The Blessing of an Authentic Life
My husband and I pastored in various denominations from 1983 until presently where we basically only attend services and he sings in a choir in another church but does not attend their services and is not a member.
The pastorate is an unhealthy and co-dependent profession. It leaves no time for exercise, eating healthy, spending quality or quantitative time with spouse and children. It sets you up to be a demi-god where others look to you to solve their problems or give them answers about God. As adults they should be finding out these answers for themselves but you were in the way.
Except for weddings and funerals where there is a dire need for an officiate, the pastoral pulpit is a place of pompous arrogance where one man or one woman stands up to interpret for a whole congregation a book which they can interpret for themselves if they are all logical people who can read. Which most are. The pastor stands up above the congregation and that in itself forces people to look up to him or her giving them a status of superhero know-it-all. Which they are not. They find that out when they leave.
If you decide to leave the pastorate you will need some time to adjust to not being a superhero. You will have to take off your costume, your cape, your super utility belt and all your powers which you imagined you had will suddenly vanish leaving you feeling depressed. That is because you will no longer have your ego daily massaged and no one will be asking you to answer any of life's questions which you did with ease.
You will be left with your own conundrum. Which is good. Because the answers came so easy for others and their lives while the answers for your own life have been non existent, you will be forced after you leave to ask yourself, "why did I play God?" Which is what you did when you were a pastor. You will be sickened by your own idolatry.
Once that phase passes you will begin to cherish this one fact. You are just a little human being who puts their pants on one leg at a time. This will eventually come as a big relief and you can begin to feel human again. Life will taste better after this. That sickening responsibility for everyone's soul will pass as you attend to the healing of your own soul, spouse and children. Your life will finally be your own and you will finally be living it truthfully and not as some phony know-it-all. Your new catch phrase for questions will be, "I don't know, go find out the answers for yourself." This will feel good the more you tell people to take responsibility for their own questions and answers and the more they stop asking you to do their work.
That is why you were so exhausted as a pastor and why you will need to sleep a lot after you leave. You did everybody else's work and neglected your own work. The work of marriage, family and children. All for a paycheck, a big fancy M-Div degree, and a whole lot of people fawning all over you. Your wife will be relieved she no longer has to deal with all the women who threw themselves at you in dire admiration. Your children will be shocked you actually have time to spend with them. You will eventually put the pieces of your mind, heart, body and soul back together with time. You will learn how to enjoy life again. Your ego will be back in check. Your disgusting idolatry a thing of the past. You will learn to love being a nobody. A regular Joe or Jane. Eventually, you will give the superhero suit to the thrift store along with Rick Warren's 40 Days of Purpose because you will have found your purpose. Just to be an authentic human being.
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Pastor Burnout Stories.