In Finishing Well in Life & Ministry, Bill Mills & Craig Parro define burnout this way,
The point at which a pastor, church leader, or missionary gives up, unable or unwilling to continue in the ministry.¹
The daily pressures of ministry can sometimes overwhelm a Christian leader and leave them feeling worn out and without energy to carry on. With the pressures of ministerial leadership, all Christian workers are susceptible to burnout. This is true across the board for pastoral ministry, music ministry, media ministry, and youth ministry.
Burnout can be experienced in a variety of ways. Because our bodies, souls, minds, and spirits are integrated parts of a greater whole, the following types of burnout often come together and have a compounding effect on each other:
Thom Rainer recently surveyed a group of pastors who had experienced burnout or symptoms of burnout. He asked what helped them avoid burnout and rebound from the dark feelings associated with burnout. The results shared twelve typical responses, shown below from most common to least:4
Like any sickness or condition, ministry burnout is easier to prevent than to treat. Realigning your life and ministry to follow the twelve above ideas will greatly help you persevere and feel refreshed. Another option that will refresh your heart and strengthen your handling of the Scriptures is the WordPartners training program, which is a fellowship of pastors centered around God’s Word.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Finishing Well in Life & Ministry by Bill Mills & Craig Parro
Burnout is inevitable. Apart from the sustaining presence of God, the pressures of ministry are more than any man or woman can bear. Learn from Elijah, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus. This book will help you, so that, like Jesus, you will be able to declare to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
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