Friday, November 8, 2013

20+ Ways to Experience Burnout in Ministry

This week, I would like to share some rather "tongue-in-cheek" thoughts with all my ministry friends and colleagues. If you are not a clergyperson yourself, please share this post with your minister or pastor for the sake of their personal sanity and well-being.

In light of our own human finitude we naturally all have certain limits as to what we are capable of doing and achieving as ministers, as much as we would sometimes like to deny this reality. When we foolishly attempt to exceed those limits, we are inevitably asking for trouble. So here are 20+ ways to experience burnout in ministry. 

If it is your desire to burn out in the ministry, please heed the following advice:

  1. Never say “no” to anybody when they ask you to do something for them or help out in some way.
  2. Consistently place the needs of the members of the congregation before your own family’s needs.
  3. Take on everybody’s problems you counsel or help as your own and be sure to take these issues home with you.
  4.  Fit as many speaking engagements into your schedule as you can and never turn down any invitations.
  5. Eat fatty and unhealthy foods, seldom take time for physical exercise, and avoid getting sufficient sleep.
  6. Never take a personal break from your work and avoid taking family vacations at all costs.
  7. Don’t waste your time with any personal hobbies or pursuing recreational interests. In other words, no fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, movies, bowling, woodworking, etc.
  8. Preach and teach every Sunday and Wednesday at every service and never take a break from the rotation.
  9. Avoid taking time to attend ministerial enrichment programs or lectureships, so you will be sure not to be encouraged or spiritually fed.
  10.  Compare yourself and your abilities on a regular basis to “big names" on the speaking circuit.
  11. Never take your spouse out on a date or weekend outing. In fact, it’s best to take them and your relationship for granted.
  12.  Answer the phone whenever it rings, either at the office or home, and especially while out enjoying time with your family. In other words, make yourself available 24/7 and 365 days per year.
  13. Involve yourself in multiple leadership positions within the community through school and civic organizations.
  14. Take every piece of criticism made about you and/or your family to heart.
  15. Try to please every single person in your congregation and expect everybody to like you.
  16.  Avoid taking time for personal Bible study, prayer, and spiritual renewal.
  17. Accept ministry positions where you are underpaid and over-worked.
  18. Develop a hostile and antagonistic relationship with the elders of your congregation.
  19. Allow members of the congregation to place you on a pedestal and to expect perfection from both you and your family.
  20.  Buy in to the idea that you are a hireling and not a true member of the congregation.
  21. Don’t spend time establishing and nurturing relationships with people outside of your congregation.
  22. Try to be “Superman” even though you don’t have a cape. Never ask for help for anything. After all, it will probably save you time to do it all “right” the first time, instead of correcting someone else’s “failed” attempt to help.