Part 4: When Stress Leads To Burnout In Pastors And Church Leaders – Ways To Deal With Stress In The Ministry

Continued from: Part 3: When Stress Leads To Burnout In Pastors And Church Leaders – 10 Tips To Deal With Burnout

Burnout is all too common among pastors and church leaders, but this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Here are more helpful approaches to dealing with stress and burnout in ministry:

Ways To Deal With Stress In The Ministry

  • Deal with resentments. We may not even realize it, but our cooled attitude toward ministry, or our negative perspective on life in general, may have resentment at its root. Look at the people around you. Do you harbor ill will against any? Is there ongoing conflict? People you wish would just leave the church? If so, forgiveness is in order. Work through your resentments with humility, praying that God would allow you to see your part in any conflict and then help you to forgive.
  • Resolutions-Deal With Stress In The Ministry-Christian Drug RehabReconnect with God. This seems like an interesting suggestion for one who works in a church, doesn’t it? But we may not even realize how easy it is to keep plowing through the busyness of life and ministry, saying the rote prayers, giving sermons and going through the motions without really seeking the one who is the source. Even if you feel distant from God now, rekindle the conversation. Ask for help, grace and wisdom.
  • Recommit to spiritual disciplines. A pastor needs consistent spiritual disciplines as much as any member of the congregation. Are you practicing what you preach? Even if you don’t feel like it at first, recommit to a regular schedule of prayer, Bible study and any other disciplines promoted by your church. Ask God to bless you through these practices.
  • Lean into hope. Without a sense of hope, we are utterly lost. But the good news is that our hope is in God, not ourselves, and no matter our circumstances, our sin or our frustrations, it can’t be moved. God is good and the hope we have is in Jesus Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead can raise us from whatever we now face. This power and hope is yours. Claim it.
  • Get honest about sin. Years of frustration and stress can lead us to seek “outlets” — such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, video games and compulsive overeating — to name a few. But in the end, they only make the task of getting through life that much harder, and they certainly don’t enrich our ministry. Define specific areas of sin and struggle. What leads to them? What do you really want or need that you feel you don’t have? If you can’t stop the behavior, seek a recovery program.
  • Develop consistency. When life is chaotic, stress and frustration only mount. Look at your time management approach and start to develop consistency around your work habits and schedule. Block out time for your spouse, kids, sermon preparation, rest and whatever other activities need to go into your week. Talk with church leaders and staff to get their support in honoring a more consistent and predictable schedule. Your family will appreciate it, too.
  • Get screened. A physical and psychological assessment can reveal some of the root causes of burnout and should not be overlooked. What we call “burnout” could also be anxiety and/or depression. Health issues could also be contributing. Dealing with the condition effectively begins with identifying it accurately.
  • Exercise. It may seem simple or insignificant, but one of the first defenses against depression and anxiety is exercise. And for the busy pastor, it is probably the first thing to get cut from the schedule. This is an essential discipline for not only your body, but your mind and even spirit, and it is worth every minute you put into it. Maximize your time by combining exercise with family interaction. Families need to play together, too.
  • Address marital issues. If there’s conflict at home, it will eat into the work of ministry, making life seem futile and frustrating. Pastors have a duty to lead the way in promoting healthy marriage. If that means counseling, then don’t delay. God provides resources to help us along the way and to show us how to love others better while growing personally. Seek out the help that you and your spouse need.
  • See a counselor. Getting outside help may also mean regular counseling for you. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re doing whatever you can to be as healthy as you can be and to continue the work God has called you to. It isn’t weakness, it’s strength.
  • Assess your position. Are you in the right role? Are you using your strengths or constantly trying to overcome your weaknesses? A personality or strengths assessment may reveal that you are simply not able to exercise your greatest gifts and talents in your current position, and there may be one that is better suited to you.

Dealing with burnout starts with honest and humble self-assessment and awareness. It takes work and courage, but it can lead to great reward and joy — not to mention restored relationships and a new energy and excitement for ministry. Do whatever you need to do to get to the root of the problem, and then use every resource available to get the help you need.

By Jacki Christopher

Learn More About: Stress And Anxiety: A Christian Perspective – Part 1