Dear Hurting Pastor

This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.  

Dear Lead Pastor,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often.  I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year.  Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING.  I’m sorry for all those anonymous I’m displeased with your leadership notes you found under your office door on Mondays.  I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people.  I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up.  You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too.  I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.

I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down.  You should have never been put there.  That position is reserved for Jesus.  He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.

In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you.  They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical.  Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor.  Now that would have been helpful.  I’m sorry that did not happen.

Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church.  As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you.  The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed.  That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns.  Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards.  But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.

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Have you left the ministry?  Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?

Please hear me on this.  If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes.  Take charge of leading by example.  Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week.  Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings.  And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor!  Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.

If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient.  The church desperately needs healthy pastors.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  – Galatians 6:9

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership Burnout: 4 Signs To Watch For

“Leadership is a marathon, NOT a sprint.”

You’ve heard this before.  Church leadership requires a healthy pace.  You and I;  we’re not Superman.  We’re definitely not God.  So we need to stop living our lives like we are.

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As leaders in the Church, you and I have a huge responsibility.  This is all the more reason we must be attentive to our spiritual, physical, and emotional health regularly.

Here are 4 signs to beware of:

Short temper | Anyone ever accused you of being snappy?  Maybe your spouse or a co-worker?  And when they address it doesn’t it make us even SNAPPIER?  When we have been going full throttle for too long, anything (anyone) that appears to be a speed bump in our way ends up really irritating us.  Watch out for this.

Fatigue | Staying up too late and getting up too early.  Have you ever said to yourself, “People survive on 3-4 hours of sleep a night all the time.  I just need to push through this busy season.”  Two thoughts here.  1. That is simply justifying an unhealthy lifestyle.  2. If you’re in church leadership, guess what?  It’s always a busy season!

Told by others | This one usually stings a bit.  And the reason is usually because the person holding us accountable is someone we have a close relationship with.  A spouse, close mentor, or good friend.  That’s why it stings…because you and I know they’re right!  Here are a few things I’ve personally been told: “Hey man, what’s up? You’ve been a bit distant lately.”   “You have not checked in on me and how my family has been doing in quite a while.  I miss that.”   Are you O.K? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Isolation | This one is huge!  Beware when you reach the point of dreading being around anyone.  You stop going to Small Group with your spouse during the week.  You tend to be the last one in at staff meetings and the first one to leave.  Your list of friends you can confide in has diminished to zero.

If you can relate to any of these today, please….talk to someone.  Modify your schedule.  Take a true Sabbath rest.  Ask your spouse to pray for/with you.

If this isn’t you but you know someone who is in this place, do them a favor.  Offer some loving accountability.  Share this post with them.  Offer to pray over them.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut on this.  Leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

3 Ways to Continue Leading When Life Gets Difficult

Leaders don’t have the option of quitting when life gets difficult. 

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We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  Loss of a loved one.  Wrecked the car.  Unwanted medical diagnosis.  Family drama.  You name it…we have all experienced an untimely life difficulty right in the middle of a season when more than usual is demanded of us as leaders.  It never fails.  Maybe it’s an outreach event, speaking engagement, or project deadline.  Or maybe it’s launching a new ministry or planting a church (that one’s mine).

So, how do we continue leading through a challenging season without losing our sanity, credibility, and family?

Here are 3 critical steps I’ve used recently.

1.  Evaluate | No matter how much you feel that you don’t have even 5 minutes to yourself, take time to stop, breathe, and evaluate your current situation.  Inventory the season you’re in so that everything is on the table.  Otherwise, we fall into the trap of simply running around putting out fires as our task lists seem to multiply like Gremlins (you might not get that reference if you’re under 25).

2.  Adjust | Now that you’re breathing again and can hopefully look at the big picture objectively, there are likely some adjustments that need to be made.  Say this with me, “I am not Superman!”  Furthermore, you are not Jesus either.  Now, take 1 to 3 items off your plate.  Don’t have a coronary.  I’m not saying this is forever…just long enough to get you through this season ALIVE.

3.  Move forward | If you have actually done #2 and taken the ‘appropriate’ items off, you should be feeling a huge weight lifted.  Next, simply inform those people who need to know and how this adjustment might effect them.  This does two things.  It provides others clear communication about you as a leader and how you are prioritizing your time.  It also builds in accountability.  When others know our plans it helps us actually stick to those plans.  We know they will be checking up on us.

What would you add?  What has worked for you.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!