The statistics are clear – churches are closing their doors and ministers are being sidelined at an overwhelming pace. Ministry can be frustrating and tends to wear on the mind and body. Once this feeling of failure begins to overwhelm, the end result of burnout is sure to follow.
Burnout comes from a variety of sources, many of which are avoidable. Whether you are new to ministry or you have been serving for years, you have to make effective adjustments in your walk to minimize the risk of burning out. There are many ways to strengthen your walk with Christ and fight against burnout. Consider the below tips to minimize the risk in your ministry.
Cultivate lasting friendships
So most of us are familiar with the Biblical principle of Proverbs 27:17 (iron sharpens iron.) However, I most often hear this verse quoted in reference to ministry friends enhancing one another’s skill-sets. While this is an excellent application of this verse, there is much greater value in strong Biblical friendships than just teaching one another how become better ministers. Ministry friendships should penetrate deep into heart of a minister and encourage him when nothing else can.
Ministry friendships are not only encouraging, but also necessary. Just as God is a communal Being, He created us to exist dependent upon relationships. He never intended for us to minister in a vacuum – we need one another along the way.
Keep your spouse close
While this is similar to the previous tip, it differs because of the nature of your relationship with your spouse. In ministry, your relationship with your spouse is paramount. Yet, too many ministers keep their spouse at “arms length” during times of trouble. This neglect can be dangerous and damaging to your marriage relationship.
Your spouse must be your closest ally. Her opinion is invaluable and you can’t make it through times of difficultly with her. Nurture your relationship during times of peace and you’ll be better prepared for seasons of turmoil. However, as a side note be careful not to overwhelm your spouse with senseless stresses. There is a fine balance between staying close to your spouse and causing her unnecessary anxiety.
Set short-term goals to achieve small wins
Whenever I sense a difficult season is approaching, I prepare myself by evaluating my current situation. One of the most effective ways I’ve found to endure the storm without burning out is by setting near-sighted, achievable goals. These goals will help you stay focused on what matters – the Gospel.
Long-term goals are important as well. However, in times of great pressure your peripheral vision can become so badly clouded by the worries of the day that you can barely see past the moment, let alone next year. Short-term goals will allow you to experience small wins that will ultimately lead to big wins. Let these milestones propel through your time of stress and uncertainty.
Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Doctor of Ministry degree program. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.