completely focus on going out and enjoying God's wilderness and doing this is a very healthy activity physically.

You are not alone
by: Anonymous

Please know that many (if not most) pastors struggle with health issues and doing our work. Pastors never really have "days off" or weekends or Holidays exclusively with our family members. So, we must rest and recreate when we can, take walks, read books, work puzzles, or develop a personal hobby that affords mini-breaks as well as personal time with the Lord. Understand that you will have to initiate it. Congregations will not generally care about your health, or suggest you take time when you need to for vacations, family matters, or health considerations. It is between you, God, and your spouse when you decide to take time to care for yourself. And it is certainly nothing to feel guilty about. It is an investment into your ministry if you take care of the "temple" provided by God so that you can better serve. Also, learn to delegate and not expect perfection or exactly as you would do it. Pastors sometimes take on too many details because we want top notch quality for every task. Often parishoners are very willing to help and support the pastor in many administrative and other kinds of duties, but we fail to simply ask, or aren't satisfied or patient enough to accept certain imperfections. On the other hand, people will let you do it all if you accept all of the responsiblity, or are too exacting. Ministry is teamwork between you and your congregation. You are there to lead others in their Christian growth; not to be their Lord and Savior (someone's beat you to it already). They cannot grow if you keep doing it all for them. In some things, we have to let others learn so they can mature. By leaning upon God, you can better determine church priorities and schedules that require your utmost attention, and those duties which do not. Your health, however, must be one of the most important things for you to address and cannot be delegated.

Maybe some helpful thoughts
by: Anonymous

Pastor,

I too am a Pastor of 100-125 and understand the pressures that come with the calling to a smaller church.

I would say if you have not been totally honest with your deacon or elder board (whatever style you have) that needs to be the first step in the process. Let them know how you are feeling physically and emotionally and what point you are at.

I would say also that some Christian counseling would be needed also to help you in dealing with the pressures/feelings/and struggles of burn out.

I just said prayer for you and your family.

Burnout
by: Dan Sherman

I wish I had simple and quick solutions for your struggle. You describe what many pastors are going through right now. So in that respect, you are not alone.

From what you described, I believe - and you probably already know this - that you are burned out. I am working on a few pages for this site that might help. Here is a summary.

Think of your recovery as a journey.

1) Do damage control. Assess how deeply you are in burnout. Are you in full depression? Are you anxious most of the time? Is stress overwhelming you to the point that at times you can't function very well? Have any relationships in your home or elsewhere been damaged because of your burnout?

Repair relationships and seek medical help if many of these things are true.

2) Know your competition. You have two primary enemies: Satan and your exhausted physical body. Both are fighting against any effort you make to get better.

3) Make regular pit stops. You need an extended break and you need regular breaks. In addition, you have to delegate tasks or just let them go until someone else does them. This is easier said than done. But for your sake, your family's sake, and your congregation's sake you must give yourself rest.

4) Travel light. Confess your sins, realistically analyze why you feel guilty, don't live in fear of what others will say about you or the work you are not doing.

5) Focus on the finish line (your call) and delegate everything else. Again, that's easy to say but very difficult to do. Start small and slow and move toward the goal of delegating most of what distracts you from your call.

6) Travel in a group. Let your spouse know what is going on and make it a regular habit to pray together about how you are doing. Open up to some close friends. Tell your church leaders and then go straight to the congregation. This is very scary because it puts you out there where everyone can criticize or think poorly of you. But what I've found in my own burnout and in the burnout of others is that congregations are often very open and sympathetic when we reveal our humanness to them. They begin to realize that you are not perfect, that you are a frail human being just like them. Doing this will actually help you relax on your journey because you don't have to hide any more.

I hope to have these pages done in the next week or so. But for now, I hope this summary is a help to you.

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