Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing his reflections and practical insights as a ministry leader on Greenelines, a new podcast. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


emotional-pressure-smallI heard the story again last week. A pastor I know announced his resignation. No moral failure. No severe crisis at the church. No major family problems. No sickness. He was simply burned out. That’s how he described it. He said he had gotten to the point that he was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other.

So he quit, without another job. His church family was stunned.

I admit I haven’t seen recent statistics on pastoral burnout but, at least anecdotally, it’s high. It seems that hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear another story of a burnout victim in pastoral ministry.

Why?

What is unique to this vocation that causes such a dramatic dropout rate? May I suggest seven reasons from the hundreds of cases I’ve known through the years?

  1. The 24/7 mentality. Many pastors can’t turn off work in their mind. Even on their days off, they are waiting for that next telephone call or next crisis. Thus, they never relax.
  2. Conflict. I often heard it said that conflict is not the problem; it’s how we handle conflict. That’s true to a point. But if church conflict and criticisms are ongoing, pastors wear down. They eventually burn out.
  3. Expectations. All pastors would be problem-free if they were omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Of course, no pastor can meet all the expectations of church members. But many try. And they burn out as a result.
  4. Unwillingness to let go. Several years ago I was with a pastor who was frantically trying to sort the mail that had just arrived. He was hurrying to go to his next meeting. I asked him why he didn’t let someone else take care of some of things he was trying to do. His blank stare was his answer. He quit ministry three months later and never returned.
  5. No friends. Many pastors fail to develop meaningful friendships, people with whom they can “let their hair down.” Without such outlets, burnout is more likely.
  6. Not suited for some tasks. This issue is similar to trying to meet everyone’s expectations. First, such attempts are physically impossible. Second, pastors are not equipped to do everything well. But many try and many fail.
  7. No life outside the church. I am amazed at the number of pastors who have no meaningful hobbies or recreational activities outside the church. I am less amazed when those pastors burn out and drop out.

Do you see these seven reasons often? What would you add or change? What can we do to help pastors avoid burnout?

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.

    Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

    Jentezen Franklin urges ministry leaders to be strong and courageous in dealing with these issues ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders