Stage 1 burnout!

I recently, (As of this morning after service) realized that I am in the early stages of burnout. I have traveled the globe evangelistically for over a decade, and began a church 2.5 years ago, with 5 people that have now blossomed to over 300. Great!...right! I find myself running from crowds, hiding in the woods for a moment of peace, holding on to the thread of what we call marriage. My only vacation is in the face of my children. Such tender peace and beauty in those little creations! I have pondered going back to the acting, and music world, but when faced with reality of heart, I long to teach, pastor, and disciple people. Since we began this work from the ground up, we can't necessarily ask for a Pastor appreciation day, as that would seem way to haughty< yet we need a vacation please!!!!!!! I dont think its just a vacation that we need though, as much as the time to rest my mind without a scheduled time in my 7 day perpetual preparation schedule. You know, sunday just ended, and now your mind is already on wednesday, and the next sunday. Saturdays for everyone else are some dogs, and the game! Ours, mentally and physically preparing the personal house, and spiritual house for sunday morning. What am I doing! Life has so much more then this! Dear God, His yoke is easy and His burden is light! What am I wearing?

Any advice would help, and no prescriptions please;-)

Comments for Stage 1 burnout!

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You come first in the Lord's book
by: Anonymous

Dear Brother,

what is your own life and health worth to you? If you said, "everything" then you already have your answer. Being "called" by the Lord does not include burning out. Too many pastors don't have enough personal boundaries or self respect to tell their congregations "no" when they need to. Christian ministry is the biggest co-dependent profession around next to doctors. I myself threw away my superwoman/superhero costume three years ago. I often talked about all my "needy" congregants but the truth was I had low self esteem and I needed them to need me as much. Sick, huh? yeah. the more needy your congregation the more needy you will become. set boundaries or find something else to do. There is life after retiring from the church. I got out at 50 years of age. glad I did. Saved my life and health. Elizabeth+

Take a Break
by: Anonymous

Dearest Brother
Having been serving in a large Church for over 30 years let me say to you, TAKE A BREAK! If you do not the consequences could be far more devastating than asking your Church to give you time. They should already see the signs and be taking action however with no prior experience your leadership is needing you to lead in the area of Pastoral Care. Might I suggest meeting with your leaders and being real with them. My first wife and I ministered again for over 30 yrs together and I lost her to cancer a little over a year ago. Many things came into perspective, and a rather large realization was that the Church (over 5000) did not know how to react. Lead them, you need a break my fellow servant of the Lord!
Pastor Gene Burroughs

Beyond Stage 1
by: Cathy -

I fully agree with the Stage 1? comments. The first stage of burnout is actually called the honeymoon stage - where you are filled with enthusiasm, energy and unfortunately unrealistic expectations of what you are able to accomplish in your ministry role. I too believe that you are further down the path to burnout.

Burnout is usually characterized by exhaustion (emotional and physical); negative response to other people (wanting to withdraw can be part of this) and a reduced personal sense of accomplishment (including less productivity, low morale, etc)

Because the line between stress, burnout and depression is blurred, it is wise to see your doctor for a physical and to explore the symptoms you are having. I would also suggest that you find someone who has successfully navigated burnout who can coach you through (a counselor may be of benefit) or at the very least take a look at the book "Mad Church Disease" (by Ann Jackson)which paints a very realistic picture of burnout and how to tackle it. Burnout will not go away if you ignore it. It is something that develops over a long period of time and is multifaceted. It will require some time and changes in how you approach life and ministry but in the end you will be a more resilient leader.

Occasionally those who are burned out will have suicidal thoughts. If you have experienced any of these, or have thought that life is not worth living, please seek help from a doctor or counselor immediately. Help is available.

Hang in there....

Stage 1?
by: Anonymous

As one who struggled with burnout for 20 years, I have to say that you are probably much further down the burnout path than stage 1. When you realize you are burned out you are usually much further than you think.

In my opinion, now that you know you are burned out, it's time to get some outside help. You have lost hope even though you still have a desire to do ministry. Once you've lost hope you are really sliding down a slope.

My recommendation is twofold:

Take a break - take two days off a week, reduce meetings, spend more time with your children, or attend a retreat.

Second, Get medical help before you are into full blown depression. The line between burnout and depression is really non-existent. The two go hand in hand. The sooner you get help, the quicker you will regain your hope.

I would also recommend you and your wife attend a retreat that focuses on marriage issues - especially communication. If you are hurting, so is she. But I don't hear that you realize that (sorry to be so blunt). The two of you need to face the burnout together. She will help support you and you will be sensitive to her hurts as well.

For whatever it's worth, that's my recommendation.

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