Here is a great word for pastors (and others) who struggle with burnout:
“When I find myself heading for burnout, more often than not I’ve lost the rhythms of rest and repentance and started to chase my idols. I take my sights off of Christ and become self-focused — simply put, I try to take God’s place on the throne.” (source unknown)
So I guess I would say, “Pastor, you are prone to burnout for good reason: the demands of ministry are endless and urgent and you lack the natural ability to self-regulate. Right now you need to stop and seek those in authority over you and a few trusted friends to tell you how they see your life out of balance.”
For me, that means asking questions about everything from physical exercise to sleep to prayer and relationships with my wife and children. Restoring a good work/life balance will help stem the tide of burnout, but if we’re being truthful, it will only get you to zero.
Mostly from my many failures, I have learned that I get right back to burnout unless I have intentionally created ways to see my sin more clearly and how that sin hurts others. I need constant reminders that my Father in heaven loves me and is singing over me because of what Christ has already done and not what I’m achieving in ministry. I need to trust in Christ’s righteousness that is given to me in justification rather than trying to create my own righteousness through my “success.” And I need to exercise faith that God is at work in my life and in ministry and it’s not up to me to accomplish everything.
This is precisely why ongoing gospel mentoring is so critical for our own staff and missionaries and how truly life-changing our discipling ministry has been to thousands of pastors over the years. More than anything, it helps you learn how to regularly meet with Jesus in this way.”
(From Bob Osborne, executive director, World Harvest Mission, see the whole discussion on Burnout here)
My friend good Crawford Loritts recommends that we “fly in tight formation with a faithful few.” But, as Osborne indicates in the interview, we need sinner-safe relationships to do this!
Thanks to Collin Hansen for providing this great interview at The Gospel Coalition.