Lay Pastor

by Joshua

I've been called to serve the Lord in a small town. I was a lay minister for a while, and as the church could not afford to get a full time pastor, I was appointed student pastor. I got myself a full time job in the town, which proved to be very demanding. I also had to study part time. The church demanded me having one Bible study per week, as well as one sermon. Being the only Protestant pastor in town, I got thrown into a lot of counseling as well. My church started to grow, and my overseer (in another town) demanded that I extend our church building. On top of that I am married with small children. Obviously things did not work out. Burnt out within only six months. I downsized, stopped studying, and now I will be a lay minister for life, as I cannot handle not completing my degree, and I cannot bear going back to studying. I am being treated as an unsuccessful student by my congregation, although the requirements is that of a full time pastor. The two jobs I have to keep is literally killing me before I am 40. My secular job is a high stress and very difficult job. I don't even call it burnout, I feel it is way beyond that. Physically I have a range of health issues, mentally I'm tired, very very tired. Emotionally, there is nothing left, I cannot feel any sympathy or empathy any more. . The worse is, I was called, so I keep my smile on for the congregation, but can't do it any more in my house, and they suffer because of it. Can you have pastor burnout within only MONTHS?

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Flame Out Is Not Martyrdom
by: Rev. Dr. Karl Galik

My Brother,
You are not a victim - unless you are a victim of the passive voice.
Although all I have to go on is your blogged description, I am left with the impression you believe life is happening to you - rather than the realization you have lit some of the flames of your discontent.
You are worthy of self-care, management and love. Jesus has provided the worthiness so you do not have to manufacture it. The demands and even the needs of others can (most often) be prioritized to allow for (at least) moments of breathing.
Your great ambition and strong work ethic can be a blessing to many for many years if you will but trust you are worthy of drawing the boundaries that will bless you to serve others for many years to come.
Rev. Dr. Karl Galik

Lay Pastor
by: Liz Levesque

Dear Joshua,

Yes, you can "burn out" in only a few months and it sounds like you are there. Now concerning, "being called" to the pastorate, that is a difficult thing when you truly believe this but what if "being called" does not sustain your life, joy, married life, or children. So, who "says" you are called? Is it someone in this church that will not pay you to live a decent dignified pastoral life? Is it "a sense" or "a voice" from God in which the Lord wants you to lead a burnt out life? This 'notion" of "called" is often misunderstood. For instance, all Christians are called to be 'witnesses" for Christ and yet what kind of a "witness for Christ" are they if they cannot feed their families, pay their bills, meet other obligations, have health problems due to burnt out? What kind of an example of Christian life is this? WEll, this is a TOXIC CHRISTIAN LIFE. I recommend STeven ARterburn's book, "TOXIC FAITH" and I hope you can get some counseling. There is no reason to be a pastor and starve. Does the Lord want us to starve? NO! So, please, reprioritize. The "worker" is worth his wage and don't work for free no matter who in your church says so okay? Demanding that people show up and work for free while they are starving is ABUSE! There are churches much more grace filled and generous than this. While you are going through school it will be tough. You will have to work hard. But, you need help and you need to ask for help from the church you are working at. You need to be paid for what you do. Period. NO freebies. If they won't then walk. Find another place to pastor who will pay. If you truly believe in your work as a pastor then you truly need to get more self respect, stand up for yourself, and make the money you need for yourself and family. I cannot tell you how many churches will just not pay for a pastor. Or get the wife and husband for a two for one sale. This is immoral and sinful. Please do not let yourself be used this way. Work and finish your degree and if this church is not paying you for the weekly bible study and sermon then ask for pay or walk and find another place that is willing to give you a small stipend for this work. Anything less is disrespectful to you, your work and your family. You will have to stand up for yourself many times as a pastor in a church. Better start now. Grow a tough hide. A thick skin. You are going to need it. I pastored for 25 years and am retired. Blessings. Liz+

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