In my 20+ years of studying churches in North America, I’ve watched far too many pastors and church leaders burn out, sometimes leading to moral failure. Based on my interviews with others who’ve walked this path, here are some steps to move in that direction if you want to become that next burned out leader.
- Do all the work yourself. No one else can do it as well as you can, so why waste time by delegating the work to them?
- Get so consumed with internal work that you stop evangelizing. Spend your ministry putting out fires in the church. Let somebody else invest in lost persons and see God save souls.
- Find no time to be alone with God. Your job keeps you busy almost 24 hours a day, it seems, so let your sermon preparation be your time with God.
- Base your vision on somebody else’s success. Read books written by successful pastors. Go to conferences. Then adapt everything in your church to somebody else’s ministry.
- Focus on a few church leaders, and do whatever it takes to keep them happy. After all, they have the most power and influence in the church. It makes sense to please them and meet their expectations.
- Don’t listen to anybody. Even if you have family members or friends who lovingly encourage you to take better care of yourself, don’t listen. They don’t understand the weight you bear as a church leader.
- Get out of shape. Eat out a lot, try everybody’s dessert at fellowship dinners, and don’t exercise. Being a good church leader doesn’t leave enough time to go to the gym.
- Always see the negative side. Somebody has to see the full picture, so be that person. There’s always some negative behind any good thing that happens in ministry.
- Seclude yourself. Relationships in the church are time-consuming. They’re risky. Instead of investing in people, let your office become your safe place.
- Refuse to take a day off. Sure, the church wants you to take some time off – but you’re too committed to do that. You might even make sure others know that you never take time off.
- Threaten to quit most Mondays. Like today. If you let yourself get discouraged every Monday, your fall into burnout won’t be as painful because it won’t be a long one.
- Don’t admit that you’re burning out. If you find yourself in this list at all, just ignore it. You’ve got ministry to do.
Let us know if we can pray for you.