There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout.
I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout, and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.
So I asked them the obvious question: What did you do to reverse the dark spiral of burnout? The question was open-ended, so they could respond with as many answers as they desired. When it was all said and done, I tabulated 12 different responses from the 17 pastors. Obviously, many of them gave similar answers.
Read any leadership book today and within the first few pages you’ll hear about the critical function of vision in your organization. To lead effectively without a shared vision is simply not possible.
But sharing the vision takes skill. And sewing vision into the hearts of those I lead is a skill I continue to refine.
Recently, our fpKIDS team worked together to craft 5-to-6 simple, vision-driven phrases. Why? It’s because our greatest opportunity to connect with volunteers and parents is on the weekend … amidst the hustle and bustle of church services.
Any church that doesn’t change in response to the change in culture, community or context will eventually cease to exist. Any church that wants to stay around and keep its doors open will make constant and subtle changes along the way.
How should that change take place?
1. In response to a new “God vision.” God cares about those perishing in your community far more that you and your church do. So God is all-in for the changes necessary to see as many as possible come to Him. He will give a fresh vision to accomplish that to the heart of a humble and passionate leader.
“I know better.”
It’s a simple message backed up by simple behaviors and a better knowledge of life or pursuit. In many contexts, you wouldn’t think twice about it.
A mom says it to a naïve child mesmerized by red-hot fire. Tiger Woods addresses you on how to get lift from a golf ball in a sand trap. B.B. King shows you a trick to get the guitar sound you want. Bill Gates says, “I have a new technology idea.”
The normal response in the face of greater knowledge and insight is to listen, learn and apply. Their knowledge transcends your own, and only a fool would deign to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I got this one.”
I love young leaders. Catalyst exists to help equip young leaders, especially those under 40. I’ve invested a significant part of my life into connecting, gathering, inspiring and equipping young leaders.
But this is a tribute to the leaders over 40 who so many of us under 40 too often think “don’t really understand what’s going on anymore.”
So to all of my young, passionate, ready-to-change-the-world peers who are under 40:
SIT down, SHUT UP, and LISTEN!
In my talks with pastors and ministry leaders, I hear some repeated themes. One common theme is that they have a story of a failed leadership experience. It might have been their first church or the church experience that went bad. Or, many times, it’s their current ministry, and that’s the reason for our conversation.
They grew (or are growing) from the time, but looking back, they wish they had known then what they know now. You’ve probably got some of those learning experiences too. It may have been an incident or the entire time in that ministry, but there were critical errors that kept you and the church from accomplishing all God had for you, errors in leading. Why don’t we learn from each other?