Avoid the Ministry Fizzle

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).

Dave Wiedis in “Ten Rules to Avoid Ministry Burnout” writes, “When burnout runs its course, pastors often report that they have no initiative or drive, little energy, don’t want to visit with people, and just want to be left alone. Other symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability, and disillusionment with people, loss of confidence, a feeling of being mistreated, and feelings of detachment. Of course, with the intense and unrelenting demands of ministry, there is a spiral effect: Burnout causes inefficiency, inefficiency creates increasing demands, demands create pressure and concomitant guilt for not achieving desired goals, added pressure and guilt causes stress, stress causes a depletion of energy and drive, which in turns causes inefficiency.”

Here’s his ten rules:

  1. Take heed to yourself.
  2. Cultivate dependence on God. Your ministry and calling come from Him. Maintain your personal disciplines.
  3. Lower your expectations. Learn to say, “No.” Delegate.
  4. Learn to balance your life and pace yourself.
  5. Create time to get away for refreshing. Factor solitude, recreation, and refreshment into work. Put them on your calendar. When asked for a meeting at that time honestly say, “I have an appointment.” That’s exercising good stewardship.
  6. Cultivate interests that are not directly related to your work as a minister.
  7. Develop a sense of humor.
  8. Cultivate proper diet, exercise, and sleep patterns.
  9. Seek close fellowship with pastors and others with whom you can share your burdens and concerns. Oftentimes, it takes a pastor to help a minster. Yet, we often to see ourselves in competition with one another rather than on the same team. Remember, the ministerial body is not designed to compete with one another but to complete one another.
  10. Get help if needed. Meet with a biblical counselor to get insight on your life.

Satan is fully aware that “if you smite the shepherd, the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7).

Avoid ministry fizzle today!

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Checklist on Ministry Pressure Releasers

Bill Scheidler in “The Pressures of Ministry Life” feels ministers should be involved in:

  1. Pacing
  2. Balance
  3. Delegation
  4. Rest
  5. Peer-level relationships
  6. Prayer support
  7. Accountability
  8. Growth opportunities
  9. Maintenance of personal disciplines

Minister, go through the checklist and score how well you are doing with pressure releasers. Looks like a good place to start making some serious new year’s resolutions.

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The Honeymoon is Over!

I recently had the privilege of speaking at a ministry family retreat in the Atlantic District. It was light-hearted. Sometimes, laughter is the medicine the doctor orders. Here is one of the stories I found on the Web that speaks to some of the pressures of ministry.

How does a pastor know when the pastoral honeymoon is over? Here goes:

When the flood of dinner invitations is reduced to a trickle and the menus switch from sirloin to burgers, you know the honeymoon between you and your congregation is over.

In the beginning you reign from your pedestal, feeling invincible. The first tremors are so subtle that you ask, ‘Did I imagine that?’ Then the pedestal begins to rock as enthusiastic handshakes and vigorous pats on the back are replaced by cordial smiles and forced praise for the ‘fine’ sermon you preached.

You tiptoe, you dance, you flail your arms, but you eventually topple. And the worse part is, you never saw it coming – just like the last time. See if you have overlooked these warning signs from a disgruntled congregation.

  • You return from vacation to find the visiting preacher’s name on your mailbox.
  • Your church is about to split, and neither group wants you.
  • Shut-ins pull the window shades and pretend that they aren’t home when you come to visit.
  • Mom moves her membership letter to another church.
  • You’re told that God is calling you to the mission field – now!
  • You are cast as a donkey in the Christmas cantata.
  • Your wife moves her membership letter to another church.
  • The trustees have been marching around your house the last six days praying and carrying lanterns.
  • Your secretary starts sending out your resume’.
  • The congregation forces members of the pulpit committee to wear sackcloth and make a public apology.
  • Church members start referring to you in the past tense.
  • Your ‘love offering’ is a two-for-one coupon at Ponderosa.
  • You show up at church on Monday morning to discover that the locks have been changed.