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Avoiding Pastoral Burnout - by Mary L. Weinstein

Many pastors burn out within the first five years of ministry.  Burnout is basically emotional exhaustion.  Here are ways to avoid burnout:


·         Rest - Always make time to rest.  Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.  It is important to have a day of rest and relaxation.  It is essential for the mind and body.


·         Family - Never put ministry before your family (spouse and kids).  Your family is your first ministry and then comes your church.  Your family is your primary support system.


·         Exercise – Take care of your body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Make time to exercise, work out or play sports in order to keep physically active.  Exercise makes you feel good and that affects your mental state as well.


·         Spiritual disciplines – Never stop praying, worshiping and studying the Word.  Many times pastors cut down on their prayer and worship time because they become overwhelmed with doing ministry.  You cannot be effective in ministry if you cut down on your personal and intimate time with the Lord.


·         Time management – If you are not good at managing your time, then it is essential to learn some time-management skills. 


·         Delegate - Never feel you have to do everything in the church or run every ministry.  The body is one with many members.  God has gifted every believer with gifts and abilities.  Elect trusted believers for each ministry.  They, in turn, will oversee their respective ministry and make decisions.  


·         Self-reliance – Teach church members to be self reliant so that they can resolve their own problems.  Have resources available to the church so that they don’t constantly have to seek you out for everything.  Train your leaders to do counseling.  AACC is probably the best organization to go through that offers Christian Counseling classes.  Form support groups and place competent trained leaders over each group.  This can free you up to do other things. 


·         Accountability – Always make yourself accountable to someone you trust.  One reason pastors fall into sin is because they stop being accountable to others. 


·         Boundaries – Do not bring your work or ministry home.  Maintain boundaries when it comes to ministry.  Otherwise, people will suck you dry.  Know when to say “no” or “not now.”  You don’t have to say “yes” to everyone and everything.  This is a sure way to burn out and/or cause conflict within your marriage and family.


·         Relationships – Avoid personal relationships with the opposite sex.  Never counsel a person of the opposite sex behind closed doors.  If you cannot refer that person to someone else of the same sex, then leave your office door open or counsel together with your spouse.


·         Spouse – Don’t feel that your spouse has to be in charge over anything.  This can cause great resentment and thus affect the marriage and ministry.  Unless your spouse wants to do it, they should not feel forced to do anything.  There have been incidents where pastors’ wives felt they couldn’t handle ministry but felt forced to do it.  This caused problems in their marriage and ultimately in their ministry.  If your spouse’s heart is not in it, delegate to someone who would love to take on that task. 


·         Break – If you or your spouse feel there’s a need to take a break from ministry, do it. It will save your marriage and ministry. 


·         Training – Never stop growing.  Attend trainings, conferences, and seminars.  Submit yourself to a mentor that can help you grow.  Seek out a life coach if you get stuck or feel the need to grow or change but don’t know how.


·         Vision – Never lose your vision of what you have been called to do.  Hard times will come but if you stay focused, you will endure.  Set goals periodically for yourself and your ministry.


·         Get counsel – Many pastors think they will be looked at as weak or incompetent if they seek help from others.  Pastors should not feel embarrassed that they need help or counseling just because they are pastors.  It is imperative that pastors reach out to seasoned, competent leaders that can help them. 


Pastors are human and limited in what they can do.  They must use wisdom and discernment.  If pastors can do the things listed above, they will not experience burnout and thus will enjoy their ministry calling.  Pastors and their flock need to know that pastors are not almighty, God is. 

Mary L. Weinstein is a Certified Life Purpose Coach through Life Purpose Coaching Centers, Int'l.  She holds a Bachelor of Theology in Biblical Counseling from The King's College & Seminary.  She is an ordained Minister, Biblical Counselor and Bible Teacher.  Mary is the Founder and CEO of Friends with Purpose Ministries.  Her website is http://www.friendswithpurpose.com

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