Still Hanging in There
I am sure there was a time in my life when I was not physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted all of the time, yet I am having trouble recalling what that was like. I have been in the ministry for nearly 30 years, about 20 of those as a pastor. I am now in my early 50’s. I have read in this web site of my fellow pastors’ struggles and my heart goes out to you, for I am a fellow struggler. I too have become restless and burnt out in recent years and have thought seriously of leaving the pastorate. Seminary professors warned me about how draining this is, and now I understand perfectly what they meant. Mine is not a crisis of faith; I still believe strongly in the Bible and all its truths. Mine is a crisis of exhaustion. I no longer believe I can be a pastor another 13 or 14 years until I can retire.
I have been unusually blessed with being able to have a long tenure in the same church – nearly 18 years. The people have overall been great to my family and me. I am just tired of the same bickering, griping, complaining, and foolishness of these people to whom I am called to minister. A large portion of them are clueless about what it takes for a pastor to balance the demands of a church and a family. I have leaders in my church who act like children. They fuss and gripe about matters that have no bearing on the greater issues of God’s kingdom. The pettiness and childishness is getting to be too much. I am worn out with all of this.
I exercise, eat right, and I try to live a disciplined life, which helps a lot. For those of you on anti-depressants, you may be able to come off them if you will try a vigorous regimen of diet and exercise. It worked for me and it may work for you. I have taken the advice I found in this web site and have decided to give it six months and see what happens. I am about halfway there. I will post again around the end of the year and let you know. Due to the rising cost of health insurance, I have had to take on a part-time job to supplement my income (Only do this with the full knowledge and support of the church). While this has been tiring, it has also given me a sense of personal power knowing that I can do other things rather than be a pastor.
Regardless of what happens, I intend to stay in the ministry doing supply preaching, revivals, and interim pastor work. At this point I don’t know how I would support my family, yet I believe God has a plan here, and I am patiently moving forward.
Do not give up and do not abandon the call to preach. I am hanging in there. I hope you will too.
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