One of the issues that we sometimes address here at Pastors.com is the issue of ministry burnout. And when we do address it, the responses are overwhelming. It’s a big issue. Why do so many Pastors burn out in ministry? It’s because of faulty thinking. Our thinking controls our emotions and our emotions control the way we act.
The problem is, when we’re at an emotional low, we typically make four common mistakes. Next week I want to talk about how to overcome these emotions and prevent burnout, but today I want you to become aware of four of the most threatening internal causes of burnout in ministry.
Mistake #1: We focus on our feelings rather than the facts.
Emotional reasoning is dangerous. Emotional reasoning says, “If I feel it, it must be so.” If I feel like a failure, I am a failure. If I don’t feel close to God, I must not be close to God. If I feel like a lousy pastor, I must be a lousy pastor. The fact is, feelings are not always facts. Your feelings will tell you that you’re helpless and hopeless, but those feelings aren’t rooted in truth.
Mistake #2: We compare ourselves to others.
When we are emotionally drained, we start comparing ourselves. The Bible warns against this over and over again. When you start comparing yourself to other people you are setting yourself up for depression. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s unique. Only you can be you. When you get to heaven, God is not going to say, “How come you weren’t more like Billy Graham?” or “How come you weren’t more like Moses?” or “How come you weren’t more like…?”
He’s really going to say, “How come you weren’t more like you?” We get emotionally burnt out because we start comparing ourselves. When we compare ourselves we compare our weaknesses with other people’s strengths. We ignore the fact that they have weaknesses that we may be strong in. We make comparisons that get us into all kinds of trouble.
Mistake #3: We blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault.
We tend to blame ourselves and when we’re feeling emotionally low we tend to blame all of the world’s problems on ourselves. If you get in a helping profession like counseling or pastoring or social work, you’re going to discover that the people don’t always respond the way you’d like them to respond. You can influence people but you cannot control them. Yet we tend to blame ourselves when others make choices we don’t approve of or don’t understand.
Mistake #4: We exaggerate the negative.
Have you noticed the fact that when you’re discouraged, everything seems to be wrong? When your life becomes filled with fear and resentment and low self-esteem and anger and loneliness and worry, you’re headed for burnout. Then, if you focus on your feelings, and you compare yourself to others, and you accept responsibility for everybody else, and you exaggerate the negative, you’re only going to make matters worse.
Click HERE to learn about the steps to reverse and heal from burnout in your life and ministry!
So true! The Spirit of comparing is a killer in most of us. Now how does one know when they are burning out and what should be the solution?
Thank you! Made my day!
Its well. I pray for all of us that the arm of flesh be weakened and terminated and the arm of ELOHIM be Glorified in our lives, ministry and destiny in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Rick, burnout is something that I’ve encountered as a pastor and something I’m seeking to help Church Leaders not experience with my blog http://www.feedleaders.com
I’m glad you acknowledge this as it has been my experience not many church leaders and pastors talk about burnout.
Great insights. If I could add one to your list: We distant ourselves from people who are close to us. Burnout causes disengagement from all things in our lives. If we silo ourselves from others, that is when the enemy attacks.
Moses was rescued from burnout by Jethro’s wisdom.Avoid being big-headed and be humble like Moses.
What do we do when congregants are guilty of the same mistakes. Those who focus on their feelings rather than the facts, compare us (the pastor) to others, blame us for things that aren’t our fault, and exaggerate the negative. How many of us are not “burned out” as it’s popularly understood, but flushed out when someone else sets a fire to do so?
Other mistakes that pastors tend to make are assuming responsibilities that we shouldn’t assume and directing efforts in directions that we shouldn’t put any efforts in at all.
Burnout is looking down, calling is looking up.
Good points, I think there is also a factor that people tend to have a time-length which varies by temperment. Mine is about 6 years and I feel I need a change.. My husband had no end. I tend to develop a project and then want to turn it over to some one I´ve trained.. My hushand held on to his till death and now no one has taken it on.
How can we tell the difference between burnout and a change of calling?