Hey Coach http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach Thu, 19 Jan 2017 03:50:10 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Models of Learning http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/18171-models-of-learning http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/18171-models-of-learning


To reach a new generation, we have to change the way we teach

Learning models are rapidly changing. This is because a contemporary generation processes life differently than the previous one. Many of us run the risk of becoming outdated and antiquated in our approach to teaching and equipping the church.

We should be asking ourselves not "Are we teaching?" but rather "Is anyone learning?"

New models of learning are changing in part because of the influences of a postmodern shift in culture and the proliferation of technology. Some models that have served us well in the past are now irrelevant and need to be discarded.

For most, the change will present a major paradigm shift in the way we currently perceive learning. What are some of the learning models that are shifting in America? How do we embrace and leverage them to reach a generation for Christ? Here are a few to consider:

1. From Greek to Hebraic. Most Western learning models are built upon the Greek method of education. This model says learning comes from the simple acquisition of information and knowledge.

The Hebraic model says one cannot learn something by the mere acquisition of information; rather, one learns by combining information with experience and participation. This is why Jesus called the disciples to "be with Him."

2. From monologue to dialogue. Jesus rarely taught through means of a monologue. When we study Jesus' methods, we find that most of His teaching, especially in the temple, turned into dialogue or a discussion. Why? Because adults learn best by processing and interacting with information. They perceive truth at a deeper level through interaction with the topic and with others.

Postmodern learners desire community and relationship in all areas of life, but especially in the classroom. They learn best by hearing others' views while assessing their own thoughts and experiences. Perhaps we, as teachers, need to open more conversational space instead of trying to fill it with our expert information.

3. From top down lecturing to personal discovery of truth. Studies show that adults learn on a deeper and more meaningful level when they discover truth for themselves. If this is true, then the discovery process itself becomes imperative. (And it's likely why the Bible documents Jesus asking more than 300 questions during His ministry.) Asking powerful questions forces one to process his inner life and engage truth.

We also must see a subtle shift from deductive to inductive preaching and teaching. This means we no longer start our messages with a statement of truth; rather, we seek to end up there. This forces discovery and seeking on the part of postmodern hearers and brings greater buy-in to the truth. I call it the Jesus Method.

The coaching model of learning embraces all these learning models and more. It seeks to come alongside the learner and aid him in personal discovery of the truth. This is done through various skills, including the ability to ask questions, listen intuitively, and offer support, encouragement and accountability. Not surprisingly, the Holy Spirit, as One sent alongside to help, operates in much the same way (see John 14:26).

Learning models are rapidly changing in the postmodern world. Given that, the question that begs an answer is: "Are you staying on the cutting edge, or running to keep up?"


A certified professional coach and trainer, JOHN CHASTEEN is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com

fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Wed, 17 Dec 2008 22:21:37 -0500
Wisdom From a Cliff http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/18130-wisdom-from-a-cliff http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/18130-wisdom-from-a-cliff You can find teachable moments in any situation.

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. It was a special day; my son had invited me to go rock climbing in the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. Soon we were on the road, bright and early. The fall foliage colored the boulder-dotted terrain with bright reds and unique yellows; the air was crisp and clean. A perfect day for climbing!

It was my first venture at such a challenge; however, my son, Andy, is an experienced and talented climber. After arriving at the park and packing up our gear, he led the way as we hiked 45 minutes across the granite hills and grass-covered prairies. We traversed by wild buffalo, deer and who knows what other kinds of critters, finally arriving at a rock formation called “The Lost Dome.” The Lost Dome is huge granite that sticks out of the southwestern Oklahoma topography like a sore thumb. Before I knew it, I was “on the wall” making my first-ever climb.

Wisdom often speaks to us in unusual places, so as a tribute to Andy, who is a great young man, I’d like to share some of the valuable lessons I learned that memorable day.

1. With proper coaching and encouragement you can accomplish great feats. I was a little intimidated as I looked up at the 100-foot granite wall daring me to just try to climb it. Andy coached me step by step, however, explaining the use of my equipment and helping me at each stage of the climb. Only with his assistance was climbing even remotely possible.

Lesson learned: We must have others to help us on the journey of life. We can’t get it done without them. In fact, all great people have great people in their lives. Relationships are important, aren’t they? Who are you connected with who can help you accomplish great feats?

2. Hard challenges are great morale boosters. I hate to admit it, but about 10 feet into the climb I was ready to give up. My hands hurt from the sharp granite; my toes, legs and arms were throbbing—and all in harmony. About that time some alarming thoughts begin to hound me: This is not good—a 53-year-old man hanging on the side of a cliff. But after about 30 minutes of taking it “one move at a time,” I finally made it to the top.

Lesson learned: Persistence pays great dividends. Hard challenges have the potential to propel us forward in life, and when they are accomplished, they’re great morale boosters. I remember feeling like I had accomplished something. As a matter of fact, I’m still pumped!

3. We all need comrades who will cheer us on. One thing I witnessed that day was that it seemed like all the climbers knew one another. Though they didn’t, camaraderie was in the air. On a different route that day, I got stuck about 70 feet into the climb. To my surprise, one of the fellow climbers scurried up the wall next to me and gave me a few pointers. Imagine that!

Lesson learned: God sends us comrades to cheer us on as we walk through life, those willing to climb alongside and help. This is where coaches come in. They come alongside to offer support and encouragement, and hold a person accountable.

Life is full of valuable lessons—teachable moments. Proverbs tell us that wisdom speaks from the streets at the place where the paths meet (see Prov. 8:1-3). Will I try climbing again? Sure. Will I become a pro? I doubt it. But I had a great time literally hanging with my son—all while learning some great life lessons .

A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com


fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Sat, 01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0400
Lasting Impact http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17768-lasting-impact http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17768-lasting-impact Take some tips from Barnabas and leave a legacy in the lives of others.

Would you like to make an impact felt long after you are gone? If so, coaching is for you. Coaching is one of the most effective ways to empower people and bring sustained transformation to their lives. Skilled coaches and mentors always leave lasting legacies.

Take Barnabas, for example. He was relatively unknown in his early years, just a Levite from Crete. But when his passion to encourage and coach others kicked in he became a respected voice in the burgeoning New Testament church. So profound was his impact that today to be called a “Barnabas” is one of the highest compliments you can pay a fellow believer.

So what can you do to make an impact on future leaders? Practicing a few simple Barnabas principles will help to transform your world.

1. Recognize the potential in others. Barnabas believed in people. Coaches do too. When no one would touch the newly converted Paul, Barnabas took him in and patiently coached him to greatness. Why? Because he saw potential in him that others overlooked.

Someone once asked hockey great Wayne Gretzky about his secret to success. “While others skated to where the puck was, I always skated to where I thought it was going,” he replied. Gretzky followed potential.

Envision where people are headed rather than focusing on where they are or where they have been. When we choose to believe in others, they automatically rise to the level of our expectations of them. Do you always see the negative traits in others? Or do you see their potential? Barnabas saw people’s potential.

2. Understand the power of relationships. You can never fulfill God’s plan for you without other people’s help. All great people have great people in their lives. Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten how to nurture real relationships. Perhaps that’s why we’re so attracted to the term connect these days. This buzzword has become the cry of our culture and offers a clue about one of our deepest unmet needs—the thirst for richer, more meaningful relationships.

Most people never learn the art of relationship building. But Barnabas did. He took time to invest in people. He understood the importance of building authentic and transparent relationships and used his skill to sharpen and hone the young apostle Paul.

Coaches are relationship-oriented. They are catalysts that initiate authentic relationships in order to create a culture where walls fall and openness is made easy.

3. Be a “linker.” If Barnabas couldn’t help you personally, he’d connect you with someone who could. Coaches are like that. They are natural linkers who place like-minded people together for a common cause. It’s a passion for them.

It takes good relationships with the right people to get to the next level. A good coach will always be thinking “us” rather than “me.”

So are you actively linking others with the proper people? Many leaders live in anticipation of that divine “connection” that will propel them into more effective ministry. A good coach can help them make that crucial transition.

Would you like to leave a legacy? Would you like the impact of your present ministry to bear fruit far into the future? Then begin to think like a coach. It’s never too late to start. Go ahead, be a Barnabas! You’ll be glad you did. And so will the others whose lives you will change.

A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.



fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Mon, 01 Sep 2008 00:00:00 -0400
Driving Force http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17443-driving-force http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17443-driving-force How to uncover and develop your core values.

We don't normally spend time contemplating our core values. Yet all of us consciously or subconsciously live by them. They are the driving force behind our lives.

Life coach Tony Stoltzfus defines a core value as "a distinctive set of core beliefs by which one measures his or her priorities in life." Values are an essential part of our lives; they play a key role in keeping our lives on track. When we clarify our values, we begin to lay down a plumb line for all our decisions and can navigate future crossroads in our lives.

Many of our core values don't originate from ourselves but were given to us by others hand-me-downs, if you please. Others form as we journey through life, while God uses these experiences and His Word to impart yet others. Although most of us seldom search out our core values, we all intrinsically desire to know them; it's a God-given desire, a lifelong search. God sets purpose in our hearts (see Eccl. 3:11).

So how can you recognize your core values? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you become more acquainted with them and begin to live your life accordingly.


  • Core values show up in the form of life patterns. Author and speaker Doug Fike says, "Life's patterns are what values look like when lived out in real life." A pattern is something you do consistently because you have a certain value. When you discern patterns that crop up in your life, both good and bad, you can begin to understand the underlying values behind them.


  • Core values can often be described in simple one- or two-word phrases. See if you can detect a value pattern in the following: Spirit-filled and led. Intimacy with God. Quiet time. Prayer. These are some of the short phrases I use to describe my own values on spiritual life.

    Take any category'marriage, personal development, family and jot down phrases, images or a short series of words to describe the way you feel about it. These are your values. Keep working on them, refining and rephrasing them for a more defined set of core values.


  • Core values are discovered by scrutinizing your negative responses to life. Ask yourself, "What makes me wince? What upsets me?" Your answers will help reveal your core values. Do you scorn tardiness? Then you probably have a core value for promptness and respect for others. Do you despise waste and misuse? Then it's obvious you value thriftiness and frugality. The same assessment works in the spiritual, emotional, vocational and physical realms.


  • Core values are often discovered by noticing your energy flow and effectiveness in life. God created you to operate according to your design. That doesn't mean you can't operate outside this, simply that you function best within certain parameters. Staying outside your design produces drag, which is an aviation term describing the friction caused by external forces working against the airplane. Reduce the drag, speed up the plane; increase the drag, slow down the plane. This works in every realm.

    So do you know your core values? Are you working within your design? Learn to reduce your drag and you'll improve your energy flow. You can begin by practicing the above suggestions in a few key areas of your life (e.g., family and children, work, church and ministry, financial stewardship). You'll quickly see how important core values really are.


    A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.


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    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Tue, 01 Jul 2008 00:00:00 -0400
    Listen Up! http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17079-listen-up http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/17079-listen-up Discovering the keys to meaningful conversation.

    Effective ministry requires learning the fine art of listening. Jesus specialized in this. He not only listened, He also understood. He was a master at entering into a person's world through competent listening and powerful communication.

    If we hope to follow Jesus' example, where do we begin? Undoubtedly certain personality types have a deeper propensity for listening. Yet I believe listening is a skill that can be learned, developed and honed. With that in mind, here are a few tips for improving your listening skills.

    1. Be fully present when engaging in conversation. True listening is the art of fully engaging someone—that is, being fully present during the conversation. Such practice is rare in today's world. Offering your full attention and presence in a conversation is a powerful force that has life-changing consequences for the person being engaged. It demands a measure of self-denial, as well as learning and much practice.

    In truth, listening is ministry. When you fully engage in conversation with others, they're not only heard, they also feel more affirmed, valued and supported. When total engagement is not offered, however, the opposite is true. So are you fully present in your conversations?

    2. Listen, don't solve. As a trained life coach, I've learned that the No. 1 distraction to true listening is the urge to offer solutions. This often distorts communication because it superimposes your agenda upon the conversation and sidetracks from the real issues. Pastors have a natural desire to help (read: fix) people. But what usually happens is that we create people who become dependent upon us to do their thinking, thus creating followers not leaders.

    When was the last time you listened in a supportive role? Can you imagine the impact this would have on your teen, spouse, or anyone who needs a listening ear? Listen, merely to support.

    3. Listen with your body. Active listening involves letting the other person know you are totally engaged by sending signals with your body language. Offer a frequent nod or lean into the conversation while maintaining eye contact. Conversation is a two-way street; you either squelch or encourage it with your body language. People aren't ignorant; they can read between the lines. Do you give clues to others that you are listening? Be an active listener.

    4. Learn to listen intuitively. Look for red flags in the conversation, signals that raise concerns. It could be as simple as a hesitation in the conversation, or as pronounced as tears or heated emotions. Whatever invokes something inside the person could possibly be an intuition indicator.

    Intuition indicators usually need to be explored. They are clues, often leading the way to an area that needs processing or probing. I've learned that if you listen long enough, people generally will reveal areas of pain or need. Often it is in a covert manner.

    We must learn to spot the clues. If we don't, we'll always catch ourselves saying, "I never saw that coming." Have you learned to listen intuitively? Most haven't. Author and lecturer Margaret J. Wheatley was on to something big when she said: "I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation." Could it really be that simple? Whether it is or not, powerful conversations do have the potential to change lives.

    A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.


    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Thu, 01 May 2008 00:00:00 -0400
    Principles Distilled http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16776-principles-distilled http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16776-principles-distilled Are you learning the art of extracting lessons from life?

    This year I'm celebrating 30 years of ministry. As you can see, I started early. I was converted at the age of 19 and had preached my first message by the time I was 22. It seems like only yesterday.

    So what's all the hoopla about 30? I suppose there's nothing really special about the number, other than recently I've sensed the Lord challenging me to prepare for the next 30 years of ministry. Now, I'm not brash enough to assume my encounter with God means I'm promised 30 more years. But do I believe He's asked me to look back on my life to distill valuable principles that can be passed on to fellow travelers.

    Unfortunately, most Western-world thinkers are unaccustomed to the idea of distilling life's experiences into key lessons. We'd rather wipe our foreheads and say, "Whew, I'm glad that's over!" Consequently, we're forced to repeat similar experiences over and over again before we "get it." Gleaning from life is much better as you learn from both the positive and negative.

    Here are a few of the principles I've distilled—conclusions that may help you. In 30 years of ministry I've learned that ...

    1. God's will generally moves slower than you think it should. God rarely operates on the same timetable we do. Just ask Abraham, Job or anyone who has walked with Him for a long time. If this is true—and it is—then biblical patience and flexibility are great virtues. Do you have the biblical quality of patience that's required to inherit God's promises (see Heb. 6:10)? Whoa, partner. Slow down!

    2. Great people have great people in their lives. You can never be all God has destined you to be without great people in your life—people who aren't impressed with who you are, but who will tell you the truth and not back down. Do you have these kinds of people in your life?

    3. Knowing God is a journey. I've found that God is so awesome that He can't be known all at once. He's bigger than an experience, more substantial than an event, and He can't be captured merely by our minds or feelings. So knowing God is a ride, a journey. Are you ready for it?

    4. Balance in your personal life is crucial to longevity in ministry. We all desire balance in life; few seem to find it. Balance begins in your personal life and flows to all other areas. If you can't seem to get it together, how can you lead others to do so? This isn't a plea for perfectionism, just a call of priority for those in ministry. Start by focusing at home. Continue elsewhere.

    5. Serving God is not an automatic inoculation against life's ills and woes. Sometimes life comes at you hard, fast and furious. Injustice seems to be one of life's greatest mysteries. Job was stumped by it; Solomon wrote volumes trying to explain it—all to no avail. So don't be surprised when the wind blows and the rain falls. Stay positive and you'll outlast it (see Rom. 8:28).

    6. Personal development is necessary to stay relevant. It is the practice of periodically allowing God to reinvent who you are and redefine your usefulness. Most leaders sidestep the issue of personal development. It's too demanding and it's hard work! However, every forward-thinking leader must pay the price.

    What lessons are you distilling from life? Lady wisdom is always speaking, especially to those who will listen (see Prov. 8). So let every life experience be a learning one. Go ahead, distill a few principles and pass them on to fellow travelers. You'll be glad you did.

    A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.]]>
    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Sat, 01 Mar 2008 00:00:00 -0500
    Embracing a Silent Revolution http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16463-embracing-a-silent-revolution http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16463-embracing-a-silent-revolution As coaching in the church quietly emerges, so do new paradigms.

    Coaching continues to build up steam in today's business world, but it's also gaining popularity among traditional Christian organizations. Groups are implementing it into their core value systems and putting it into practice from the boardroom to the break room. Denominations are exploring coaching methodologies to better undergird their pastors and ministers for 21st-century effectiveness. Christian leaders worldwide are also embracing it for new and better methods of training and equipping.


    In essence, a silent undercurrent of preparation is now evolving that will release an army of coaches into the body of Christ worldwide. How will this shape the church? Will it really make a difference or is it just another passing trend? Ultimately, will the acquiescence of the coaching movement compel the church to also adopt its strikingly new paradigms?


    Christian coaching leaders such as Tony Stoltzfus and Joseph Umidi certainly believe so. But to better answer those quetsions, let's examine some of the new paradigms that must be embraced as Christian coaching begins to establish itself in the church.

    The transition starts with the current generation of 20th-century church leaders. It's a known fact that most leaders from the previous century operated from an "advice giving" paradigm. Advice giving is good and does have its place; however, the new coaching paradigm is about pushing the client to find answers rather than supplying them for that person.


    • The old mind-set says, "You can't solve this without me," thus producing followers rather than leaders. The new coaching paradigm is built upon the premise that leaders are responsible to steward their own lives.


    • The old model says, "Change is a product of information and knowledge. Given the right options, anybody can change." The new coaching paradigm says, "Change is the function of support, encouragement and accountability, rather than merely passing on information."


    • The old mind-set says, "Most people will never get it right without my help." The new way says, "I believe in people."


    • The old model says, "As a leader, I have to fix everybody." The new coaching paradigm says, "I am not responsible to fix everyone. All have a responsibility to steward their own lives."


    • The old mind-set says, "Here's what I'd do if I were you." The new coaching model says, "Let me ask you powerful questions and help you discover what to do."


    Are you beginning to see the new paradigms that must evolve to spawn a coaching movement in the body of Christ? Outdated and unbiblical leadership philosophies must begin to shift. New, biblical methodologies must be embraced.


    Jesus' main method of leadership was the coaching model. He practiced a Hebraic model of relational learning, coupled with real-life experiences. His answers often came in the form of powerful questions. He broke through barriers by being authentic rather than using His position. He modeled that which He wanted His followers to discover. We must do the same.


    Many in the church world believe the coaching movement is here to stay. I happen to be one of them. This movement may not take the church world by storm; rather, it will influence little by little as a silent force, transforming one life at a time.


    A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.


    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Tue, 01 Jan 2008 00:00:00 -0500
    Taking Care of Business http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16146-taking-care-of-business http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/16146-taking-care-of-business Effective ministry starts with controlling your own schedule.

    In the late '70s Bachman-Turner Overdrive bemoaned the woes of crowded schedules and heavy workloads with the hit song "Takin' Care of Business." The tune has resurfaced lately as a cultural mantra, mainly because it addresses an issue with which most of us struggle: controlling our calendars. As ministers, there's always another phone call to make, meeting to attend or issue to resolve. Consequently, one of the most important things we can do is to learn the art of scheduling our lives.

    Obviously, life can never be programmed or fit into a nice, orderly package. But many of the stresses that cause us angst can be reduced or eliminated by simply developing better scheduling and planning skills. Here are a few suggestions for easing the load.

    1. Develop your life according to a plan. God is a god of schedule. His first act recorded in Scripture was creation, which reveals to us that He is a god of order and purpose. He didn't try to accomplish everything in one day, and neither should you. God had an agenda for certain times of the day (e.g., evening and morning). He scheduled the seasons—an indication that certain things were to happen at certain times.

    Have you learned to schedule? Revisit Ecclesiastes 3:1. Don't be bound by a schedule; just begin to use one and take charge of it.

    2. Schedule routine into your life. To develop a routine means you learn to follow the same pattern frequently. It literally means to walk the same path regularly. Everyone needs some degree of healthy routine.

    Discipline and healthy habits are the beginning point. Healthy habits, when followed persistently, become routines. Routine keeps you from becoming unbalanced in your life. Most of us get caught up in the activities we enjoy and shun the less desirable ones. Routine prevents this from happening. Learn to schedule important events into your life until they become routine. Daniel practiced this principle by praying three times a day until it became his custom—his routine (see Dan. 6:9).

    3. Get comfortable periodically using the word no. Leadership is demanding and requires huge amounts of time and effort. But no one is called to do it all. Leaders must learn to examine their commitments regularly and adjust according to godly principles. I'm not talking about a resignation of duty or responsibility, but rather learning to say no to too many extracurricular activities. Have you learned to say no without feeling guilty, or are you strictly a yes person?

    4. Limit your time-wasters. Unfortunately, all of us have "time-wasters" integrated into our lives. From sunup to sundown, gidgets and gadgets beg for our attention. If we could name the big three time-wasters, they would probably be: high-tech innovation (e.g., Internet, TV and other electronic gadgets); excessive attention to hobbies (I'm not saying hobbies are bad); and disorganization. Wasted time can never be recouped. You have to guard your time.

    Based on these tips, how are you "takin' care of business"? The song may be 30 years old, but it still seems to fit, doesn't it? As leaders, we must have a plan to deal with the crowded schedule that forever shows up in our planners. It won't just go away on its own.

    Becoming a more effective minister begins with controlling your own life. You must be intentional with the way you schedule your personal and public life. Why not start today?

    A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.]]>
    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Thu, 01 Nov 2007 00:00:00 -0400
    To Burnout and Back http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/15391-to-burnout-and-back http://ministrytodaymag.com/hey-coach/15391-to-burnout-and-back Pastors are particularly prone to burnout because they have trouble separating their professional and personal lives. Are you at risk?

    Burnout—that's something that happens to other people in ministry, right? At least that's what I thought until a few years ago when it happened to me.

    Like most good ministers, I was living my emotional life on the edge. An overcrowded schedule, unguarded private time and very few boundaries contributed to a severe case of burnout that eventually pushed me over the edge. I spiraled down into a state of clinical depression that lasted over a year and a half.

    What did I do? I kept it hidden until I could hide it no longer. Finally, I sought help and found it. Fortunately, it never displaced me from ministry, but it easily could have. Needless to say, I'm on the backside of it, and I lived to tell my story.

    Burnout is a serious problem in America today, particularly for clergy and professional people. It is primarily a recent malady caused by the busyness of modern-day society.

    Burnout is a physical, mental and emotional response to constant levels of stress. When the body and mind are relentlessly strained, unusual levels of emotional and physical fatigue develop. If not attended to, it can lead to many unhealthy emotional and physical responses—and even sin.

    Here are a few pointers to help with burnout:

    1. It doesn't happen overnight. For me, it was an accumulation of many years of living on the edge. I've learned that the very nature of ministry causes most ministers to live constantly on the verge of burnout. A heart to serve people, coupled with the pressure to succeed, sets ministers up for this malady. It is important to recognize the early warning signs of burnout. Here are just a few:

    • A constant feeling of being emotionally, spiritually and physically drained
    • An overwhelming resentment about your workload or life in general, or a continued state of frustration
    • Fatigue, high blood pressure, and regular headaches
    • A marked loss of appreciation for people
    • Minor decisions become major issues.

    Any of these symptoms sound familiar?

    2. Imbalance between vocational life and private world can lead to burnout. Ministers and professional people must learn to find balance. Most want it; few achieve it. The balance of work, play and spiritual life is a must.

    Many ministers have not taken charge of their personal lives. They build no "margins" into their lives, putting themselves at great risk. The question is: have you learned to balance your busy life? Many good books have been written on the topic. I recommend Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald and Stress Less by Dr. Don Colbert.

    3. Talk to someone about your stress–today. For me, this was difficult to do. I mistakenly felt I couldn't share my problems with anyone, especially my superiors. It might displace me from ministry, I thought. Besides, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone: friends, ministry colleagues and, in the beginning, even my wife. After all, I was a "successful minister," I shouldn't be burned out and depressed.

    Unfortunately, many ecclesiastical systems are structured to save and preserve the system at the expense of its constituents. I believe we must address these issues and create new structures. Good coaching relationships can really help. Yes, burnout is real, but it's also preventable. What are you doing to avoid it or recover from it? I hope this helps.

    John Chasteen is a certified professional coach and trainer with Lifeforming Leadership Coaching. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.]]>
    fake+John_Chasteen@charismamedia.com (John Chasteen) Hey Coach Sun, 01 Jul 2007 00:00:00 -0400