Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Clint Thomas a Licensed and Certified Therapist. They are going to talk about how church leaders can expose areas of burnout or avoid it all together.
This month’s theme for The Leadership and The Church podcast coincides with October being Pastor Appreciation Month. Many are aware that the burnout rate for pastors is too high. Researchers claim that as many as 40% of pastors were on the verge of burnout prior to the pandemic, and now the rate is even higher.
One article claimed that across all denominations, over 1,700 pastors are leaving the ministry per month, creating a shortage of pastors across the country. Is this an issue we can solve this issue in just four, 20 minute podcasts? Probably not. Can we raise awareness of the problem and give some tangible, actionable, steps to help the church do better? Absolutely.
Our host wants in know, in his work as a Christian counselor, working work with pastors over the past 20 years, are the industry stats that he just quoted even close to being true? Our guest answered that people in general have a higher stress level than ever before. So Clint is assuming that translates over to Pastors as well.
Symptoms of Burn-out:
According to our guest, here are a few areas that if you feel this way, you may be experiencing burn out:
- When your passion starts to slip, and your passion is why you started
- When work feels really hard, and your trying really hard
- When stress is already at a high level, and you haven’t left the house
- When you are dreading seeing someone walk through the door
Relief vs. Restoration
Our host points out that in our culture today, we hear a lot about “self-care.” At times it seems almost to a point where some might say that we are going overboard into selfishness or self-focus or self-indulgence.
Borrowing from John Eldredge, our guest says that when we are moving from looking from relief versus restoration. (Check out his book, Resilient.) Are you looking for junk food or a good meal? Jesus was a great example of restoration, he goes off by himself to pray. Plus, having a support system that encourages that, through counseling, elder board, other pastor friends, etc.
Quick fix (relief) versus the long haul (restoration). Finding a hobby that helps restore is where you should find the balance, stewardship your body. Clint states that “The better I take care of myself, the longer I’m in ministry, the more efficient I am in the long run.”
Stewardship is the 360 degree approach, says our host. We will learn more about that in the upcoming episode.
“Resilience is what helps takes care of stress.”– Clint Thomas
Our host asks “What are the steps to work from relief to restoration to resilience?”
According to our guest, breaking the isolation is the first step. Find a pastor friend, spiritual director, or counselor. Being open to feedback is another way to see you may be near burnout. Your friend might be able to see the signs in your life better than you could see them.
Our encouragement from both our host and guest, counseling is not a weakness, problem, or expense; but as a life-line. God could use to put you back in your resilience state. Sometimes you need another brain to access new networks in your own brain, says the licensed counselor.
Another great idea from our guest is 30 minutes of exercise, three days a week. He mentions this is the best way to avoid or get off Zoloft. Proper sleep on a regular basis, proper boundaries between tasks and quiet, setting up appointments that you want to be a part of. All those things add to your stress bucket, and you have to watch how full your bucket is getting.
If your bucket is already nearing full and a trauma of a congregant comes to you, you physically don’t have the necessary room to deal with the situation. You need to go back to those restoration practices. Otherwise, you will be tempted to go toward relief. And relief can often be a slippery slop towards sin.
Client leaves us with this final thought for listeners: “Assess in their life, what is the one thing that helps them truly get connected to their relationship to God. And that relationship with God that provides them hope. How they experience their daily walk with God is the most important part of resilience.” If we don’t get that part right, it’s going to be hard for us to do ministry for Him.
Join us next week for part two in our Ministry and Staff Care series.
Special thanks to our guest, Clint Thomas, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this first episode in Ministry and Staff Care series.