UPDATE: SKYLINE, SEVEN, MULTISITE AND BABIES!

A MINISTRY UPDATE: ONE CHURCH, THREE LOCATIONS AND BABIES EVERYWHERE!

It is with great excitement, anticipation, and a tremendous sense of responsibility that I have accepted the role of Sr. Pastor at Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego. I will remain the Sr. Pastor of Seven San Diego Church as well. You may wonder how. On September 9 we announced that we were growing and expanding and that Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego was considering making me Sr. Pastor, which included Seven San Diego Church as part of this plan. In other words, while I’ll technically be Sr. Pastor of two churches the reality is we will have the same vision, mission, values, and outreach focus at both churches. So, we will become ONE church over time. It will take time to transition and for everyone to catch the vision but over time we will see the vision come to fruition. You can see that announcement by clicking this link. The announcement begins at the 32:00 minute mark of the video.

Seven Church Vision Announcement

In that announcement I mentioned that we would become one church in two locations pending a vote of the Skyline congregation on September 30 for me to become their Sr. Pastor.  However, it is actually going to be one church in three locations as I did not mention the fact that Skyline has a church in Clifton/Clyde Kansas that is a satellite campus. So, one church in three locations is actually what is happening. Skyline is an incredible church with incredible people that have such a great heart for the Lord and their community that I believe it is a great fit with the hearts of the people of Seven San Diego Church. This gives us greater reach to make a difference in more areas of East County San Diego, Kansas, and beyond. We are excited and thrilled with the response from Seven church and the response of Skyline church because you are all such a Kingdom minded group of people. We truly believe we are better together.

Skyline voted after all three of their services this last Sunday September 30 and the vote was extremely positive and affirmative which means we can begin to move forward in our one church in three locations expansion. If you would like to see the Sunday September 23 message when I spoke at Skyline and talked about this you can see the video by clicking this link.  Skyline Church Vision Message

What this means is beginning Sunday November 18 we will begin our journey together as one church in three locations. You may have questions about this transition. In my message at both Seven and Skyline I address frequently asked questions about this process and what it may look like in the future. If you have any other questions please feel free to call the office at 619-977-9277 or send us an email at info@sevensdchurch.comwe would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Children’s Ministry Growth

The children’s facility expansion is happening right now. Our growing kids ministry at Seven San Diego Church has needed more space, especially in our nursery. Well, by this Sunday, October 7 you will see that the Nursery has exponentially expanded! It is such a great thing to see more and more babies and kids coming to Seven!

Thank you for inviting your Oikos. We truly believe what we say a lot around here “An Invite Can Change a Life.” We’re seeing more lives changed every week…keep inviting!

God Bless you,

Jeremy

GAMETIME

This was written by Tom Mercer… a great and important read.

https://www.tommercer.com/single-post/2018/02/24/Gametime

Another American city recently became famous, but for the wrong reason.

 You and I have once again been reminded that demons of violence aren’t just occasional visitors. They have the uncanny ability to establish strongholds. And not just in warzones on the other side of the world. The same demons, who delight in generating international chaos, have also been invited to entrench themselves in our communities, and even inside of our own homes. It’s time to fight back.

 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. —2 Corinthians 10:4

 There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that there needs to be a full-court press on figuring out what we, as a society, can do to demolish those strongholds of violence. While I myself am a gun owner, I also believe our country could find better ways to keep the wrong guns out of the hands of the wrong people. And, since we are again forced to deal with an unspeakable tragedy, that conversation has predictably cycled back around with renewed momentum. As students of history, however, we should probably expect the wheels of government to grind along at the same snail’s pace it always seems to, while each side of the aisle ramps up the rhetoric about how the other side doesn’t know how to lead.

 But there is some good news. We actually don’t depend on politicians nearly as much as they claim we do. Let Washington argue with itself about who deserves to get reelected. But, what do you say, we take the proverbial bull by the horns and move this country in a new direction ourselves?

 You may be thinking, “Is that even legal?”

 Yep! It’s not only legal, it’s not that complicated.

 This is the simply reality. Every person wants to feel that they matter. Therefore, every person will find a way to matter. Especially a kid.

 Understanding that, I humbly offer a simple strategy for your consideration.

 Number one, pray for our kids. Not just your kids, but all of our kids. They should matter enough to us that you and I would spend significant time on our knees, asking God to lift this incredible fog of hatred that’s settled on our nation. If you’re too busy to do even that, then stop complaining. If you want to do something else besides pray, then that’s even better. But until you pray, that something else will not work. People tell me all the time that they pray for America’s children. But, when pressed for what that looks like, it’s clear that they seldom do. Our prayers are absolutely essential for national integrity.

 Prayer was disallowed in American public school classrooms when I was eight years old. Now, eight-year olds are being killed by other students in those same classrooms.

 Hmmm…

 Second, let’s reinsert ourselves into our kids’ schedules. Maybe stop seeing personal media as a way to keep them occupied, while we pursue whatever it is that we consider more important than them.

 A study conducted at the Boston Medical Center was startling. When parents and caregivers had both a personal device and a child present, in 73% of the cases observed, their “primary engagement was with the device, rather than the child.” In many cases, the parents expressed irritation when the children tried to get their attention.

 It’s interesting to me that we even still call them cellphones. They were invented as cellular telephones because telephones had become culturally necessary and the cell version was a convenient upgrade. But what started as a telephone has evolved into a personal indulgence device, one that happens to make phone calls. And now family interaction has been severely crippled by a new addiction.

 If you want to keep claiming that you or your children are not addicted to media, just take your and your spouse’s cellphones, then confiscate your children’s devices, put them all in a locked closet for a while and purchase a device that only makes phone calls. (Actually, you’d save a lot of money.) If you’re not addicted to those machines, it shouldn’t be a problem, should it? But, if you experiment with this strategy, you might want to be prepared for what acute anxiety sounds like.

 Most parents would never leave their children with a babysitter they couldn’t trust. Since media isn’t a trustworthy babysitter, always remain vigilant. Most media execs worship only at the church of corporate profits and faithfully pay homage to their greed by manipulating millions of Americans into becoming their dependents.

 (Do you sense a rant beginning to surface?)

 Hollywood speaks out of both sides of their mouths. Then again, what do you expect from people who make a living by pretending to be someone they’re not. On the one hand, they fully embrace the platform that television and film gives them to frame national attitudes. But they are the first to fully excuse themselves when the attitudes they help frame lead to destructive behavior.

 Only Jesus will put an end to abuse and violence. But, in the meantime, Hollywood, do you really want to turn a corner on sexual abuse? Then stop raising America’s children on sexually explicit media. Do you really want to help turn the corner on school-shootings? Then stop shooting violent film and television into our kids’ veins. That won’t completely solve the problem, because this isn’t a one-layer problem. But it would certainly create a good-faith contribution to the discussion. A majorly huge contribution.

 And since I fully expect Hollywood to continue to turn a deaf ear to any suggestion that they look in the mirror, let’s make them. What do you think the people in the C-suites of entertainment companies would do if the 80 million people who claim to be Jesus-followers in this country simply stopped buying tickets to movies or recording television programming that glorified violence, diminished the value of life, or disrespected what the Bible says about human sexuality? Greedy people only hear what their wallets tell them.

 If this is our country, then I suggest we just put those people out of business ourselves, along with a game industry who are training our children to point-and-shoot about 5,000 times a day.

 Ask any credible psychologist (who’s not being paid for their “expert” opinions by either gaming or film lobbyists), and they will tell you some version of the same thing. The human brain is like a computer. What you input will reflect the output. (You can read more about that in my blog from December 2, 2017, Killology.)

 Let me be clear. I believe that certain weapons should be managed much more carefully. But, that aside, what so many of these kids have in their heads is the reason they put weapons in their hands.

 If authorities are part of the problem, then let’s have that discussion. But we can do more. We can stop worrying about what everyone else isn’t doing and get in the game ourselves.

 Pray hard for Parkland, Florida. Pray consistently for all of our kids. And spend more time in conversation with your family than you do posting for people who matter less.

 It’s never hopeless, because God’s people are never helpless.

New Year’s Goals and Resolutions

“Happy New Year”

 

I love the new year. I love new beginnings. I love setting new goals for the new year and making resolutions to reach them. According to StatisticBrain.com[1] The top resolutions made are

 

1 Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
2 Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
3 Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
4 Quit Smoking 7.1%
5 Do more exciting things 6.3%
6 Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
7 Work out more often 5.5%
8 Learn something new on my own 5.3%
9 Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
10 Find the love of my life 4.3
11 Find a better job 4.1%
12 Stop being a Raider fan 13.8%

 

Ok, I added the last one, that category is actually “other.” I find it interesting that only about 9% of people who make resolutions actually attain success with the resolution.

 

Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions 41 %
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions 17 %
Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions 42 %
Percent of people who felt they were successful in achieving their resolution 9.2 %
Percent who have infrequent success 48.4%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year 42.4%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions  

 

I believe resolutions have POTENTIAL for greatness. Goals are important in attaining success in any resolution. Every resolution needs a process. Every goal needs incremental steps. No resolution can be accomplished without the PROCESS. Committing to a goal is great. But, if the goal is committed to but there is not a clear process of how to achieve that goal, well, a 9% success rate is actually surprisingly high. In that case, it’s more luck than anything I suppose. However, when one takes a goal and puts a step by step process to it, they are much more likely to achieve your goal. According to mindtools.com[2] you need to set goals to be successful in life, but you also need well defined steps to help you accomplish those goals.

 

As a Pastor, I know many people make a resolution to read the Bible in a year. Using this as an example; There are 1,188 chapters in the Bible. If someone were to resolve to read all 1,188 then they need a clear plan to get them there. And, there are a number of ways they can do this. If you take 1,188 and divide it by 365 you will see that you get 3.25 chapters per day. If someone were to read about 3 chapters a day they would read the entire Bible in a year. Reading about 3 chapters a day is a plan and a step by step process to complete the goal of reading the entire Bible. Whether it’s a spiritual goal or a physical goal or any other goal, it must have a clear step by step process and even smaller goals within the bigger goal to be realistically accomplished.

 

In our new series, Re-Wired I will be talking about the different areas of our lives and how we can be changed for the better in the areas of our spiritual, relational, emotional, financial, vocational, and other areas of our lives. But, it takes more than a resolution, it takes a step by step plan to get you there. Thankfully, the Bible has laid it out for us. God’s Word doesn’t just tell us, “Get better!” It shows us how on a step by step basis we can grow in each of the areas God has called us to grow. I hope you’ll join us as we kick off the series on January 7. If you can’t be here in person, join us online, live every Sunday at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:00am. If you miss a message, you can always grab them on our app or on our website at www.7sd.org.

 

Join me, in Resolving to Change in 2018! With Jesus at the helm of your life, this year will be different!

[1] https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

[2] https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

Leadership Burnout

Although the formatting will not translate to my website, I have copied and pasted my dissertation below. Would be glad to answer any questions you might have about the research.

The project was mostly geared toward pastors but many leaders in general were studied and the results can be applied to leadership roles in many cases.

 

 

 

 

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS OF PASTORAL BURNOUT

 

IN LOCAL CHURCH MINISTRY

                                                

A Doctoral Project

Presented to

the Faculty of Talbot School of Theology

Biola University

                                               

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor Of Ministry

                                                

by

Jeremy H. McGarity

November 2016

Copyright © 2016 by Jeremy H. McGarity

All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

 

 

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS OF PASTORAL BURNOUT IN LOCAL CHURCH MINISTRY

Jeremy H. McGarity

Being a pastor can be very a satisfying job when lives are changed and people are following Jesus and serving in the local church with selflessness and joy. The role of a pastor can also become a dangerous one full of stress, hurt feelings, financial pressure, conflict and hopelessness. More and more pastors are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, financially in debt and experiencing unrealistic pressure at church and at home. As a result, pastors are leaving their ministry at ever increasing rates. However, this trend of pastoral exits can, at some level, be changed.

This project proposes that there are various characteristics pastors and leaders experience that lead to burnout. The most common of these characteristics include a lack of rest and recreation, unrealistic expectations, discouragement, financial stress, and a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. This hypothesis was researched through content analysis by researching books, academic journal articles, magazines, blogs and newspaper articles to see if and how pastors and leaders show characteristics of burnout. And, if they do, then these characteristics could potentially be identified early enough to prevent a pastor or leader from burning out and losing their ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

A project like this is never done alone. This project is dedicated with deep love and appreciation to my wife Janie and our children: Riley, Aidan, and Levi. Thank you so much for your love, support, sacrifice, and encouragement throughout these years of classes and projects. I love you so much.

           

 

                                                                                   

 

CONTENTS

Chapter

  1. Problem and Rational ……………………………………………………………………………. 1

The Problem …………………………………………………………………………………… 3

Research Question …………………………………………………………………………… 7

Definitions ……………………………………………………………………………………… 7

Organization of the Project ………………………………………………………………. 8

Limitations …………………………………………………………………………………… 10

Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………… 11

  1. Biblical and Theological Foundations …………………………………………………… 13

The Pastoral Role ………………………………………………………………………….. 14

Ekklesia: The Church …………………………………………………………………….. 16

Burned Out Leaders ………………………………………………………………………. 25

Moses Overburdened …………………………………………………………. 25

King David’s Stress …………………………………………………………… 27

Elijah’s Discouragement ……………………………………………………… 29

Martha and Mary, Stress versus Peace ………………………………… 31

Handling Stress Well ……………………………………………………………………… 33

Joseph Suffering for God ……………………………………………………. 33

Paul Working Hard and Suffering …………………………………………. 35

Jesus Leading by Example ………………………………………………….. 38

Health and Vitality ………………………………………………………………………… 39

Adam and Eve …………………………………………………………………… 40

The Sabbath Rest ………………………………………………………………. 41

Summary ………………………………………………………………………….. 43

  1. Literature Review ………………………………………………………………………………. 45

                       Mondays with My Old Pastor, Sometimes All We Need is a Reminder

by Jose Luis Navajo ………………………………………………………….. 45

Preventing Ministry Failure: A Shepherd Care Guide for Pastors,

                       Ministers and Other Caregivers

by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffman ………………………… 49

Clergy Burnout: Recovering from the 70-Hour Work Week

by Fred Lehr …………………………………………………………………….. 53

The American Church in Crisis

by David T. Olson …………………………………………………………….. 56

Transforming Church

by Kevin Ford …………………………………………………………………… 58

Good to Great

by James Collins ……………………………………………………………….. 61

Leading on Empty

by Wayne Cordeiro ……………………………………………………………. 65

The Traveler’s Gift

by Andy Andrews …………………………………………………………….. 68

It Only Hurts on Monday

by Gary McIntosh and Ron Edmonson ……………………………….. 72

When Not Taking a Break is Deadly

by Jessica Stillman …………………………………………………………….. 73

Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church

by Lenny Luchetti …………………………………………………………….. 75

Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………… 77

Insights from the Literature Review ………………………………………………… 78

Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………… 78

  1. Research Design and Findings ……………………………………………………………… 80

Description of Proposed Solutions ………………………………………………….. 81

Assessment Instruments ………………………………………………………………… 81

Timeline for Conducting Project ……………………………………………………… 82

Findings ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 82

Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………… 83

  1. Results, An Article for Publication ………………………………………………………. 84

Problems in the Pulpit …………………………………………………………………… 84

The Problem …………………………………………………………………………………. 86

Identifying Characteristics of Pastoral Burnout ………………………………… 91

Lack of Rest and Recreation ……………………………………………….. 92

Discouragement …………………………………………………………………. 96

Unrealistic Expectations …………………………………………………….. 99

Financial Pressure …………………………………………………………….. 102

Unhealthy Physical and Dietary Habits ………………………………. 104

Solutions and Resources ……………………………………………………………….. 108

Scheduling Rest and Recreation ………………………………………….. 108

Defeating Discouragement …………………………………………………. 110

Drawing the Line on Expectations ………………………………………. 113

Financial Pressure Release …………………………………………………. 116

Exercise and Healthy Eating ………………………………………………. 119

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………. 123

  1. Conclusions and Recommendations ……………………………………………………. 125

Overview of the Project ………………………………………………………………… 125

Implications of the Research …………………………………………………………. 126

Future Research …………………………………………………………………………… 126

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………….. 127

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 129

Vita ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 134

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

Problem and Rational

 

Being a pastor can be a most rewarding job. Knowing that what one is doing is making an eternal impact, and not just a temporary one, can lead to incredible satisfaction in one’s job and life. Being the hands and feet of Jesus to a group of people that look to the pastor for spiritual direction, counsel, and biblical authority can build confidence and excitement in making them feel needed and important in their role as a pastor.

Pastors have much on their plate. They must prepare messages (usually more than one per week), lead their staff and/or volunteers, make hospital visits, cast vision, keep everyone on the same page, meet with the board and elders, officiate weddings, funerals, baby dedications, and baptisms. Yet, pastors need to be there for their spouse and family, while leading them to the Lord, and being an example to their extended family, friends, neighbors, Little League, and PTA. The pastor’s job is not nine to five. Quite often, it is twenty-four hour availability and all access with texting, Facebook messaging, and other social media connections like Instagram. Therefore, the pastor is never truly off. This causes a myriad of problems in the pastor’s life.

Recent studies report that ninety percent of pastors do not retire from the ministry rather they burnout, quit, or have a moral failure.[1] Another report declares that over

1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month.[2]   This is shocking, particularly in light of Jesus’ words

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.[3]

If Jesus’ burden is light, why do so many pastors feel stressed, exhausted, and burned out?

This is not only an issue that Christians have noticed, but the mainstream media has reported the trend as well. For example, the New York Times recently published an article stating, “1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure. . . . Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.”[4] These numbers are alarming and reflect the writer’s own personal observation of colleagues who have experienced such failures.

The negative effects of burnout are not limited to the church. The pastors families often feel the effects at a more intense level than even the congregation. Researcher Richard Krejcir notes that fifty percent of pastors will end up divorced, and thirty percent of pastors are in an ongoing affair or have had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.[5] For some an affair may have been an escape mechanism, while for others it was perhaps a weak moment. Whatever the case, according to Vitello and Krejir, pastoral burnout is harming pastors and churches across the United States.

The Problem

The health and vitality of churches is dependent upon the health and vitality of pastors. The statistics mentioned are so alarming that they cannot be ignored. There seems to be a clear correlation between the declining health and well-being of pastors and the declining health, well-being and influence of churches. Krejcir states,

  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month.
  • Of those 1,700 pastors who leave, over 1,300 leave due to termination.
  • Over 3,500 people a day leave the church.[6]

This does not bode well for America’s churches. If pastors are declining in health, morality, energy and longevity, the implications for the church are likely the same. Evidence is mounting that this is true. For example, former pastor Gene Wood illustrates the reality of the church in America when he lists the following statistics,

  • In the past decade the communicant membership of all Protestant denominations has declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242) while in the same period the national population has increased by 11 percent (24,153,000).
  • We close 72 churches a week or 10 per day in America.
  • As many as 85 percent of America’s Protestant churches are plateaued or     declining.
  • Of the 350,000 churches, some 60,000 report not a single convert in a year’s time .[7]

Leadership expert Aubrey Malphurs echoes Wood when he states, “Currently 80 to 85 percent of American churches are either plateaued or dying with no revival in sight.”[8] This trend of failing pastors and failing churches cannot continue if the church is to be effective in its God-given mission to be the light of the world.

The battle begins with the pastor. The length of time a pastor remains at the same church has much to do with the growth or lack of growth in the church. Church growth expert Charles Arn states,

There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church                                           growth.  While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-                                  growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a                          growing church with many short-term pastorates.[9]

Churches find it very difficult to trust pastors who are not there for an extended period of time. This leads to declining attendance, questions and arguments among church members, division within the church and naturally less money in the offering as more and more people leave the church. And, even if the church succeeds in calling a new pastor, it will take extended time to build trust and relationships to the point where the church can thrive. According to Arn,

Several years ago a study by the largest Protestant denomination in the country                             found a startling relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their                                     churches, and the growth or decline of those churches. Approximately 3/4 of their                 growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church more                           than four years, while 2/3 of their declining churches were being led by pastors                            who had been in their church less than four years.[10]

The problem becomes clearer as the correlation between trust and time in the same church is noted. With the average tenure of a pastor being just three to four years one can see how difficult it is to get a church growing on a consistent basis.[11]  Each time a new pastor comes the long rebuilding process begins.   As the aforementioned studies show, long-term consistency in the pastoral role can lead to church health and growth. However, short-term pastoral tenure often leads to broken relationships, disillusionment, and limited effectiveness for the church the pastor leaves behind. More often than not pastoral burnout and its related causes are the main reasons for these short-term tenures.

The pastor may not even know if he is burned out or burning out. Many times what a pastor needs is a long-term break or Sabbatical. But, for various reasons, many pastors simply do not take the much needed time off. Pastors seem to view ministry like a sprint instead of a marathon. Many sprint toward workaholism, depression, fatigue, adrenal failure, and various other health issues. Former Mega-Church pastor and author Mark Driscoll states,

It was go, go, go, and at some point my body just couldn’t go anymore . . . I                                  couldn’t shut down. I couldn’t sleep. I’d fall asleep for an hour, wake up, and then                        be up all night. I’d be exhausted but unable to sleep. I had adrenal fatigue.[12]

Shortly after the above article was written, Mark Driscoll lost his job as pastor of his church, as the letter from his church board to him stated, “You are to step down from ministry out of concern for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior.”[13] It would appear, based on the evidence, he was burned out. Perhaps, if he had been able to understand that he was on the road to burnout by identifying some of the common characteristics of burnout, he could have taken time off to rest, recuperate, and be prepared and energized for the next phase of ministry in his local church. However, burnout often goes unnoticed and untreated until, like Driscoll, it is too late.

Research Question

            This doctoral project seeks to answer the question, “Are there identifiable characteristics of pastoral burnout?” To answer this question the project uses a Content Analysis procedure by looking at the main literature relating to pastoral stress. In addition, a study of Old and New Testament passages relating to the issues of ministry stress and burnout are identified and reflected upon.

Definitions

The project uses the following words as defined throughout.

Burnout is defined as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion caused by overwork or stress with no desire to return to activities that led to the condition.

Health is described as the state of being free from illness or injury physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Vitality is described as having health as mentioned above and feeling energized in doing the work of a pastor or leader with joy.

Stress is described as a state of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual strain or tension resulting from demanding expectations and circumstances.

Spiritual Dryness is described as a feeling of disconnect from God, the Bible and other Christians with a lessening desire to engage in any conduct that might help connect one to all three.

Sabbath is described in two ways. First, it is a singular day of rest and recreation where no pastoral or leadership work is done. Second, it is described as an extended time away from pastoring or leading the church or organization, typically a full Sabbatical may be 90 days in length.

Recreation is described as a time to have fun and refuel the emotional batteries of one’s life.

Organization of the Project

The doctoral project is developed through six chapters. Chapter one introduces the project, states the problem, defines the key words, and gives an overview of the chapters.

Chapter two sets the project in the biblical theological context. Specifically it explores the role of the pastor and the meaning and role of the church. Also, it explores the biblical and theological view of spiritual warfare and suffering. Finally, it explores three areas including Burned Out Leaders, Health and Vitality, and Handling Stress Well. Burned Out Leaders section focuses on biblical characters and verses that showed the signs, symptoms, and actions of being burned out. The biblical characters are Moses, King David, Elijah, and Mary and Martha. The study in Health and Vitality shows biblical characters and the biblical commandment of how to serve God with health and vitality, setting an example for pastors to follow. The biblical characters are Adam and Eve, and the commandment is the Sabbath Rest. Handling Stress Well shows examples in scripture of how to minister and thrive while under stress using Joseph, Paul, and Jesus as examples.

Chapter three discusses the main literature that relates to stress and burnout. Books written by Gary McIntosh, Wayne Cordeiro, David T. Olson and others are reviewed. Chapter four lays out the research design that was used to arrive at the conclusions. Chapter five present the outcomes of the project in the form of an article written for publication. Chapter six provides a conclusion to the entire doctoral project. The research question is reviewed and answered, and recommendations for further research are given.

Limitations

This project does not attempt to research all the characteristics or even the only characteristics of stress, exhaustion, and burnout. The project attempted to find various characteristics that continued to show up in various literature including books, magazines, journal articles, websites, and respected blogs.

Summary

Many pastors and leaders are burned out or on the road to burnout and if caught early enough they may be able to save their ministry and their family. The research in this project will reveal that many pastors are operating under unrealistic expectations, dealing with large amounts of stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, health issues, discouragement and various other issues that need to be identified in advance before it is too late to help the pastor or leader. Many pastors are taking very little time off and not enjoying life and ministry at a level they first believed they would when they entered the ministry. Identifying some of the common characteristics of burnout will help pastors identify that they are headed for danger and by recognizing where they are, be encouraged to make immediate changes for the health and vitality of their life and ministry.

This project will describe five common characteristics of pastors who are on the dangerous path to burnout. This project is for pastors who are currently in ministry and may or may not be feeling the effects of burnout and for those who desire to be a pastor one day. This project may also benefit denominational leadership and ministry organizations in helping them prevent, identify, and treat burnout among their pastors, leaders, and volunteers. If more pastors and leaders are on the track to health, growth, and vitality we will be able to expect more churches to be on the path to health, growth, and vitality.

CHAPTER 2

Biblical and Theological Foundations

 

Pastors serving in the local church are leaving the ministry at very high rates. Studies show that as many as 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month.[14] I propose that pastors are leaving due to high stress, exhaustion, and burnout caused by a lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, unhealthy physical and dietary habits as well as other characteristics that make it more attractive to leave the ministry than to stay and deal with the pain of these characteristics.

In light of what studies show is an emergency situation in the church, it is necessary to have a solid theological foundation from which to build this case. First, it is necessary to understand what the Bible teaches concerning the role of the pastor. Second, it is necessary to understand what the Bible teaches about the church, what it is and what it is to do. Third, it is necessary to understand a biblical view of spiritual warfare and suffering. Fourth, this chapter will describe some characters in the Bible who experienced stress and exhaustion and the role the Sabbath is intended to play. In contrast, this chapter will also describe biblical characters who experienced health and vitality, and those who dealt with stress well in scripture despite the pressures and burdens of life and ministry all around them.

The Pastoral Role

Scripture explains the role of a pastoral with resounding clarity. It paints the picture of how a pastor is to lead, provide support, and be supported. However, according to a recent study, pastors do not feel supported and leave the ministry before retirement age mainly due to burnout, conflict in the church, change in calling, personal financial stress, and family issues.[15] The role of pastor can be full of pressure, conflict, and overwhelming lists of expectations and responsibilities. These pressures can cause great harm to pastors and many are leaving because of it. The same study showed two of the main reasons pastors leave, “Pastors leave due to a lack of support and lack of a sabbatical plan. Hundreds of former senior pastors say these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate.”[16] However, scripture paints a different picture of the pastoral role.

According to scripture, the role of pastor, among other things, is a gift given by God.[17] The pastor is to shepherd the church of God and watch over those God has entrusted to their care.[18] The pastor is to, “Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”[19]   The pastor is also to equip others for the work of the ministry.[20] By equipping others to use their God given gifts, the ministry workload is shared and lightened. However, in America, pastoring a church is becoming more difficult. Less and less people are identifying with Christianity or religion for that matter. A recent Pew Research Center study shows, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.”[21]

As the church in America continues to decline, this affects the role of the pastor in at least two primary ways. First, when a church experiences consistent declines in attendance the church budget is negatively affected. Church finances and budgets are connected to the tithing adults at the church. The result is a stagnated or shrinking pastoral salary and benefits package along with a lack of ability to hire other pastors or assistants who could share some of the ministerial burden. This contradicts scripture in that the pastor, especially those who do the preaching and teaching, are to be supported, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”[22] Not supporting the pastor, especially financially, is anti-biblical and as already explained, is a leading cause of pastors leaving their ministry.

Second, the decline in church attendance adds pressure to the pastor to come up with new ways of doing ministry, or new ways to perform to see more people come to church if for no other reason than to keep their job. A pastor may read a section of scripture that speaks to rapid growth of the biblical church as in Acts, “. . . praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”[23] A simple reading of this verse and a pastor can assume this is how it should be for their church. This can add pressure to the pastor feeling as though they are a failure if their church is not growing and excitement is lacking unlike the church they read about in the Bible. Many pastors will then work extra hours to try to manage a declining endeavor while attempting to reach new people in the community, which takes an incredible amount of time and energy. Churches that are experiencing decline may blame it on the pastor and therefore limit the pastor’s ability to make the changes needed to experience new life and growth in the church. This is a burdensome and painful cycle that is very difficult to change for the pastor. It is actually quite impossible to change without the help of the whole church. In light of these realities, it is vital to have a clear understanding of what the church is to be and do according to the Bible.

Ekklesia: The Church

A correct understanding of the church is necessary for a correct understanding of the role of the pastor and the people. For some, the church is considered a place to go to, a building that has pews and people, music and preaching.   For others, as evidenced by the decline of the American church, church is an outdated, judgmental, stale, and irrelevant institution that is stuck in the old days of American culture. These people see the church as out of touch with the realities of the day and unwilling to change or adapt to become more welcoming and affirming of the latest popular culture trends.

Regardless of the various misunderstandings of what the church is or should be, the Bible provides clarity on the subject. The church is described in the Bible in various places. First, the word “church” in Greek is the word ekklesia, which means an assembly, congregation, church, those called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church.[24] The people of God make up the church. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior are considered believers and make up the called out ones. [25]

Second, The Bible describes the church as the fellowship of believers, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer . . . All the believers were together and had everything in common.”[26] People were commanded to get together to encourage each other and build each other up, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together . . . but encouraging one another. . .”[27] It is unfortunate that instead of encouragement and building up, what often happens in churches is conflict and tearing down of the people, programs, plans and pastors. The criticism and conflict are some of the primary reason pastors leave, as evidenced in the studies already mentioned. The reason for building up and encouraging people in the church is that there is work to be done. Third, the church is not to get together and fellowship without a purpose. Rather, the church is to be known for its mission. The church has a mandate from its leader known as the Great Commission,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the                           Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey                                                 everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very                             end of the age.

The leader of the church is Jesus, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”[28] As evidenced by his words in the Great Commission, the pastor and the church do not do the work alone. Jesus wants to lead the church. The people and the pastor are to submit to Jesus’ leadership first. Fourth, the Bible describes the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”[29] The Holy Spirit guides, comforts, counsels and even prays for the church. Being connected to the Holy Spirit allows a person to grow in their faith and become all God created them to be as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.[30] The Holy Spirit gives the church the power it needs to fulfill the mandate given by Jesus, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”[31] When the church submits to Jesus and allows the Holy Spirit to guide it a healthy community of believers can exist and be a tremendous example to the world of what love is. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”[32] A mark of being a growing member of God’s fellowship of believers, the church, is following Jesus’ command to love each other. This command is not always obeyed and when it is ignored, the church and its pastors pay the high price of added stress, exhaustion, and burnout.

The Bible speaks of the church and its leaders with great admiration and high honor, even giving the church the description of the Bride of Christ.[33] This high honor is not shared among people in the United States. Pastors are not viewed with the same respect they once were, “The loss of respect for the pastor is a common occurrence in the local church. The research shows that it is occurring at an alarming rate.”[34] As more and more people leave the church, and more and more people have conflict with the pastor, the pressure and exhaustion mounts on pastors and leaders and their answer is to walk away from the church. Keeping the church on mission is paramount for a pastor and church to be able to not just survive, but thrive.

The Church on Mission

The church is not to simply get together for the social or fellowship aspects of church life. The church, among other things, is to fulfill the Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you . . .”[35] The church is to heal the broken hearted[36], reach the lost[37], build up the believers[38], help people live life to the full[39]and be a light to the community and those around them.[40] When the church loses focus on its mission, unfortunate consequences always follow. The following are some of the things the local church is commissioned to do.

Reach the Lost

The church is led by Jesus, therefore it is clear that a church should have the same mission focus as Jesus. One of the main focuses of the church should be equipping people to reach the lost. Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost.”[41] Jesus passion for reaching lost people was clear when he said, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”[42] These statements and many others throughout the Bible illustrate the need for churches to be on mission in reaching the lost. Many churches are plateaued or dying because no new conversions are realized over the course of the year. “In the average year, half of all existing churches will not add one new member through conversion growth.”[43] If the church is on mission then reaching the lost will be paramount. However once they are reached they need to be taught. Teaching them to obey the scripture and all that Jesus commanded is another mandate of the church.

Make Disciples

The Great Commission is clear, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you . . .”[44] When a lost person is reached their next step is to learn to obey. The churches mandate is to teach the Bible and help people live out God’s purpose for their lives.[45] The pastor is not the only one who should do this. There are other gifted people who may not have the title of pastor but are gifted at teaching the Bible that can help carry the load. If the pastor is the only one doing all the teaching then less disciples will be taught and more exhaustion is likely to come to the pastor. As new disciples learn and grow they are baptized (although some may be baptized immediately at conversion) which is the public profession of faith in Jesus as mandated in the Great Commission.

The process of making disciples is meant to be a team sport. According to scripture, every believer has something to contribute to the building up of the church.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the                                             pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the                                       body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in                                       the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the                                        whole measure of the fullness of Christ.[46]

When everyone in the church is utilizing their gifts, a healthy church system can be formed where the church is on mission in reaching the lost, teaching them to obey scripture, and allowing them to participate in using their gifts by serving in the church and reaching those outside of the church. Part of making disciples is the understanding that not everyone has the same gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”[47] When each believer’s gift is discovered and utilized, health and growth are more likely to come to pastors and the church.

The Church Active

There are many other activities the church can be involved in. These may include taking care of the poor[48], caring for the widows,[49] serving the community through various means of cleanup, outreach, addiction counseling, as well as many other forms of family counseling and crisis intervention.[50] These acts of kindness show the love of Jesus to people who may not know him and bring light into a dark place in people’s lives. However, these activities are only possible when believers utilize their gifts and participate in the ministry, not leaving it to the professional pastor to take care of all it. The church can be busy, but it needs to be focused. A lack of focus can cause a church to be very active but not very productive. Focusing on these mandates and others the Bible provides, gives the church a clear mission, vision, and goal that can help it not just survive but thrive.

The Church has an Enemy

Spiritual warfare in the church is a reality. The enemy of the pastor and the church is Satan himself. There should be an expectation of opposition from both the church and the pastor. There should be a realization that the church and its pastor(s) are in a war and they are trying to take enemy ground. Therefore, there will be struggle, pain, difficulty, conflict, and resistance of all kinds. The better equipped pastors and churches are to deal with these difficulties the more likely less pastors will leave the ministry and less people will leave the church. Strategically speaking we must outwit the enemy, “In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”[51] The enemy can make it seem overwhelming and difficult to lead or even be part of a church. However, Paul assures the church, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”[52] Although it is often an invisible war and a war that may not seem fair and can cause one to want to quit, one can have confidence that God has given the pastor and the church all they need to overcome the enemy.

Spiritual attacks and conflict are fact of life for those who serve and follow Jesus. A Christian, but even at greater levels a pastor will experience suffering in the ministry. This theological truth is important to understand if a pastor or leader will survive the marathon of ministry. If a pastor is to not just survive but thrive in ministry over the long haul, they will need to be aware of the characteristics that often bring pastors down and cause them to quit too soon. Specific to this doctoral project, each of the primary areas highlighted (lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and unhealthy physical and dietary habits) are all areas of spiritual attack where Satan can thrive if not identified early.

The next section will describe some characters in the Bible who experienced stress and exhaustion and the role the Sabbath is intended to play. In contrast, this chapter will also describe biblical characters that experienced health and vitality, and those who dealt with stress well in scripture despite the pressures and burdens of life and ministry all around them.

Burned Out Leaders

Moses Overburdened

Moses was raised in a privileged environment. He was given every possible luxury and opportunity for advancement. The Scripture says that he was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in speech and action.”[53] Moses was given the tools and education to make right decisions and to make sure he did not burnout. Yet, he was a perfect candidate for burnout as seen in Exodus 18,

Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you . . . But select capable men from all the people . . . have them serve . . . That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.[54]

It took someone else to help, in this case Moses’ father in law to help him see that he was on his way to burnout. Moses received sound advice and he followed it. This allowed Moses to focus on the most important part of his calling, which Jethro reminded him: “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.”[55] It took someone on the outside to remind Moses of his most important calling, to lead and teach the people. His calling was not to get wrapped up in the daily monotony of squabbles and conflicts and to try to do all the work himself. This is exactly what pastors and leaders need to remember. In order to last in ministry, leaders must be willing to empower others to “do the work of the ministry.”[56] Moses took the advice of his father-in-law Jethro,

But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God . . . and                                          appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens . . . if                                              you do this . . . you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people                                  will go home satisfied.”

When Moses heeded the advice to delegate his tasks and allow others to join in the work of the Lord, he was able to stand the strain and the people went home satisfied.

Pastors may not hand off an “important” ministry related task to someone whom they may deem unqualified or inexperienced. This compounds their stress and problems by adding more work to their own schedule leading to more burnout. King David is an example of someone who was on an accelerated pace for emotional exhaustion, stress, feeling overwhelmed, and burnout but was able to thrive as he found his comfort in the Lord.      

 

King David’s Stress

King David was, “A man after God’s own heart,”[57] yet he was often overwhelmed and overburdened. David brought a refreshing honesty to his times of communication with the LORD. He was not afraid to admit his weaknesses and confess his weaknesses and cry out to God to listen to him. Admission and confession are key factors to renewal. Pastors and leaders cannot function under the false pretensions that they are superhuman. David admitted his humanness when he said, “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress;

have mercy on me and hear my prayer.[58] These comments reflect what many leaders often feel. No leader can keep focused on God’s call when he is burdened, distressed, weak, and burned out.

It is refreshing to read in Scripture that David felt distressed even though he was a man after God’s own heart. He was not immune to the spiritually dry seasons in serving God. We learn that David had an honest relationship with God when he cries out, “Turn your ear to me and save me.”[59] And “Hear me, Lord . . . listen to my cry. Hear my prayer.”[60] He begged God to tune his ear to him. He cried out to God and told God to listen to him, “Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty: listen to me.”[61]

David had a clear call from God, an anointing to be the next King. Yet, God did not put him in charge immediately. God took him through difficult times, dry times spiritually, times when David felt betrayed by those close to him and times when he could rejoice in God’s faithfulness. Reading David’s story is a reminder for all leaders, that no matter how hard it gets, God is there. Just as David realized, God is shown faithful.[62] Thankfully, there is hope, as David found his hope in the Lord, so can pastors and leaders everywhere, “LORD, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.”[63]

As always, the LORD answered and David experienced the joy of waiting patiently and hearing from God:

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.[64]

It is important to learn from David’s example of patiently waiting on the LORD and realize it is one of the most necessary things a pastor can do when overwhelmed and under stress. If pastors do not take time to wait on the Lord they are likely to end up exhausted, discouraged, and ready to quit serving God just like the prophet Elijah.

Elijah’s Discouragement

Often times it seems after the biggest victories one is most susceptible to the biggest let downs. Elijah did a great work for God. He stood up against false prophets, stepped out in faith, and trusted in God by challenging the false prophets. Elijah called people to follow God saying, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”[65] He drew the line in the sand and was ready for the battle. Elijah even had a good time ministering for the Lord and taunting his opponents, “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’”[66] His taunting the prophets of Baal showed his tremendous confidence in God and that he was confident God would come through. It is interesting to note how quickly this changed in Elijah’s life and how quickly it can change in a pastor’s life.

Elijah decisively won the battle and then promptly ran away and hid because his life was threatened. How could this happen? He just experienced the biggest victory of his prophet career and then ran away in fear, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”[67] The Bible tells us he was so distraught he wanted to end it all,

While he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”[68]

It is hard to imagine a man so confident in God that he would take on 450 false prophets and stand in boldness declaring that the LORD is God and then in a short matter of time, be running away from the next battle. One would think Elijah would have had confidence that if God came through in a battle as large as the one on Mt. Carmel he would see fit to show up again in the very next battle with Jezebel.[69]

Elijah needed rest. He was clearly exhausted and discouraged. He had just battled the false prophets, and then he ran on foot about eighteen miles away from Mt. Carmel. He was physically, spiritually, and emotionally tired and ready to quit. His comment in the previous verse, “I have had enough…” is exactly what many pastors are saying when become overwhelmed, exhausted, and spiritually dry. They want to quit and many pastors do. Sometimes it takes the proper perspective and a realignment of priorities to understand how pastors are to minister at the feet of Jesus instead of in the busyness of life.

Martha and Mary, Stress versus Peace

Martha and Mary were sisters that often traveled with Jesus. Their different personalities are seen in a passage of scripture that describes a time when Jesus was at their home prior to a gathering of other followers that was to take place later that day. Many preparations needed to be made. How Martha and Mary went about preparing for the event is where stress versus calm in serving can be seen. Martha was focused on the tasks that needed to be done. She was focused on the work and the things of the home that were still out of place. She had misplaced her priorities and did not realize who was in her home. Meanwhile, Mary was simply sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to all he said.[70] She was not in hurry, she was simply being with Jesus. Mary was not experiencing stress, she was not worried and upset like her sister. Martha’s stress and burden reached its peak when she says to Jesus, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”[71] Martha’s stress and frustration reached a boiling point and it finally spilled over to an outburst of condemnation toward her sister. Jesus’ apt reply encapsulates the answer to the stress and overwhelming feeling Martha was experiencing, “Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”[72] Mary chose what is better. Jesus knew, it would be alright, there was no need to stress, worry, or fret about the little things, the most important thing was resting and being with him.

Rest, it seems, is a novel concept in today’s ministry world. Without rest, pastors can expect more and more ministry discouragement, exhaustion and burnout. However, scripture gives insight into some leaders who handled stress well and who may be good examples to todays pastors and leaders.

Handling Stress Well

Joseph Suffering for God

            One of the greatest examples of perseverance in the face of adversity is the life of Joseph. Just as many pastors have the dream of leading people and saving them, Joseph also had a dream that he would lead and save people.[73] Though one may have a vision or an idea of what he wants to do in his life, rarely is that dream fulfilled immediately. God uses the classroom of suffering to help shape and mold those he will use for his glory. Joseph’s classroom session began when his brothers decided to sell him as a slave.[74] His lesson in patience and suffering continued when he was later sold in Egypt to one of Pharaoh’s officials, Potiphar.[75]

God had great plans for Joseph, although in the moment, Joseph would not have been able to see it through his suffering, which continued when he was falsely accused of trying to make sexual advances Potiphar’s wife and then was promptly thrown in jail.[76]

Joseph spent years in jail. Perhaps wondering if God had abandoned him. Perhaps wondering if God’s call on his life was sure. Joseph had to be feeling burned out through all of the stress and strain of trying to do the right thing yet still ending up falsely accused, beaten and languishing in jail. However, through it all, God had a plan. The lessons God taught Joseph through all the suffering would prove invaluable as God would see fit to trust Joseph with the saving of the Israelites.

Sometimes, perspective is the best thing pastors can get from reading God’s word.

One can imagine Joseph feeling depressed, discouraged, and even questioning God and his plan. However, Joseph did not give up. He continued to believe in God even when things were tough and he was suffering. He kept doing what was in front of him until God made it clear he should be doing something else.

After years in jail, Joseph was elevated to second in command in Egypt, with only Pharaoh ranking higher. Joseph went to work immediately on a plan to store food and grain for years in preparation for the coming famine. Because of his planning skills and leadership abilities, lives were saved and God’s planned was fulfilled.[77]

In studying the life of Joseph it is clear that he could have been a very bitter person. All of the things that were done to him were without warrant. His trials, stress, pain and suffering were not because of his poor actions. He could have lived his life with bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger. Instead, he chose to see his trials as divinely inspired instruments for crafting the person God had called him to be. This statement sums up the character of Joseph when speaking to his brothers about being sold as a slave, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”[78] According to the Bible, being a pastor or leader for God often brings about suffering and pain. Reading scripture shows that leading a group of people can be one of the most difficult things a person can be called to do. Someone who understood this in scripture was the hardworking apostle Paul.

Paul Working Hard and Suffering

           This overachieving apostle’s life challenges leaders. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, attacked on the left and the right, We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”[79] Paul was beaten badly for his faith and zealousness for Jesus, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.”[80] Pastors and leaders see this and may think how inadequate and how wrong they are to feel stressed, exhausted, or overwhelmed. As Michael Todd Wilson says,

We entered our first pastorate, chaplaincy or ministry position, ready to                                        save the world. Then reality set in! The theoretical world of ministerial                                         training programs often fails to reflect the real life of a typical minister:                                           working with demanding board members, trying to please everyone (and                                       being polite about it!) learning to lead experienced volunteer staff,                                       meeting all the challenges of a one-minister organization…at times being                                         a minister can be overwhelming.” [81]

However, it is important to remember that it seems the Apostle Paul was a very outgoing and energetic person. Yet, there were plenty of times that Paul was forced to slow down because he landed in jail or was stranded on an island. This may have been part of the plan of God to make sure Paul would slow down long enough to write much of the New Testament. If Paul had not been sitting in jail, he may not have slowed down enough to do what God had called him to do. Pastors and leaders cannot miss the point, if they will not slow down and refuel, they will have a forced slow down via sickness, injury, or even burnout. However, unlike Paul, some may not make it back into the ministry. The apostle Paul is a great example to follow in zeal and fervor, however, in resting and waiting on the Lord, perhaps not. When evaluating Paul’s life and ministry, it may be more advantageous for leaders who seek to make it in the marathon of ministry to see Paul’s life as more descriptive of his own personality, calling, and fervor for the Lord, rather than prescriptive of every minister of the Lord.

In today’s terms Paul might be called a sequential church planter. He started many churches and placed leaders in each one before moving on to the next church plant. He is a fine example of zeal, passion and fervor for Jesus. A cursory look at Paul and a pastor may see him as the perfect example of what a pastor should be. Someone who is always on the go, constantly preaching Christ, healing the sick, placing oneself in risky situations and overcoming death multiple times. However, upon further study it is noted that Paul was a single man, with a single focus. This allowed him to be constantly on the go. In writing to the Corinthian church he said,

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned                                       about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man                                        is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—                             and his interests are divided.[82]

In context Paul does not suggest that a married man cannot be a good pastor, he simply states that one may be more effective by focusing on the Lord’s work. Although this may not be accurate for all pastors, as having a family can balance a pastor and bring health and wholeness that a spouse and family can provide that may not be experienced by a pastor who is unmarried. Paul can come across as a superhero type of pastor without any faults. However, upon further study we see a man, not a superhero,

In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my                                         flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the                           Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient                                       for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”[83]

Although Paul can be lifted up as a great Christian for the fight of faith, he may not be the best example for beating, stress, and burnout. However, when it comes to leading by example, we have no one better than Jesus himself.

 

Jesus Leading by Example

           If anyone could have led an overworked life it was Jesus. He was God in the flesh, yet Jesus demonstrates how to minister out of peace, calm, trust and purpose and not out of hurriedness. Jesus had a limited amount of time on earth, just three years to get the work done that the Father had called him to do. If anyone had an excuse for not resting, for not reclining, for not taking time to get away, it was Jesus. Yet, throughout the Gospels, Jesus calmly went about his business. He knew his mission in life and yet still took time to pause, reflect, and unwind. The Bible says that, even as crowds rose (like a fast growing church), Jesus did not speed up his pace, “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”[84] Jesus was consistent in his slow, almost leisurely pace of life and ministry, even causing frustration with those around him because of what seemed to them as a lack of urgency, “Lord . . . . don’t you care.”[85] This is the same question weary pastors ask. The pressures, the crushing expectations, the low pay, and never ending crises cause the leader to ask, “Lord, don’t you care.” If his yoke is easy and his burden is light,[86] then whose burden are pastors carrying?

Jesus used the illustration of the oxen in helping explain a lightened load. When two oxen were yoked together they would work as team to lighten the amount of work to be done. If, however, just one ox would attempt to do the work or takeover the yoke in a solo fashion, that ox would wear out quickly and the needed work would not be done effectively nor efficiently. Instead of the pastor submitting to Jesus and his yoke, burned out pastors seem to be trying to make Jesus submit to their yoke. Health and vitality in ministry are possible. A focused study of the original idea and environment of health and vitality in Genesis and the command of the Sabbath can be a good example of how to be in ministry.

Health and Vitality

The Bible speaks directly to the issue of rest, peace, and vitality in life and ministry. There are a number of passages that speak about being able to hear from God in the quiet moments of life or in a Sabbath rather than in the hurry, scurry, and busyness of life. There are examples of biblical heroes, leaders, and prophets who were overwhelmed, burned out, and ready to quit on their calling and received refreshment from spending time with God. A good starting point to discover this health and vitality would be with the ones who started the human race.

Adam and Eve

From the very beginning of Scripture the theme of rest, relaxation, health, vitality, and close fellowship with God are part of God’s plan for mankind. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”[87] God was with Adam and Eve, physically, and God was not in a hurry. He was walking, enjoying his creation and setting the example for mankind. The verse says, “In the cool of the day,” which is a very important picture of the relaxation and rest one should have in the LORD. It is rare today that people in ministry walk and enjoy the cool of the day, taking time to even notice that it is cool and enjoy the experience. This scene in the garden is a great biblical picture of peace, rest, and rejuvenation, something God intends for his children and certainly for His ministry servants.

Genesis shows that God made the world in seven days and then rested. He rested as an example to people, his creation. God did not need to rest, for he is God, but as any good leader would do, he showed the way to live by giving an example of Sabbath rest.

The Sabbath Rest

 

God instituted the Sabbath to give his people rest. He said to his people, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD.”[88]  God was very serious about this day. It was given to help remind people that God is God and they are not. God will take care of his people and provide all they need if they will just trust in him. The Sabbath is a test from God to see if people will really trust him.

Not taking a Sabbath can be a major contributor to the decline in longevity of ministry. God was so serious about the Sabbath in the Old Testament that anyone violating it was to be cut off from the community and even killed!

While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man must die.’ The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp. So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.[89]

It was hazardous to one’s health if they did not obey God concerning the Sabbath. It is still hazardous to one’s health if they do not obey God concerning the Sabbath. God takes the Sabbath very seriously and pastors and leaders would be wise to do the same. God has made it very clear that in order to be at one’s best, one must rest. “It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.”[90]

Jesus took time to rest. He did the hard work of the ministry but also knew when it was time to take a break. “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.”[91] Another time, Jesus invited the disciples to come away from the crowds and rest for a period of time, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”[92] He continually lived as an example before the disciples of how to live and serve people.

Jesus led by example and took time to recharge and replenish by getting away and meeting with God through prayer. Taking a break is really an act of trust. The person taking the break is admitting, “I am not in control of the world, God is. I can take this break and the world will not fall apart.” Jesus showed his trust many times by not rushing or hurrying through life but ministering out of the overflow of who he was, not on who he was trying to prove himself to be. One of the ultimate shows of trust in resting was when Jesus was sleeping on a boat with the disciples during a storm, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’”[93] Jesus’ response speaks to the issue when we do not take a break as we should, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”[94] A lack of rest shows a lack of faith and trust in God.

By not following the example of the Sabbath, pastors and leaders put burdens on their shoulders that become too much to carry and often leads to burnout and an early exit from the ministry. The burnout epidemic is not new, we see this all throughout the Bible including as far back as the Old Testament.

Summary

There are key examples in scripture that point pastors and leaders who are suffering, feeling overwhelmed, and are showing the characteristics of burnout. In contrast there are also examples of biblical characters that point to health and vitality and who deal with stress well. The examples of Moses, David, Elijah and others provide clear insight into the fact that leaders get stressed and overwhelmed and God desires people to rest and restore their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives. It also shows that it is not God’s desire that his servants be stressed to the point of burnout. These examples also show how dangerous ministry can be. Ministry can become overwhelming, discouraging, and cause harm to the leader and his family.

The following chapter will provide a literature review of some of the books, magazines, websites and journal articles written on this subject.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

Literature Review

            There are a variety of books and articles on the topic of pastoral and leadership stress and burnout. However, this is a topic that is either not discussed at length or ignored in churches all across America. This may be due to the high achievement culture in the United States, or it may be due to the fact that most people do not like to admit weakness or limits. This literature review provides an understanding of the key statistics, observations, and experiences of pastoral stress and burnout.

 

Mondays with My Old Pastor

Someone who came to end of their “boundless and inexhaustible energy” is Jose Luis Navajo an Evangelical Pastor who struggled with exhaustion and burnout in ministry. In his book, Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need is a Reminder Navajo shares his own journey of emotional exhaustion, pain, stress, and burnout, “Deep in some uncertain part of my soul persisted a strange exhaustion that was difficult to explain and hard to endure.”[95] In this, his personal journey from burnout and what it took for him to recover and begin to serve God again he says, “My old pastor observed, ‘Anxiety is able to keep us awake all night, but faith is a marvelous pillow. The most important thing is not starting the race, but rather the unwavering determination to reach the finish line.’”[96]

In the introduction, Navajo shares how he had been rushing around to various appointments and responsibilities, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted he made an appointment with a doctor. He writes, “The pressure got so bad that I thought I was dying, and I had no choice but to see the doctor… the kind doctor listened to me and with commendable patience shelled out his diagnosis: burnout. ”[97] This diagnosis put him on the path to healing and recovery. He recognized his need for counsel and reached out to his old pastor. Navajo described his journey of burnout and wanting to quit through his 12 Monday meetings with his old pastor.

He describes how terribly exhausted and defeated he felt as he approached the home of his mentor where they would begin their weekly meetings. He relished the way his pastor slowly moved and thought, with no rush at all. He was at peace. Navajo noted this characteristic and wanted to be the same way but felt woefully inadequate at one point even stating to his pastor, “What’s happening to me is that I think that I lack the talent to fulfill the responsibilities that are expected of me. Anyone could do the same things that I do… and they would do them a lot better.”[98] The rest of the chapter illustrates how the pastor helped Navajo remember his true value.

In the next chapter Navajo realizes that what he may have been seeking was recognition and success when he should have been focused on simply serving God. His pastor gives sage advice in saying,

Son, if we want to be effective we have to imitate Him. God is not looking                                     for celebrities, nor does He choose His servants consulting celebrity                                      magazines; He prefers vessels of clay to administer His treasure, and the                                sooner we come to terms that our calling is not about becoming statues but                                 rather platforms, the sooner we will advance.[99]

A third issue in this book the author addresses is being a servant of God versus being a church executive. He writes of how difficult and busy life becomes in ministry and how he kept on “cooking” for God, but he kicked God out of the kitchen.[100] The author states what happens to so many pastors as they try to minister out of their own strength and talent, “Without realizing it, I had stopped being God’s servant and turned myself into a church executive—a very busy executive with an open agenda and a closed Bible.”[101]

Busyness has claimed many a pastor on the church battlefield. In this chapter the author describes in detail how his old pastor showed him the way to be with God instead of simply working for God.

In the next chapter one of the biggest killers in a pastor’s ministry is explained and dealt with; Harsh criticism and the pain of “friendly fire.” Those the pastors are trying to help are often the ones striking the hardest blows. Pastors and conflict do not seem to mix. Although, in reality it is part of the job and it should be expected that not everyone will be willing to agree with the pastor, it is often how a person or person(s) disagree that causes a pastor to reconsider his role and calling. Being falsely accused and verbally abused cuts deeply. The response of his old pastor is true, although terribly difficult to practice, “Love them. Even those who despise you . . . especially them, because those who deserve it the least are the ones who need it the most.”[102]

The next section of the book describes the importance of a healthy marriage in a pastor’s life and ministry. For without it, there is no ministry. The author is vulnerable in sharing the challenges in what he learned to be a loving husband instead of an inconsiderate one. The following chapters deal with the importance of a pastor staying put. “Faithfulness is shown by staying put. The trees whose wood is most sought after grow on the most rugged slopes of the mountain.”[103] The emphasis is on perseverance and continuing through thick and thin. “When you finally fully understand the root of the word success, you discover that it means, ‘keep going forward.’”[104]

Mondays with My Old Pastor addresses the common issues many pastors face including stress, overwork, unrealistic expectations, discouragement and the desire to quit. It also weaves a story of hope, vision and renewal of purpose that every exhausted pastor can find encouragement and help prevent ministry failure. The weakness of the book is in that the reader will have solutions for this pastor long before the author gets to it. The book lays out the problem and the pain of the pastor early on and the reader can clearly understand the problem and provide the fix, but the book continues on with more illustrations of struggle and pain before finally resolving the issues.

           

Preventing Ministry Failure

            Preventing Ministry Failure: A Shepherd Care Guide for Pastors, Ministers and Other Caregivers provides stories of pastors and leaders who have experienced ministry burnout and restoration, as well as helpful tools to help ensure one does not fall. The authors write, “The only thing better than experiencing the process of restoration after removal from ministry is not falling in the first place.”[105]

This book is actually more of a workbook for ministers or a small group of ministers to go through together as they tackle the tough issues that so many pastors face. The book is divided into seven different foundation stones, each stone building on the other. The foundation stones are 1. Intimacy: Connecting to the Heart of Successful Pastoring. 2. Calling: The Power for Effectiveness in Ministry. 3. Stress Management: Avoiding Ineffectiveness and Burnout. 4. Boundaries: Protecting What Matters Most. 5. Re-Creation: The Fuel to Re-Energize Ministry. 6. People Skills: Managing Our Most Valuable Resource. And 7. Leadership Skills: Setting Ministers Apart from the Rest of the Sheep.

Each of these foundation stones are vital in helping a minister be the most effective he can be. The foundation stones are divided into three categories: Intimacy and Calling, Stress Management, and Boundaries and Re-Creation. The categories are laid out with the idea of building on one another as a key to having a “successful” ministry. One without the other will cause a weakness in the foundation and could leave the “building” susceptible to failure.

In section one: Intimacy and Calling the point is stressed that ministers cannot attempt to do ministry apart from others. All too often ministers become lonely and isolated and begin to pull back from close relationships often due to the various wounds sustained in the battlefield of ministry. However, this is exactly the wrong road to travel, “Human beings were never intended to function in isolation. From creation, we learn that God’s plan for us was to exist within the context of community. God declared that it was ‘not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).’”[106] The section ends with the summarizing statement, “When we refuse God’s offer of intimate relationships, he often allows us to attempt to fill the resulting ‘God-shaped hole’ with everything but God (Romans 1:21-32),’” and the authors proceed to give a sobering list of the many sins that are attempted to fill the hole.[107]

The next section really gets to the heart of the book: Foundation Stone 3, Stress Management: Avoiding Ineffectiveness and Burnout. The authors list three key factors that lead to minister’s mismanagement of stress. These factors are: Unhealthy Need for Accomplishment, Unhealthy Desire for Approval from Others, and Perfectionism and Drivenness. If these unhealthy actions are not managed appropriately, the authors warn that there is a list of health problems that will likely follow. On pages 150-152 they list several health issues that are caused by stress including, acid reflux, back pain, chest pain, colitis, constipation, stomach ulcers, teeth grinding, weight gain, and many others.

The last section of the book deals with an often overlooked area in many ministers lives, recreation. The chapter begins with a story of a thriving ministry couple who enters the author’s office to receive help,

As we spoke, it became apparent both were deep into burnout and their                                         tanks were empty. How did their lives get so out of balance? Weren’t they                                             pursuing a calling to invest in the people around them? How did they get                                to the point of wanting so desperately to abandon their ministry calling?[108]

In meeting with the couple, it is discovered that a lack of investing in themselves through recreation has been the major cause of burnout for this ministry couple. It is also interesting to note the following stats from this section in the book, “The average minister works 10.5 hours a day, 6 days a week—a total of 63 hours per week.”[109] This gets to the heart of this project. Understanding the characteristics of a pastor who is on his way to burnout and helping prevent his removal from ministry by giving him the rest and tools he needs to last in ministry and make it to the finish line. Only when a pastor can see that he is on fire can they ask for water to help put out the flames. If someone does not know they are on fire, and if the fire keeps consuming them, they will burn up. Currently, if we are looking correctly at the statistics there are thousands of pastors and leaders who are on their way to burning out. They need help. And, they need help soon before they are out of ministry. This book will help any minister assess where they are in the process of potentially burning out.

The difference between this book and Mondays with my Old Pastor is that this book is more of a practical workbook to help guide the minster through a process of discovering and preventing a ministry burnout scenario. Mondays with my Old Pastor is written more autobiographical and pulls at the heart more with emotive writing and storytelling.

Clergy Burnout

            Clergy Burnout: Recovering from the 70 Hour Work Week In this work, sheds more light on the issue of overwork in the ministry. This book is divided into two sections. Section one: Pastors in Pain carries the first five of the ten chapters in the book. The second section of the book is called, Hope and Healing. It contains the final five chapters.

The book starts with a very attention grabbing statistical analysis called, “Signs of Trouble.” The author proceeds to share statistics of the hazards of being in ministry and how many people are burning out due to statistics such as, “80% of pastors believe that pastoral ministry is affecting their families negatively. 90% of pastors felt they were not adequately trained to cope with the ministry demands. And 37% admitted having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in their congregation.”[110]

The book shares details of scenarios where pastors just cannot seem to say no and continue to pile on responsibilities and obligations on themselves until they finally are overburdened and out of control. One of the most interesting parts in this section has to do with a Codependency Graph with four quadrants highlighting the issues of Self-esteem, Self-care, and Personal Identity. The four quadrants are 1. Interdependence. 2. Hidden Codependency. 3. Hopelessness. 4. Codependency. The fastest growing quadrant among clergy according to Lehr is Hopelessness. In this quadrant he lists, despair, depression, isolation, active addictions such as substances, food, work, sex. In this, the fastest growing quadrant he also lists suicide potential, numbed feelings of “nothing matters” and “nothing ever really changes.”[111]

It is an interesting read and worthy of full consideration as a minster seeking some help or relief from burnout. Thankfully the doom and gloom of the first section gives way to the second section aptly named, “Hope and Healing.”

In this section solutions are given to the many problems discovered in the first section. Among the most outstanding is chapter 10: Knowing the Boundaries. This section may be the most helpful of the entire book as so many ministers fail or at least falsely assume that boundaries are not necessary because the work of the ministry is more organic than it is linear. Lehr states, “I have done presentations on professional boundaries for well over three thousand church professionals from a wide variety of denomination all over this nation, and I am continually amazed at how poorly these people really understand such serious matters.”[112] Through the end of this chapter the reader discovers that this is the heart of the matter. Without appropriate, professional boundaries the work of the ministry is boundless and endless. Many ministers feel it is dedication that keeps them saying yes when in reality it is actually disease. It takes real courage to actually say no, otherwise the minister will end up burned out and likely having to check in to a medical or psychological clinic to get the help and healing they need.    Lehr clarifies the issue of overwork being dedication or disease,

For eight years I watched another parade of pastors-in-pain come through the Church Renewal Center…All these pastors were engaged in an all-too-familiar struggle: to serve faithfully without losing their minds, their families, and even their souls…Over time, I came to recognize that what got these clergy rewarded in their ministries was also the very thing that was wrecking their personal, spiritual, and family lives. Congregations applaud those who never take a day off…How we admire their dedication! Or is it their disease?[113]

This is the heart of the matter in the book. The image pastors often try to put on is one of constant busyness and hurriedness. For some the busyness helps them feel important, as if all their appointments, phone calls, e-mails, and text messages replace the approval they never got from dad or mom. Church members raise the banner of victory when their pastor makes all the appointments, does the hospital visitations, prepares a home-run sermon, and follows the false heroic narrative of, “the devil never takes a day off.” Yet, that pastor is headed for a crisis and so is that church.

The strength of the book is in dealing with burnout directly and giving clear warning signs. A pastor reading this book will be able to evaluate themselves based on the findings in this book and see if they are burned out. Although Lehr gives some basic information on how to handle stress, the book is lacking in resources to help a pastor if they realize they are burned out.

The American Church in Crisis

            The American Church in Crisis is a volume that demonstrates the need for healthy ministers leading healthy churches. Whereas Clergy Burnout focuses on the various causes and attitudes that lead to burnout, this volume deals more specifically with the ministers overall health and provides various solutions for ensuring a pastor is healthy and thriving thereby allowing the church the greatest opportunity to be healthy and thriving. The book is divided into four parts. Part 1: Observation. Part 2: Evaluation. Part 3: Introspection. Part 4: Action

The first three parts deal with the overall state of the American church. Part 1 deals largely with statistical analysis of church attendance over several decades using polls such as Gallup and Barna. At the end of each chapter there are questions for reflection and discussion as well as web links for further study and analysis.

The statistics shared in the first parts of the book show a steady decrease in church attendance while there is a steady increase in the United States population. The authors surmise that the church is in even worse shape than just the basic church attendance numbers suggest. “While robust growth in the number of Americans has taken place, no growth in church attendance has occurred.”[114] The author goes on to make the connection that there should at least be some organic church growth simply based on the fact that there are over 91 million new Americans from 1990 to 2006.[115] He is drawing the conclusion that church numbers are inflated and the church is in a much more troublesome situation than is being reported,

In reality the church in America is not booming. It is in crisis. On any                                             given Sunday, the vast majority of Americans are absent from church.                                         Even more troublesome, as the American population continues to grow,                                 the church falls further and further behind. If trends continue, by 2050 the                                 percentage of Americans attending church will be half the 1990 figure.[116]

The American Church in Crisis is intended to be a wake-up call for church leaders and Christians in general. Olson draws a correlation between extinct animals and the church when he states, “Why does extinction occur. . . extinction occurs most often when a species faces a crisis or change in its environment and is unable to adapt.”[117] Olson sees the church as unable to adapt at this point and is on the road to extinction if transformation does not occur quickly.

This book is primarily written from an alarmist viewpoint and plays into the national narrative that churches are dying everywhere. Although this may be true, the weakness of the book is in the lack of positive church growth statistics that are experienced all across America and especially across the world. A more balanced approach might have been more helpful in discerning a clear and present danger.

Transforming Church

            Transforming Church[118] is based on the experience of the author and pastor Kevin Ford. In referring to his many years of ministry experience he writes, “I have encountered discouraged pastors, dispirited church members, and ineffective churches. Throughout the book the reader will follow the journey of five different churches at various stages of transformation as well as learn of people at various stages along the journey of transformation. The book has 12 chapters in total. Chapters 2-11 are broken up into two parts within the chapter itself with the first part stating the problem and the second part providing a possible solution or course of action. At the end of the book there are resources for further study and consideration in becoming a transforming church or pastor.

The main issue the author is addressing throughout the book is the need for churches and pastors to be transformed in how and even why they are doing what they are doing. Through examples and stories of transformed churches, pastors and people the author paints a picture of what could be when health and vitality are experienced by the pastor and by direct correlation, the church. He does a really good job of making the possible solutions reachable, not ethereal or “pie in the sky” type thinking. This book will give any pastor or church the opportunity to put together a game plan for transforming his life and church. The word Ford uses consistently in his book is CHANGE. Churches and pastors must change the way they are doing things if any church or person is to be transformed. Although change is clearly a key in the book, the author does not make it sound easy nor is he trite with his solutions as he states, “Transformation, in this life, never resolves itself. It’s ongoing and messy.”[119] The final chapter is a great illustration of this truth. Chapter 12 is filled with stories of people who went through very difficult times but made it through the process of being transformed.

Only a transformed church can make an impact for Christ. But why do so many churches fail in this? And how can they change?[120] For transformation to occur in churches, transformation must occur in pastors and leaders. It is extremely difficult to experience transformation in a hurry. Most pastors are in a hurry, rushing through the day, dealing with one crisis after another feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out. Pastors are never resting in the Lord but rather outracing and outpacing the Lord. Ford states, “The journey toward becoming a transforming church requires leaders who are willing to undergo their own journey of transformation.”[121] Reading and applying the principles in this book may help a pastor do exactly that.

There are many good applicable points in this volume. However, the weakness of the book lies in the fact that it, at times, can come across overly technical. Phrases such as, “Does your church have a tendency to apply technical solutions to adaptive problems”[122] can leave the reader feeling like this is more of a technical, ethereal numbers crunching manual versus a practical guide to transforming the church.

The church, of course, is not the only place where the top executives are burning out. This is also common in top business executives in America’s largest companies. There are also a number of secular business and leadership books that speak to the issue of Leader/Executive burnout. One reviewed here is one of the best-selling business books of the last decade.

 

 

Good to Great

Good to Great[123] is a best-selling business book that shows in detail how a company can go from being a good or decent company to a great company. One the transforming statements in this book is, “Good is the enemy of great.” In many ways, this book is similar to Transforming Church in that what makes a company go from good to great are many of the same transferable principles that will take a church from good to transformed or great. The book outlines pitfalls and missteps that can ruin a company. There are many principles that can be transferred from the business world to the church world today. The church can learn from some of these great companies, especially when it comes to leadership and the practice of training up others to take over many of the responsibilities that top executives handle thereby allowing the organization to grow with new vitality. The correlation is clear, when pastors hang on to all the responsibilities themselves and they do not allow others to do the work of the ministry, they add unnecessary stress and strain on themselves but in the process they will keep their church from becoming great. Although this is a secular book and not necessarily intended for a church leadership audience, the principles are clearly transferable to Ephesians 4:12 and the command for leaders to equip the church to do the work of the ministry. When leaders do not distribute the workload there is a clear and present danger of overload, stress, and breakdown.

One of the key points Collins makes is that the people around the leader will largely determine to effectiveness of the leader and the organization, “The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”[124] There are so many correlations between good business management and good church management or we might say, “stewardship,” that any pastor or leader will gain helpful insight by reading this volume.

One section in particular is worth highlighting here due to its clear connection with church vision is chapter five entitled, The Hedgehog Concept; Simplicity within Three Circles.[125] In this chapter the author emphasizes the importance of staying true to the vision of the company. The parallels that can be drawn to the church are clear. Pastors and church leaders are often running around in crisis mode substituting the urgent for the important. Collins shows how successful companies stay with a three-circle approach and have laser-like focus on the one thing where those three circles overlap. “Hedgehogs see what is essential and ignore the rest.”[126]

Putting out fires and running around to various meetings and emergencies will only get the company off course. As previously stated, Collins emphasizes hiring the right people and putting them in the right places so the main leader can focus on what they are good at. Otherwise, as seen in the church world, the pastor is stuck heading off to every emergency and making every visit at the expense of the church and the vision. While making visits and dealing with emergencies are good and necessary, they are not what make a company or church great. If Collins were discussing this as a church researcher the conclusion would be natural: The lead pastor should have someone or more than one person in that seat on the bus to handle the majority of visits and emergencies so he can keep the church moving forward with vision and clarity and direction while still taking care of the flock through equipping others for ministry as the Bible declares.[127]

This is a tremendous challenge in the church today. Many pastors and leaders feel the church is good enough, and although Collins is referring to the business world, it seems appropriate to apply his statement to the church world as well, “Good is the enemy of great.”[128] In his chapter on going from good to great one of the main items that stands out is his comment on what great companies focus on, “The good to great companies did not focus principally on what to do to become great; they focused equally on what not to do and what to stop doing.”[129] With so many “sacred cows” many churches have a hard time figuring out what not to do or what to stop doing. Ineffective ministries and programs will always keep a church from becoming great. They are a drain on resources both financially and a drain on the people as the greatest resource. These ineffective sacred cow ministries are a drain on the pastor who must try to facilitate these ineffective ministries. This takes exhaustive energy and adds stress to the pastor and leaders. If people are involved in dead programs, this often prevents them from being involved in thriving programs. If programs and ministries do not contribute to the overall vision of the church they should be stopped. However, this rarely happens and it never happens in churches that are not great. Collins states, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”[130]

Church leaders will do well to learn from this book. Many of the principles are transferable directly to church leadership and how it can operate including this clarifying statement, “Enduring great companies preserve their core values and purpose while their business strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. This is the magical combination of ‘preserve the core and stimulate progress.’”[131] The word company could be substituted for church and one would have a great strategy for church vitality. Keep the core values while endlessly adapting to a changing world. This could be a solid mandate for todays “good” churches.

The weakness of the book is that some of the companies it used in its studies did not stay great. They actually failed. This does not make the book irrelevant by any means because the principles are still transferable and many of the companies that ended up failing did what the research suggested they must not do, mainly, stray from the main mission of the company. When they strayed, they failed, certainly a good lesson for any leader or church. Someone who had to learn his lesson the hard way is best selling author and pastor Wayne Cordeiro.

Leading on Empty

            Leading on Empty[132] is an autobiographical tale of the life and ministry of the author Wayne Cordeiro. Perhaps the most helpful book on pastoral burnout and the solutions to overcoming it. This volume has the potential to do wonders for a pastor at any stage of the burnout spectrum. Cordeiro weaves the story seamlessly through personal illustrations of the feelings of burnout to times alone with God, health crises and doctor visits, sabbaticals and on to rejuvenation. The book is laid out in eleven chapters and comes with a helpful diagnostic tool at the end of the book to help a pastor determine where they are on the burnout scale.

The book is gripping from the beginning in Chapter 1: When the Needle Points to Empty. In this chapter, a vital one in setting up the rest of the book in foreshadowing the issues to come, Cordeiro starts with the attention-grabbing statement, “Observing the lives of many forty-something leaders, I saw unmistakable signs of burnout already emerging. When the first signs of burnout appear, it’s time for a break.”[133] Cordeiro’s goal in this book is to help pastors recognize the signs of burnout and get help, rest and renewal before its too late. He noticed his own health including, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual deteriorating to the point where he felt as though he may literally be dying. A striking realization in chapter two is one many pastors today could use,

I hadn’t realized that as a pastor I was involved in a vocation that had a                                          dismal track record. It might be the pressures involved, or it could be the                                                 high expectations. But in either case, I found that a large number of those                            in pastoral ministry did not finish well.[134]

In this chapter Cordeiro lists statistics and other research findings about the hazards of being in the pastoral ministry. The author does a stellar job of explaining some of the causes of burnout including the high expectations that are placed on pastors, “If I’m taking a break or on vacation within the state, people have no problem calling me back for a funeral or a newly surfaced marriage crisis.”[135] The constant and unrealistic expectations continued to mount until finally, he broke, “After thirty years of this weekly pattern, the pressure of coming up with one more inspirational sermon had me worn down, but I couldn’t stop the train. I was expected to lead on empty. . .I was fixing everybody’s problems except my own, and I needed time to replenish my spirit.”[136] The book takes the reader on a journey that many pastors will resonate with. From disgruntled church members to growing expectations and the feelings of exhaustion and looking for a way out.

In chapter eight the reader is given a glimpse into the lessons learned by this well accomplished long time pastor. He lays down seven lessons learned from the battlefield of ministry. 1. Do not overproduce. 2. Steward your energy. 3. Rest well. 4. Exercise your way to recovery. 5. Eating your way to a good life. 6. Recharge daily. 7. Fight for your family.[137] Each of these seven lessons learned can help any pastor or leader prevent and/or overcome burnout and leading on empty. Toward the end of the book the author poses a thought-provoking scenario when he writes of the importance of pastors taking a sabbatical and how so many pastors and leaders in ministry resist, “However, a common response to a sabbatical is, ‘I just don’t have the time.’ But I’d like you to consider this: How deep is your hunger and how fruitful is your soul? These are critical issues.”[138] The reality is, the decision to have a sabbatical and more fruitful ministry is the responsibility of the pastor himself.

The weakness of the book in the fact that at the time the author wrote this book his church had climbed past 10,000 people in attendance. With most churches in America being under 100 people it could be easy for the reader to feel a disconnect between what he was saying and what they may be experiencing. However, pushing that aside the reader could experience the stress and overwhelming feeling of exhaustion and never ending expectations the author wrote about. This book causes the reader to evaluate their own life and ministry and question personal practices and disciplines for the purpose of bringing hope and healing through leading oneself. Self-leadership is the main topic in the next book.

 

 

The Travelers Gift

            The Travelers Gift is a fable about life and leadership. The book walks the reader through a process with its main character, David Ponder, while he learns vital lessons about life and leadership. Each of the lessons in this book are transferable to pastors and Christian leaders. The book speaks of seven decisions that must be made for a person to be truly happy and content. The first decision is The Responsibility Decision,

What most of the people… don’t seem to understand is that responsibility                                                is not about blame or making someone feel bad about their situation.                                              Responsibility is about hope and control. You feel more hopeful when you                        spread this vastly different perspective about responsibility—you can                                           control your future!”[139]

This statement is a great reminder that pastors are not trapped. Pastors can put boundaries, parameters, and schedule in days of rest and vacation and Sabbaths in order to bring rest and renewal. As Andrews says, “The buck stops here, I will accept responsibility for my past. I understand that the beginning of wisdom is to accept the responsibility for my own problems and that by accepting responsibility for my past, I free myself to move into a bigger, brighter future of my own choosing.” This is an important reminder to the pastor who feels there is no escape and no end to the constant barrage of requests for his time. Often pastors feel trapped in the position they are in. Many pastors would actually choose another profession if they thought they could do something else and make a living, however many do not feel they can make a living do something else.[140]

The second decision Andrews writes about is the decision to seek wisdom. Similar to Mondays with My Old Pastor by Navajo and Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro the key to turning around the burned out feeling was to seek wisdom. Each of those pastors sought and found wisdom in trusted relationships. In the Traveler’s Gift the second decision is one of great importance, “I will be a servant to others. I will listen to the counsel of wise men. I will choose my friends with care. I will seek wisdom.”[141] Unfortunately, statistics show many pastors are not seeking wisdom when it comes to the issue of burnout, yet it is vital and a key to overcoming it.

The fourth decision deals with having a decided heart, not being wishy-washy and not sticking to commitments, with the main commitment being a commitment to a better self. The fifth decision is about choosing to be happy and focusing on the good things and blessings in life. When pastors are on the road to burnout one of the signs that they are in fact on that road is they begin to see things in a negative light and depression begins to set in. Choosing to be happy is a decision that has to be made daily, “Happiness is a choice. Happiness is the end result of certain thoughts and activities, which actually bring about a chemical reaction in my body.”[142] The sixth decision is to have a forgiving spirit. One might think this is a natural for a pastor. However, the reality is that pastors get wounded quite often and those wounds take a long time to heal and many pastors carry the burden of bitterness and unforgiveness, which only adds to the weight of burnout. “I now understand that forgiveness has value only when it is given away. By the simple act of granting forgiveness, I release the demons of the past about which I can do nothing, and I create in myself a new heart, a new beginning.”[143] Making this decision in daily life would make a huge difference in lightening the load of pastors everywhere.

The seventh decision is to Persist without Exception. When overwhelming stress and burnout strike and a pastor cannot see beyond the daily routine, often, their first inclination is to give up and give in. This is one main reason only 10% of pastors ever retire as pastors.[144] To make it through a difficult season of ministry, the decision to stay and persist must be made before the inevitable exhaustion sets in. The seventh decision states, “I acknowledge that most people quit when exhaustion sets in. I am not ‘most people.’ I am stronger than most people.”[145] Having a determined mind and heart is a key to gaining victory from the jaws of defeat.

This book can help any pastor because the seven decisions are easily transferable to the ministry mindset. Not only that, but like the American Church in Crisis this book gives clear steps to help make it out of the pit of despair and failure. The practical application of the books principles, though simple principles, will not be easy for todays pastors or churches to implement.

 

 

It Only Hurts on Monday

It is interesting to note that this is the oldest book in the review (1998) and yet all of its principals and findings are still true today. This is why this book is included in the findings and this gets to the heart of this project. There desperately needs to be some improvement or pastors will continue to leave the ministry and churches will continue to close at rapidly increasing rates.

There has been virtually no improvement in the statistics for pastors and burnout since the research was completed for this book. As a matter of fact, things have actually gotten worse for pastors. The book begins with this attention grabbing statement in all capital letter, “PASTORS ARE QUITTING.”[146] An accurate and updated follow up to that is, “Pastors are STILL quitting.” This is an ever increasing and alarming trend. Churches that continue to burn pastors out have a much harder time gaining and sustaining momentum and a much greater likelihood of failing. “The average tenure for pastors among all Protestant churches is 2.3 years.”[147] Later the authors state, “Research indicates that the most effective churches are those in which the pastor stays for a long time.”[148] This is the goal of this project, helping pastors stay for a long time by identifying the characteristics of burnout and avoiding them.

The book takes the reader through the various ways a church can help their pastor stop hurting on Mondays. Perhaps the most important line of the entire book, which happens to correlate well with the previous book reviewed Seven Decisions, states, “PASTOR, IF YOU ARE SUFFERING in your current ministry, there is hope. The person with the greatest power to affect your situation is you.”[149] Pastors cannot play Martyr and must take the initiative to request a break and take the time to relax, recharge and refocus. One of the most helpful parts of the book is a quick reference section of 40 things a church can do for their pastor to help make sure he is not hurting on Mondays. Each of the 40 items mentioned are still very applicable and helpful for pastors today.

 

When Not Taking a Break is Deadly

When Not Taking a Break is Deadly[150] is an article from Inc.com that highlights the health hazards of overworking. While this is not directed at pastors specifically, the principles contained within the article are very much transferable to the pastoral profession and the exhaustion levels that come with it. The article’s main target is hospital employees and standard hand-washing protocols. These health saving protocols are ignored at an 8.7% rate when employees are exhausted and have not had a break on their normal shift. The most interesting part is later in the article when it states, “If hand hygiene compliance rates increased by 8.7% across the board during a typical work shift, this could potentially eliminate as many as 1.2 million infections per year, save up to $25 billion, and prevent up to 70,000 unnecessary deaths in the United States.”[151] The article goes on to say compliance rates returned to normal after the employee had a break. It is not too much of a stretch to see the application for a pastor who is dealing with people and their spiritual health. Rest, rejuvenation and recovery are vital in the ministry just as they are for hospital employees. Perhaps, if this regiment of rest were followed by pastors and church leaders we would see less than the 1,700 pastors a month leaving the ministry and more than the 10% of pastors retiring a pastor.[152]

The weakness of this article is in that the survey conducted was a small, localized sample. Greater clarity and accuracy would come from a more national survey in various parts of the country. Although this is an article and not specifically addressing pastors it is clear that fatigue and exhaustion lead to various mistakes. The most helpful part of this article is in explaining that tired workers put their patients at risk of disease and even death. The correlation may be a stretch but worthy of mentioning that pastors place their congregations at risk when they are tired and not getting their proper rest. The practice of regular rest is currently one of great interest in the business world, yet it still has yet to catch up with the church leadership world even though the concept itself comes from God all the way back to Genesis and Adam and Eve. The principles found in this article are very similar to some of the principles found in the various works already reviewed in this study but in particular it has many similarities to Leading on Empty. The author Wayne Cordeiro almost died of a heart attack because he was not taking time to properly rest and rejuvenate before heading back to work. There is also crossover from this article to the important biblical principle of the Sabbath. God designed humans to work and rest. It is not supposed to be one or the other, but both in conjunction with each other. Taking time to rejuvenate and refresh will make people more alert, productive, and safe in the workplace and the church.

 

Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church

            In the final literature review, Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church: When my personal deterioration changed direction, so did our congregation[153] Pastor Lenny Luchetti shares his experience of taking over a dysfunctional church. He transparently shares of the pain and suffering he went through trying to be all things to all people. His comments are typical of many pastors today,

After two years there (the average tenure for the past five pastors), I was a            wreck.                                     I was physically unhealthy. I’d gained nearly 20 pounds . . . Unhealthy patterns                               of sleep, diet, and exercise dissipated my social, creative, and mental energy. I                    was a well that had run dry.[154]

This article is a testimony to what many other pastors are experiencing across the country in ministry. This is exactly why so many do not make it in the marathon of ministry. The warning signs are everywhere that there must be changes made or churches will continue to lose more and more pastors. Luchetti heeded the warning signs and became one of the winners of the battle of burnout. He writes of the changes he made,

My prescription for health involved several significant commitments . . . I                                      began running three to five miles four times per week. The physical                                              exertion made me tired enough (to sleep) about eight hours daily, instead                                        of my typical five or six . . . Healthy habits of sleep and exercise positively                            impacted my diet . . . my energy level increased considerably . . . Physical                                              well-being paved the way for emotional and relational health.[155]

As previously stated, pastors do have a way out without giving up or getting kicked out of their position. There is a prescription and Luchetti’s own prescription can save others as well. Pastors will benefit from reading the article in its entirety because so many pastors will resonate with exactly how the author was feeling. His poor eating habits and lack of exercise was literally killing him and his church.

The article gives real hope to any pastor who feels on the verge of giving up due to poor exercise and eating habits. This will help pastors last longer in ministry thereby giving their churches the best chance to grow and thrive. The pastor is responsible for his or her health and well being. Sometimes pastors feel trapped, as if they cannot take rest and receive renewal. Pastors must take responsibility for their stress and exhaustion before it becomes inescapable burnout.

The article is an eye opener for any pastor on the verge or in the middle of burnout. The strength of the article is in its succinctness and clarity of the solution. The weakness of the article is that it may leave some pastors discouraged because they are unable to do what Luchetti did in buying a treadmill, getting off work early and making the necessary changes that provided him the opportunity to lose the weight and get on the pathway to health. He had an understanding and willing church board and leadership that allowed him do what was necessary to become and healthy pastor leading toward a healthy church. This may not be the case for all pastors. However, the lesson must be learned, unhealthy physical and dietary habits not only kill people and pastors, but it can kill the church by rendering it ineffective.

Conclusion

Each of the books, articles and literature under review offered a very clear and present danger that pastors and leaders are experiencing stress, exhaustion, and burnout at an alarming rate. This failure may be due to their own causes and lack of boundaries and even poor motivations. However, many pastors and leaders start out with the right heart, the right passion, and the right desire to please God and serve his people. They just seem to forget that pastoral ministry is a marathon not a sprint. The sprinters fall with exhaustion, stress, and burnout while the marathoners keep moving with health and vitality toward the finish line to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”[156]

Insights from the Literature Review

There were several insights gained through the review. Primarily, that there are identifiable characteristics that show leaders are burned out or on the road to burning out. These characteristics are wide ranging and include a lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, unhealthy physical and dietary habits, periods of loneliness, spiritual dryness and increased conflict in the church and in their lives. Although there are other characteristics that may surface, they generally are shown to a lesser degree in the various books of the literature review.

Summary

The books reviewed in this chapter represent recent scholarship on the difficulties and challenges facing pastors and leaders, their families and their churches. More attention is necessary on this topic in order to equip pastors and leaders to identify the characteristics they are exhibiting at an earlier phase of their development in order to prevent burnout. If pastors and leaders can be better equipped to identify the characteristics of stress, exhaustion, and burnout and deal with these challenges it will be of great benefit to themselves, their families, their churches and the organizations they lead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

Research Design and Findings

This doctoral project used Content Analysis research in an attempt to identify underlying themes and patterns of burnout among pastors in the United States of America. The Talbot School of Theology Doctor of Ministry Program Doctoral Project Manual describes this type of research as,

This type of project attempts to identify underlying religious themes or                             unarticulated assumptions by analyzing written materials. For example,                           you could use content analysis to identify attitudes toward women by                               analyzing sermons preached by popular preachers in different decades. You                         could use content analysis to study popular religion and analyze the most popular             books being read by laypeople in order to compare the official doctrines of their    denominations to the beliefs of the average churchgoer.[157]

Thus, this project focused primarily on analyzing the content of books and articles written to describe and warn pastors of the dangers of stress on life and ministry.

This doctoral project attempted to answer the question, “Are there identifiable characteristics of pastoral burnout?” The question assumed that there are many pastors who are burned out or on their way to burnout without realizing it.

Description of Proposed Solutions

The primary goal of the research was to identify characteristics of burnout in order to reduce the overwhelming number of pastors who continue to leave the ministry. If characteristics can be identified early enough, not unlike when a disease is discovered at an early stage, a cure can be more likely. The benefits of pastors remaining in the ministry and fulfilling their calling include and are not limited to a greater likelihood of a thriving personal life and church that grows in health and vitality.

Research on the characteristics of pastoral burnout has been completed by numerous people. This project, however, sought to draw the finding of researchers and writers together into an article written for publication in a magazine or journal that may inform pastors of the latent dangers of burnout.

Assessment Instruments

There has been much researched and analyzed concerning pastoral burnout. The research goal was to find common themes and characteristics of pastors on their way to burnout by analyzing the various books, articles, magazines, journals and well respected blog posts concerning pastoral burnout and even executive burnout in the secular world. By reading thousands of pages of books, journals and various articles a distinctive pattern began to emerge concerning characteristics of pastors who had experienced burnout or are on their way to experiencing pastoral burnout.

Timeline for Conducting Project

            The project was conducted between November 2015 and November 2016 by reading, researching, and discovering the dynamics of burnout at various stages. Over the course of time and research it became clear that there are discernable patterns of behaviors in pastors that more than likely lead to burnout and an abandonment of their ministry calling.

Findings

 

A chart was developed to illustrate the frequency of seven common characteristics of burnout as they are referenced in the various books studied and mentioned in the literature review. Although some may not have directly referenced each topic, for example, if rest was mentioned but not recreation, the check mark was still given. On the left side of the chart descending vertically the authors last names are listed in the order they were reviewed. The top of the chart lists the characteristics horizontally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source Lack of Rest and Recreation Discouragement Unrealistic Expectations Financial Pressure Unhealthy Exercise and Eating Habits Spiritual Dryness Conflict in the Church
Bible
Navajo
Wilson and Hoffman      
Lehr    
Olson    
Ford    
Collins    
Cordeiro  
Andrews      
McIntosh and Edmonson
Stillman          
Luchetti  
TOTALS 12 11 11 9 8 7 5

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

The characteristics of stress, exhaustion, and burnout are seen in the chart above. This is not an exhaustive list, rather it encapsulates some of the common characteristics that pastors and leaders experience as they lead their churches and organizations. For the purpose of this project there were at least seven characteristics studied throughout the Bible and literature on the subject. Listed in order by highest number of mentions are the following; Lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, unhealthy exercise and eating habits, spiritual dryness, and conflict in the church.

Chapter four has described the research involved in this doctoral study. Chapter five presents the results in the form of an article written for publication.


 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

Problems in the Pulpit

Being a pastor can be the most rewarding jobs one could have. Knowing that what one is doing is making an eternal impact and not just a temporary one can lead to incredible satisfaction in one’s job and life. Being the hands and feet of Jesus to a group of people that look to the pastor for spiritual direction, counsel, and biblical authority can lift the ego of the pastor in making him or her feel needed, important and confident they are where God wants them to be.

Pastors have a multitude of responsibilities that fill their plate. They must prepare messages (usually more than one per week), lead their staff and/or volunteers, make hospital visits, cast vision, keep everyone on the same page, meet with the board and elders, officiate weddings, funerals, baby dedications and baptisms. Yet, they need to be there for their family while leading them to the Lord and being an example to their extended family, friends, neighbors, Little League and PTA. The pastor’s job is not nine to five. Quite often, it’s twenty-four hour availability with all access passes to their privacy with texting, Facebook messaging and other social media connections like Instagram. Therefore, the pastor is never truly off. This causes a myriad of problems in their life.

Recent studies report that 90% of pastors do not retire from the ministry rather they burnout, quit, or have a moral failure.[158] Another report declares that over 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month.[159]   This all is shocking, particularly in light of Jesus’ words

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.[160]

If Jesus’ burden is light, why do so many pastors apparently burnout?

This is not only an issue that Christians have, but the mainstream media has reported the trend as well. For example, the New York Times recently published an article stating, “1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure. . . . Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.”[161] These numbers are alarming and reflect the writer’s own personal observation of colleagues who have experienced such failures.

The negative effects are not limited to the church. The pastor’s families often feel the effects at a more intense level than even the congregation. Researcher Richard Krejcir notes that 50% of pastors will end up divorced.[162] The same study showed that an average of 1,300 pastors were terminated per month, many without cause. This causes tremendous stress, worry, and fear in families. According to Krejir, Vitello, and others, pastors are leaving the ministry feeling overwhelmed while experiencing extremely high levels of exhaustion, stress, and burnout at alarming rates.

The Problem

The health and vitality of churches is dependent upon the health and vitality of pastors. The numbers are so alarming that they cannot be ignored. There is a clear correlation between the declining health and well-being of pastors and the declining health, well-being and influence of churches. Krejcir states,

  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.[163]

This does not bode well for America’s churches. If pastors are declining in health, morality, energy and longevity, the implications for the church are likely the same. Evidence continues to mount for this devastating trend. For example, Gene Wood illustrates the reality of the church in America,

  • In the past decade the communicant membership of all Protestant denominations has declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242) while in the same period the national population has increased by 11 percent (24,153,000).
  • We close 72 churches a week or 10 per day in America.
  • As many as 85 percent of America’s Protestant churches are plateaued or
  • Of the 350,000 churches, some 60,000 report not a single convert in a year’s time.[164]

Leadership expert Aubrey Malphurs states, “Currently 80 to 85 percent of American churches are either plateaued or dying with no revival in sight.”[165] This trend of failing pastors and failing churches cannot continue if the church is to be effective in its calling here on earth.

The battle begins with the pastor. How long a pastor stays has much to do with the growth or lack of growth in the church. Church growth expert Charles Arn states,

There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church                                           growth.  While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-                                  growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a                          growing church with many short-term pastorates.[166]

Churches may find it very difficult to trust pastors who do not stay long. This leads to declining attendance, questions and arguments among church members, division within the church and naturally less giving as more and more people leave the church. And, even if the church succeeds in calling a new pastor, it will take time to build trust and relationships to the point where the church can thrive. According to Arn,

Several years ago a study by the largest Protestant denomination in the country                             found a startling relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their                                     churches, and the growth or decline of those churches. Approximately 3/4 of their                 growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church more                           than four years, while 2/3 of their declining churches were being led by pastors                            who had been in their church less than four years.[167]

The problem becomes clearer as we see the correlation between trust and time in the same church. With the average tenure of a pastor being just three to four years[168] one can see how difficult it is to get a church growing on a consistent basis. Each time a new pastor comes in the rebuilding process begins. As the studies show, long-term consistency in the pastoral role can lead to church health and growth. However, short-term pastoral tenure can lead to broken relationships, disillusionment and limited effectiveness for the church the pastor leaves. Often , pastoral burnout and its related causes are the main reasons for these short-term tenures.

The pastor may not even know if he is burned out or burning out. Many times what a pastor needs is a long-term break or Sabbatical. But, for various reasons, many pastors simply do not take the much needed time off. Often, it seems, pastors view ministry like a sprint instead of a marathon. This can lead to workaholism, depression, fatigue, adrenal failure and various other health issues. Former Mega-Church pastor and author Mark Driscoll states,

It was go, go, go, and at some point my body just couldn’t go anymore…I                                                 couldn’t shut down. I couldn’t sleep. I’d fall asleep for an hour, wake up, and then                  be up all night. I’d be exhausted but unable to sleep. I had adrenal fatigue.[169]

It should be noted that shortly after the above article was written, Mark Driscoll lost his job as pastor of his church for what was reportedly, “outbursts of anger, bullying and conduct unbecoming of a pastor.”[170] It would appear, based on the evidence, he was indeed burned out. Perhaps, had he been able to understand that he was on the road to burnout, he could have taken time off to rest and recuperate and then be ready for the next phase of ministry in his local church. However, burnout often goes unnoticed and untreated.

            There is much research on the subject proving that many pastors are burned out or on the road to burnout and if caught early enough they may be able to save their ministry and their family. Some of the common characteristics of burnout include a lack of time off to rest, recharge, refuel and enjoy some recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure and unhealthy physical and dietary habits. Pastors are dealing with large levels of discouragement brought on by criticism and other job stresses. They constantly deal with large amounts of stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, discouragement and health issues. Add to that mix they are working long hours for little pay while feeling a sense of loneliness all while doing God’s work and that is a recipe for disaster. By reading this article, pastors will be encouraged to make immediate changes for the health and vitality of their life and ministry.

This article describes five common characteristics of pastors who are on the dangerous path to burnout. Resources are provided for pastors who are struggling with one or more of these characteristics. This article has multiple audiences in mind. It is for pastors who are currently in ministry and may be experiencing one or more of the characteristics of burnout. Second, this article is written to those who desire to be a pastor one day and will find it helpful to be further prepared by reading the contents of this article. Third, this article is also intended as a warning to those who may not be aware that they are experiencing the characteristics of burnout and need to make immediate changes to avoid becoming another pastoral statistic. Finally, it is intended for denominational, church plant networks, and organizational leaders who desire to see their pastors and leaders survive and thrive in ministry.

By identifying some of the common characteristics of pastoral burnout it may help prevent some pastors from becoming burned out. If more pastors and leaders are on the track to health, growth, and vitality we should expect more churches to be on the path to health, growth, and vitality.

Identifying Characteristics of Pastoral Burnout

The occupation of pastor is a very demanding one. The conditions lead many pastors to overwork, not take breaks, vacations, or sabbaticals. This lack of personal renewal leads to a spiritual dryness that is a perfect fuel for the fires of burnout. There are many troubling statistics on pastoral burnout and many of the statistics are shared based on what has happened to pastors and leaders who could not or did not recognize the characteristics of burnout. I will identify some of the common characteristics of a pastor on the road to, or in the middle of, burnout. Each of the characteristics identified below and supporting research is provided to illustrate the grave reality that there are common characteristics that burned out pastors possess that are reversible if action is taken quickly and decisively. The first common characteristic frequently mentioned is a lack of rest and recreation.

 

Lack of Rest and Recreation

Pastors face a myriad of responsibilities during the day. Not only are they on call during the day but often, many pastors do not have proper boundaries in place so they are on call twenty-hours a day seven days a week. Their heart to serve causes them to want to be the good guy or the one the congregation can always count on. However, it is this heart to serve and help others that becomes a double-edged sword. Being on all the time comes with a high price tag. Having one’s plate full by always being ready for the next call, email or text message means something won’t fit on the plate. The first thing to go is rest, recreation, and renewal. New York Times writer Paul Vitello states, “But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.”[171]

To get good rest means to disconnect entirely, to have no responsibilities, and if necessary to get out of town far enough away that if there is a crisis the pastor couldn’t do anything about it even if he wanted to. Although getting out of town may not always be possible every single week, it is important to do so at least annually. On a weekly basis, it may be just a day or two a week where the phone is turned off and the email is not checked and rest and recuperation is the main focus of that day. This is important because if the pastor has any feeling of connectedness to the congregation while on a break, the temptation will be too great to just “check in” and see how things are going. He may check his email or social media contacts and see what is going on and just like that he may find himself back in the vortex of ministry demands.

New York Times writer G. Jeffrey MacDonald states, “The American clergy is suffering from burnout, several new studies show. And part of the problem, as researchers have observed, is that pastors work too much. Many of them need vacations.”[172]

To get the rest pastors need means they will need to have boundaries and not let people encroach or break down those boundaries. Henry Cloud notes, “Workers who continually take on duties that aren’t theirs will eventually burn out. It takes wisdom to know what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t. We can’t do everything.”[173] However, many pastors fall into the trap of thinking they can do everything, or at least they feel they need to try to do everything. In the process they are burning out and the ministry is not benefitting from an on call 24-7 pastor, the church actually becomes less healthy and less of a biblical church community where ministry is shared among the believers. As Peter Scazzero states, “The overall health of any church or ministry depends primarily on the emotional and spiritual health of its leadership.”[174] One prominent pastor learned this the hard way,

I found myself sitting on a curb weeping uncontrollably… I knew something had                           broken inside… I had been leading on empty. That incident began a three-year                             odyssey I could never have imagined. It was a journey through a season of                                     burnout and re-calibration that would radically change my lifestyle, my values,                           my goals, and even adjust my calling.[175]

Many pastors thrive off the adrenaline rush that ministry can provide. They become addicted to being busy and working tirelessly. For this reason, it is important that pastors schedule in rest before their calendar is full of appointments and meetings. However, many pastors do not do this. Pastors seem to have a need to feel indispensable, but the reality is everyone is indeed replaceable. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro writes,

This may be a rude awakening, but the fact is, the world will go on even if                          we are not involved for a day. . . the world will also go on after we depart                                           this life. I know it’s difficult to contemplate but it is true. When we rest at                                         predesignated intervals, we are reminding ourselves that ultimately God                                      controls the outcomes, not me or all of my wonderful efforts. It’s good                                             for us to wean ourselves off the need to be needed. . . that will be the                                              beginning of health.[176]

If a pastor will not take the time off needed for rest, his body will become more susceptible to colds, headaches and other illnesses. “Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.”[177] As human beings we can choose rest or our bodies will force us to rest by breaking down, either way our bodies will rest and recalibrate even if it is through sickness and disease. We get to choose, rest now on a schedule or be forced to rest when we do not get to schedule it. As Cordeiro writes of his doctor’s instructions about his lack of rest, “Wayne, . . . if you keep this pace up, you will have a heart attack . . . soon! You either take a break, or I can give you some medication.”[178] Unfortunately, many do not heed this advice and suffer the consequences for it. Running on empty while trying to fulfill every obligation that comes a pastor’s way is a prime cause of discouragement.

Discouragement

            A second characteristic of burnout is the feeling of discouragement. Discouragement can come in many forms, though mainly through conflict, criticism, and division within the church. It should be no surprise that the average pastoral tenure is between three and four years.[179] That’s just about the time the honeymoon is over and people begin to feel comfortable enough to let the pastor know how they really feel. The pastor may have been going along well for the first three or four years and then it may seem sudden that there are issues. The pastor may have been in a pain free ministry zone for those first few years but he was not in the reality zone. Senior Pastor Philip Wagner says, “For many years, I didn’t equate ‘leadership’ with ‘pain.’ I equated leadership with vision, strength and success. I see it differently now.”[180]

Pastoral leadership can be wrought with strife and problems that may seem like only the strongest can navigate through and bring to a peaceable solution. When criticism is levied, the pastor may not feel like addressing those who are criticizing. He may feel it is more Jesus-like to simply “turn the other cheek” for fear of offending someone. This only adds to the discouragement. And, this is not the Jesus way, Jesus confronted and he even offended. Jesus even said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.”[181] On many occasions Jesus confronted those who needed it, especially the Pharisees. Pastors have to love those in their congregation enough to speak the truth, even at the risk of offending. Bevere states,

Jesus showed that offenses will actually purge those who are not truly                                           planted by His Father. Some people may join churches or ministry teams                                              but have not been sent by God or are not of God. The offense that comes                               when truth is preached reveals their true motives and causes them to                                           uproot themselves.[182]

When criticisms pile up and discouragement mounts it becomes difficult for the pastor to see the vision God has given them for the ministry. It has been said that complaints speak louder than compliments. A pastor can receive fifteen compliments on their Sunday sermon and one complaint about the same message, and the complaint is the one that will stay with them.[183] It is unfortunate yet it is human nature. Criticism often leads to conflict and conflict is one of the main reasons pastors get discouraged and leave churches. Forty percent of pastors report at least one serious conflict with at least one parishioner at least once a month.[184] This becomes overwhelmingly discouraging for pastors. Counselor and author Fred Lehr states, “90 percent of pastors felt they were not adequately trained to cope with the ministry demands placed upon them.”[185] Feeling ill equipped and underprepared while being criticized is discouraging and leads to pastoral burnout.

It is sad that the average pastor gives up and leaves because of seven critics.[186] If he has a church congregation of 100 then that means potentially ninety three percent of those in the congregation are not critical or displeased with the pastor, yet pastors leave because of an average of seven critics. The pastoral ministry is difficult enough, add to that criticism and unappeasable people in the church and the conclusion many pastors are drawing today causes them to throw up their hands in defeat wondering if it is really worth the trouble. This discouragement leaves a pastor with the feeling that they can never live up to the expectations of their congregation.

Unrealistic Expectations

Pastors can be their own worst enemy. Their heart to serve and please people can backfire when they are just not able to live up to the lofty expectations of their church. Saying no is challenge for most pastors. Many will keep saying yes to more demands until it is too late as Lehr states,

For eight years I watched another parade of pastors-in-pain come through                                      the Church Renewal Center, a specialized treatment program designed                                        exclusively for church professionals . . . All these pastors were engaged in                                      an all-too-familiar struggle: to serve faithfully without losing their minds,                                            their families, and even their souls . . . Over time, I came to recognized                                       that what got these clergy rewarded in their ministries was also the very                                         thing that was wrecking their             personal, spiritual, and family lives. After                                         all, congregations love those who just can’t say “no.”[187]

Every pastor is limited. However, congregations hold out high expectations for their pastors. They often treat them like they are limitless. “Churchgoers expect their pastor to juggle an average of 16 major tasks.”[188] These expectations are far too heavy for anyone to carry. Pastors are not superhuman, they are human with limitations like everyone else. However, many pastors feel obligated to be there for anyone at any time. Cordeiro states the dilemma he had while on vacation, “If I am taking a break or on vacation within the state, people have no problem calling me back for a funeral or a newly surfaced marriage crisis.”[189] This type of “on call” availability does not allow the pastor to disconnect and recharge. Even knowing that there is a need back home will cause him to fret and worry what others might think, causing more stress while on vacation. Cordeiro states, “It’s a Catch-22, if I do not return, I may be accused of not caring. It seems impersonal and insensitive to reply, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to come. I’m on vacation.’”[190] Many surveys show that this is the case with pastors everywhere. They do not put up boundaries and all too often try to meet the unrealistic expectations of their congregations. Pastors fear the criticism that may come with admitting their own limitations. However, it is in the confessing of their limitations that freedom to be who they are meant to be in life and ministry comes. Pastor and Author Peter Scazzero states,

I spent a large part of my years as a leader trying to be someone I was not.                                                 I attended conferences and read books that promised a church with                                                    the best and brightest programs, if only I would be and do as their leaders.                          I didn’t get the message. I could not do anything I wanted. Yes, I had                                              gifts and potentials. But I also had limits given to me by God as a                                                           gift.”[191]

Every human being is limited, on purpose and for a purpose. “Even Jesus apparently joyfully embraced the limits given him by his Father in heaven.”[192] Pastors’ purpose is not to be able to do everything everyone demands of them as that will only end up causing health problems and sorrow. Limits must be acknowledged and pastors must learn to say, “no” to all unrealistic expectations.   According to the Washington Post, [193]

  • 84 percent of pastors say they’re on call 24 hours a day.
  • 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming

When pastors say yes to everything, they are saying no to something, namely their health, well being, and their family.

Today’s congregations are relentless. They are demanding primarily because they are used to getting what they want. In general, pastors do not join the ministry to be a concierge, fulfilling every whim and desire of the congregant. However, in today’s consumerist culture, many pastors are finding they must choose between pleasing the masses and keeping their jobs or going against the masses and paying a heavy price. MacDonald writes, “The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them.”[194] If pastors decide to appease the masses instead of heeding the call of scripture to equip others to do the work of the ministry[195] then pastors can expect more stress, overwork, and burnout to follow. However, no matter how many people are participating in the ministry of the church, one characteristic can cause a pastor to leave more than many others. Many pastors are struggling to make ends meet. The constant high demands of ministry typically come with a low salary.

Financial Pressure

            Pastors are among the highest educated yet lowest paid professionals in the country. “80% have a bachelor’s degree and half have a master’s degree placing the pastorate among the most educated professions – but among the lowest paid as well.”[196] Thom Rainer says,

Many pastors are under extreme stress because they do not have adequate income                                     to meet their financial obligations. . . a pastor can find his thoughts consumed                                  with worry. Because he is so distracted, he naturally is less effective in his                            ministry.[197]

If a pastor is concerned about putting food on the table for his family, one can be sure, that pastor will not last long in his current role. If he is feeling the stress and the strain of making ends meet and meeting the needs of his own family, it will be nearly impossible for him to focus on meeting the needs of his congregation.

Although there are a few exceptions of highly paid pastors, the vast majority are underpaid for their education level and for the hours of work they put in per week. “There is a misperception among some church members that the pastor is overpaid. Most pastors are by no means overpaid. Some church members will use one bad example to paint a broad stroke about all pastors.”[198]

There is no guarantee that a well-paid pastor would be immune to burnout, but it is much more likely that an underpaid pastor will suffer from burnout. Whenever stressors are added to an already stressful job, it is a major characteristic of burnout.

Although salary compensation is part of the equation, another financial stressor for pastors is a lack of savings for retirement. Many pastors have nothing saved for retirement. According to Rainer, “Some Boomer pastors will stay at their current positions into their late 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, a number of these pastors are not financially able to retire.”[199] This is not healthy for the church.

If a pastor hangs on to their position out of financial need and not out of calling and gifting and vision, they hamper the potential growth and vitality of the church. They may be burned out and still doing their job, but they really just a shell of the person they are supposed to be. That is not a healthy model. Churches should take care of the pastor years before retirement to make sure they would be able to comfortably retire and be honored for the hard work they have done for the Lord in the ministry. When the pastor can retire and be a blessing to the church by leaving a legacy of good work and the church can be to the pastor by allowing them to retire, this is a healthy church model. Yet, only 1 in 10 pastors will actually retire as a pastor.[200] Some pastors burnout prematurely because they just can’t make it physically. The stress and strain of the demands of the job lead them to make poor choices with their diet and physical fitness habits.

Unhealthy Physical and Dietary Habits

When it comes to the health of a pastor, he ranks near the bottom of professionals in terms of healthy lifestyle, eating habits and regular exercise. According to the New York Times,

Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and                                      depression at rates higher than most Americans.  In the last decade, their                           use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has                                           fallen.  Many would change jobs if they could.”[201]

It is a devastating cycle that leads to massive burnout. It starts with the pressure to perform, add to that the pressure of expectations and then on top of that the financial pressure and it all becomes too much. MacDonald writes about the dilemma facing today’s Pastors,

As a result, pastors are constantly forced to choose, as they work through                                     congregants’ daily wish lists in their e-mail and voice mail, between paths                                    of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security. As                                    religion becomes a consumer experience, the clergy become more                                          unhappy and unhealthy.[202]

In order to combat this problem, pastors must get regular exercise, eat healthy foods and as already has been discussed, get good rest. However, burned out pastors are not getting the exercise or the necessary nutrition or sleep they need. As the demands on their life and ministry increase, their health decreases as noted above. Pastors need to build up margin in their physical bodies in order to handle the rigors of the job, “Maximum bodily strength and efficiency depend upon three factors: sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Only a body that is well rested, properly exercised, and correctly fed will be able to maintain its energy reserves in the face of serious stress.”[203] Without these margins, the stress of unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise will only compound the stress of the job and lead to a quicker burnout.

Until recently, this has not been a subject talked about at much length in pastoral ministry profession. However, with the high rate of pastoral dropouts many congregations and denominations are taking a closer look.

The health of any organization’s workforce is important to its overall success and productivity. The church gets no religious exemption from this requirement. Just as many companies have begun to look more seriously at the health and well-being of their employees, many denominations also have begun to look at the health of the clergy that serve in their churches. [204]

Denominations and churches are realizing that just as the secular business world is focusing on the health and well-being of their employees to enhance their bottom line, the church is needing to realize that healthier pastors can lead to healthier churches which can lead to healthier congregations which can, in turn, enhance the bottom line of the gospel. This is wise even from a business standpoint for the church because healthy pastors equal healthy churches which equal healthier offerings.

A healthy pastor is not a guarantee for church growth, but an unhealthy pastor is almost a guarantee for a dying or declining church and at least it is a problem for denominations everywhere. “Clergy work-related poor psychological health, stress, and burnout pose an increasingly serious problem for the leaders of denominations throughout the world . . .”[205]

Many pastors are overweight and out of shape. As reported by Fox News, one pastor came face to face with the reality of his situation when he stood up in front of his church and said, “Good morning, I am Pastor Doug and I am obese.”[206] Pastor Doug Anderson stunned the congregation with his honest evaluation and said it was the beginning of a new life for him that would include regular exercise, diet changes and healthy habits from now on. To his credit, he is one example of how a pastor can change his life and change his congregation. Pastor Doug was well on his way to being another burnout pastoral statistic, but he changed course. “Three months later he was 50 pounds lighter, healthier, and filled with new energy and vitality. More importantly he says that he is a healthier pastor for his church, a healthier husband for his wife, a healthier father for his children.”[207]

There is a key factor mentioned above to beating burnout, as the pastor became healthier he gained more energy and vitality, which is of course the opposite of burnout. Pastor Anderson was experiencing one of the key characteristics of burnout, namely, lack of energy, poor eating habits and weight gain. He found a viable solution and turned it around and so can other pastors as they recognize these debilitating characteristics of burnout.

 

Solutions and Resources

Scheduling Rest and Recreation

There has been an unwritten rule in pastoring that says you must show that you work harder, longer, and move at a faster pace than anyone else. The unspoken message is to be a busy body. Leisure? Rest? Recreation? Well, as many old timers have said, The devil never takes a day off. While that may be true, our example has never been the devil. The importance of taking time to rest, reflect and refuel cannot be overstated. It is a reminder that all things do not depend on us. And, it is a reminder that God is still in control and always will be in control regardless of a pastor’s tireless work ethic.             Taking vacation and extended time away for rest and recreation should not be optional in the pastoral profession. Critics may point out that there are lazy pastors who may take advantage of this benevolence. Well, there are lazy people who get vacation in their secular jobs too. Lazy people will always exist and always try to manipulate the benevolent system set up in their particular area of work. But this must not prevent pastors from taking time to be still and know God.[208] This must not prevent pastors from enjoying God’s creation with recreation and enjoying time to refuel their physical, emotional and spiritual batteries.

For many pastors to accomplish this goal they will need to schedule in rest and recreation in the same way they schedule in appointments for their busy days. If rest is not scheduled it can easily get pushed to the bottom of the list of importance. As Peter Scazzero states in his book on rest, “The essence of being created in God’s image is our ability, like God, to stop. We imitate God by stopping our work and resting.”[209] When it comes to the issue of scheduling time, there is really only one person responsible for making this happen no matter how busy a person may be, that responsible person is the pastor himself.

No one else can set these boundaries for you. All great leaders know, or come to recognize, that they must do it for themselves—that is, if they want to be the kind of leaders who sustain themselves over the course of many years and through all sorts of change and upheaval.[210]

Knowing that rest and recreation are on the schedule can actually increase the serotonin levels in one’s brain. Serotonin is one of the brains happy chemicals. Studies show that serotonin and dopamine (also a happy chemical in our brain) levels increase as we anticipate our vacation or time off and they skyrocket as we enjoy our time away.[211] Regularly scheduled time away is a major factor in defeating discouragement.

Defeating Discouragement

Discouragement can come from a variety of sources including criticism, lack of purpose, questioning one’s calling and even a lack of action by the congregation after a great sermon. One of the primary ways to defeat discouragement is through what has already been stated in scheduling rest and recreation. This is of great importance in having a renewed mind and heart and being ready to fight the good fight. However, there are many other ways to defeat discouragement. One of the most effective ways is to connect with other people, pastors and even strangers in the community for social support, laughter and even some fun.

It is no secret that pastors are in the crisis management business. Just this morning as I sat down to write this chapter in my office at 7:30 A.M. I was interrupted by a desperate man who flung open the front door of the office and clearly was not in his right mind. This person went on and on telling me of his fear that the end of the world is here and he is not ready for the world to end. Among other things he told me of his schizophrenic psychiatric diagnosis and how much he needs some help.

Emergencies and interruptions like this are fairly common experiences for many pastors. Pastors may have plans for the day, but inevitably they get sidetracked or interrupted by a crisis or emergency that robs the emotional fuel from their tank. This can cause great discouragement due to the fact that pastors feel they can never get to the end goal of the day or week or month because something or someone is always changing the end goal for them. This discouragement can often lead to depression.

According to national studies, pastors experience depression and anxiety at a much higher rate than society as a whole. One study found, “The depression rate was 11.1 percent for clergy – double the then national rate of 5.5%.”[212] The aforementioned characteristics are included as reasons for this depression. Pastors often feel isolated from “real life” and disconnected from meaningful relationships due to their role as the perceived spiritual police. The same study found, “Pastors with less social support – those who reported feeling socially isolated – were at higher risk for depression.”[213] Another study by the Clergy Health Initiative examined the practices of some the United Methodist Ministers healthiest leaders and found that many of them met in social groups with people outside their own congregation. [214]

Reverend Chip Webb spends many mornings sipping coffee at the local McDonald’s in Pfafftown, North Carolina talking with people from the community. “Many of the people he chats with each morning are not members of his congregation and he relies on those conversations for outside perspective.”[215] Reverend Webb who was one of the subjects of the study mentioned above commented that, “The reality is it feeds my soul, and I’m able to feed other people, emotionally and spiritually.” A welcome goal for pastors is exactly that, to be able to feed people emotionally and spiritually. By being around others who have no expectations of the pastor, he may feel a sense of realness and relief he does not regularly experience. Regularly being able to just be and not have to be “on” is a key factor in a pastor’s mental health. It is especially important that the pastor gets together with other pastors who share the same burdens and expectations and pressures of ministry. This allows him to open up about his feelings not feel like he is isolated in ministry. This provides great relief to realize others face the same things and together everyone can be encouraged. This also helps expectations become more realistic and less overwhelming.

Drawing the Line on Expectations

Every pastor, male and female, are limited human beings. However, many pastors act as though they are unlimited in their energy and in their ability to meet everyone’s expectations. This leads to burnout, depression, anxiety and the many downfalls already mentioned. As one pastor says,

I began to realize that it’s not enough to have a compelling vision for your                          community. To lead change in the church, I needed to be aware of the                               expectations people had of me as a leader…Leading change in the church                            demanded I learn to manage people’s expectations.”[216]

Managing people’s expectations is a process that is learned over time in the pastorate but can be extremely beneficial the sooner a pastor learns how to do this. Often a pastor learns the hard way that he cannot be all and do all for all because he ends up in a hospital or divorced or unemployed or all of the above. Pastors must realize they cannot be unlimited in anything, only God is unlimited and when pastors try to meet unrealistic expectations they are essentially acting as though they are God. They must draw a line on expectations.

An important solution to this consumerist culture in the church is to equip the church to do the work of the ministry as the Bible teaches.[217] Ministry was never intended to be a solo sport. If anyone could have gone solo, it would have been Jesus. Yet, Jesus led by example and gathered twelve disciples and trained them and sent them to do the work of the ministry. The Great Commission is clear, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you . . .”[218] The churches mandate is to teach the Bible and help people live out God’s purpose for their lives.[219] The pastor is not the only one who should do this. There are other gifted people who may not have the title of pastor but are gifted at teaching the Bible and doing other work in the ministry that can help carry the load. If the pastor is the only one doing all the ministry work then fewer disciples will be taught and more exhaustion and eventually burnout is likely to come to the pastor. As new disciples learn and grow they become more and more useful in participating in the work of the ministry. The process of making disciples is meant to be a team sport. According to scripture, every believer has something to contribute to the building up of the church.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the                                             pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the                                       body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in                                       the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the                                        whole measure of the fullness of Christ.[220]

When everyone in the church is utilizing their gifts, a healthy church system can be formed where the church is on mission in reaching the lost, teaching them to obey, and allowing them to participate in using their gifts by serving in the church and reaching those outside of the church. Part of making disciples is the understanding that not everyone has the same gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”[221] When each believer’s gift is being utilized, health and growth are more likely to come to the church and the pastor or pastors of that church will more than likely be spared from experiencing some of the characteristics of burnout.

The reality is there will always be one more meeting, one more emergency phone call that comes in after closing time and one more person that must speak with the pastor because it cannot wait until morning. To be sure, there are legitimate emergencies and the pastorate is not always a 9-5 job. However, pastors can only produce so much and then they must take time to recharge. As Wayne Cordeiro states,

I don’t have to tie myself to an imaginary, unrelenting cycle to produce      more, make more, or try to outdo last week’s numbers. I have just so much    time in the day, and I want to do what I can with all my heart involved.      When the clock runs out, then I say, “Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have          more”. . . I want to leave time to recharge.[222]

Taking time to relax and recharge is a reminder that God is the only one who is unlimited and it is a reminder that he is the only one who can truly meet someone’s expectations. Yet people are often dissatisfied with God and complain that he doesn’t meet their expectations, so, one can conclude that pastors most certainly won’t meet everyone’s expectations and should not even attempt to meet all the unrealistic expectations that are put on them. The most important expectation to meet is God’s, after that, well, come back tomorrow, and I’ll have more, is well said. One expectation that is hard to meet are the financial expectations and obligations a pastor must try to fulfill, often with a meager salary.

Financial Pressure Release

Unless churches are suddenly and exponentially going to increase pastors’ pay then pastors will always be under financial pressure. This is a reality most pastors live with. A rightly motivated pastor does not get into the ministry for the money. However, this does not mean that a pastor should be chronically underpaid. It seems many churches take advantage of the soft and willing heart of the pastor to serve and simply under pay him even when they may have the means to pay him more and bring his salary and benefits to a more equitable level with people who are making more than them but with similar education and training.

Low pay is one of the primary reasons many pastors experience stress and burnout and end up leaving the ministry for a better way to make a living. According to recent studies, “Most evangelical pastors in America struggle to make ends meet but will not open up about their financial difficulties.”[223]

Low pay and a lack of benefits may be the greatest indicator of future pastoral burnout. When dealing with people’s emotional and spiritual issues on a daily basis and then realizing they are grossly underpaid it is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back and causes a pastor to reconsider his calling. It becomes an issue when considering the risks and rewards of being in pastoral ministry. This is not to say that an overpaid pastor is unlikely to experience burnout, only that an underpaid one is more likely to experience burnout sooner. Many pastors must take second and third jobs in order to help make ends meet as they believe they are doing what God has called them to do and they continue to strive to make it work to the detriment of their overall well being. “Unsurprisingly 90 percent of pastors said they experienced financial stress and nearly a third were forced to take a second job to fund their families.”[224]

The solution here is a challenge due to most churches being under 100 people and giving is at a minimum in congregations of this size. However, some things can be done. Currently, the National Association of Evangelicals is coming alongside churches to help them better fund their pastors. They are providing resources for thousands of churches in areas of training, resourcing and even funding. Another solution is making sure the pastor is paid appropriately for a similar non-profit organization with similar income. There are many church compensation studies available to view. However, this is not the best way to determine a pastor’s salary. These compensation studies often compare one low paying church to another and come up with a median low paying salary. This does not help an already low paid pastor.

One of the most accurate ways to determine a proper salary for a pastor is to have an organization like the Church Law Group[225] do a salary compensation study. The Church Law Group compares other non-profit companies within a reasonable radius of the church. They then put together a document showing a scale of low, fair, and generous salary and benefits packages. They compile this data based on what other similarly educated, trained and experienced non-profit leaders are getting paid for similar income non-profit organizations including secular, church and para-church non-profit organizations. This is tremendously helpful for churches and pastors to be able to determine what is a good pay rate. Although a highly paid pastor does not guarantee an effective ministry, an underpaid pastor almost always guarantees a more stressed out and emotionally exhausted pastor and less effective church. Take care of the pastor who takes care of the church and the burnout epidemic will decrease exponentially. When pastors have financial stress that leads to them needing another job, which leads to more stress and less time to take care of themselves through good physical fitness and healthy eating habits.

Exercise and Healthy Eating

The constant grind of ministry can easily put the priority of exercise and healthy eating on the backburner. The problem with putting exercise on the backburner is that it eventually catches up. Each pastor must decide how they want to pay, but they will pay for their choices one way or another. They either invests upfront by disciplining themselves to pay attention to their physical and dietary health with regular exercise and healthy eating or he pays later by getting sick more often and having to take days off due to various illnesses and hospital stays.

Pastors spend much of their time sitting. Whether they sit in the office at the computer returning emails or working on a message, they are often sedentary. From the office they likely have many lunch meetings and appointments around food and more sitting. It is just too easy to add extra unhealthy weight as a pastor. As one study found, “The stress of another job, along with long hours and demands of leading a congregation, seem to make it difficult to stick to healthy habits such as a nutritious diet, exercise and time to recover from mental stress that leads to weight gain.”[226]

For so many pastors it becomes a vicious cycle of pressure, being busy, facing unrealistic expectations, not taking time off, feeling the stress of financial pressure which causes them to get another job and then they are so busy they eat what is either in front of them or what is convenient without scheduling time to exercise and recuperate. “Pastors are an integral part of the most intimate aspects of community life — marriages, deaths, births — and these often entail food, it’s part of the culture.”[227]

In order for a pastor to be healthy they must eat healthy and exercise regularly. This is common knowledge yet too many pastors do not do this. The obesity rate for pastors is over 30%.[228] Each pastor needs to make it a priority to become healthy. This must be a priority if a pastor is going to do all he is called to do. Unhealthy physical and dietary habits can short circuit a pastor and a church’s potential.

The prescription is not easily followed because there are multiple commitments when it comes to one’s health.

My prescription for health involved several significant commitments. I                               purchased a treadmill and began running three to five miles four times per                                 week. The physical exertion made me tired enough to fall asleep by 10:00,              not midnight. I slept about eight hours daily, instead of my typical five or                                  six.[229]

Just as poor dietary and physical habits lead to a vicious negative cycle, good dietary and physical habits lead to a positive cycle of change and vitality. “Healthy habits of sleep and exercise positively impacted my diet. I was motivated to eat fruit for breakfast, a salad with chicken for lunch, and a sensible dinner.”[230] One good thing leads to another good thing and the cycle continues. This is often a very difficult thing for a pastor to do on his own. Therefore, it is important for a pastor to seek out a group to help him increase his motivation. “The researchers found that clergy members who take a day off each week, take a sabbatical, or belong to a support group of other pastors had a lower risk of obesity.”[231]

There is hope and healing in groups of like-minded individuals. Pastors understand other pastors and their struggles. When a pastor knows they are in the fight with other pastors this can have a long lasting positive effect on both the pastor and their church. Many pastors feel lost in the constant grind of ministry and don’t know where to start.   To help pastors get started on the road to health and vitality, the following are some resources that are available to all pastors.

  • Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs[232]
  • A List of Pastoral Retreat Counseling Centers and Renewal Centers, Free or Discounted[233]
  • Pastoral Development Endowments[234]
  • Free Financial Counseling for Pastors[235]
  • Care, Counseling, Rest and Renewal for Pastors and their Families[236]
  • Free Vacation Homes and Vacations Sites for Pastors[237]

These are just some of the resources available to pastors and their families. Many of these resources are free or come at steep discounts for pastors and their families. A simple Google search of “Pastoral Care” will find a myriad of resources ready to be accessed by those in ministry. The resources are there, the pastor simply needs to take advantage of them. And, take advantage of them regularly in order to prevent ministry burnout.

Conclusion

It is no secret that injury prevention is key in sports. Professional teams spend millions of dollars on injury prevention for their athletes. They know the investment means keeping the player on the field or in the game. They view their work as vital to helping an athlete make it through the long season uninjured thereby giving the team the greatest chance to succeed. This concept can also be applied to the “sport” of ministry. The fact that only 1 in 10 pastors actually retire as a pastor[238] shows that injuries are occurring at an all too frequent rate in the “sport” of ministry. Injury prevention must become a priority in pastoral ministry.

To illustrate how poor a statistic 1 in 10 pastors retiring as a pastor really is, let’s continue with the sports theme and take the world famous Boston Marathon, which had 33,000 runners start the race in 2014. 98.4 percent of the runners completed the 26.2 mile marathon,[239] which is an amazingly high completion rate. Now, imagine if only 10% of those 33,000 runners completed the race. That would be only 3,300 runners out of 33,000 that started the race would actually complete the race. The Boston Marathon would be famous for all the wrong reasons and would not continue putting on the race if that were the case. It would soon cease to exist because runners would stop signing up knowing it was just too grueling and the odds of finishing were just too long.

In pastoral ministry this is exactly what is happening all over the nation. Here is the reality, the research shows that out of 33,000 pastors that begin the marathon of ministry only 3,300 will actually reach the age of retirement and retire from ministry. This is a very discouraging statistic to those who may consider joining the ministry. Many will avoid this race because it is just too hazardous an occupation! However, there is hope. Just as injury prevention is key in making it in the Boston Marathon, injury prevention is key in making it in ministry.

By identifying common characteristics of pastoral burnout, and then adhering to the solutions mentioned here, a pastor can make the necessary adjustments to prevent further harm to themselves, their families and their ministries. If they find themselves burning out in the middle of the race they can make a mid-course correction to revitalize themselves, their families and their ministries in order to not just survive and make it to the finish line in the marathon of ministry but to thrive in the marathon of ministry.


 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6

Conclusions and Recommendations

Pastoral ministry can be hazardous to one’s health. Extreme caution must be taken when considering the pastoral role. It is a calling that can become a curse if steps are not taken to prevent burnout. This doctoral project sought to answer the question, “Are there identifiable characteristics of pastoral burnout?” The answer is yes! Specifically, pastors may experience some common characteristics of pastoral burnout including a lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure and a lack of exercise and poor dietary habits. Pastors may experience one or all of these characteristics which commonly lead to pastors leaving their churches and often leaving ministry altogether.

Overview of the Project

This project was presented in six chapters. The first chapter introduced the need, the focus, and outline of the study. Chapter two described the biblical and theological support for understanding ministry burnout. Chapter three gave an overview of the main literature used in the study. Chapter four noted the basic design of the research. The article written for publication was placed in chapter five. Finally, chapter six presented the conclusions and recommendations.

Implications of the Research

This doctoral research project was conducted to identify some common characteristics that burned out pastors face. Although there are often many common characteristics a pastor experiences when heading toward burnout, the focus of this project was five common characteristics. Identifying these characteristics is helpful to pastors, to those who support pastors, and perhaps seminaries and Bible colleges, as well as denominational and church planting networks. These organizations will find that there has been a missing link in the training of their leaders. They may be able to discover how to keep pastors in ministry longer by making them stronger and better equipped for the long marathon of ministry. Knowing that these are common characteristics and areas of struggle for pastors can help denominations, organizations, colleges and seminaries develop realistic expectations for their leaders while also providing support and encouragement.

Future Research

There are several areas of future research that could prove beneficial to preventing pastoral burnout. First, research could be conducted to determine at what point in a pastor’s ministry does he begin to feel the effects of burnout. For example, is it most common in year three, four, five, or ten?   Second, research could be conducted to determine if the likelihood of burnout increases with the increase in the size of the church. In other words, does burnout become more common when the church is larger and has multiple staff members, or does burnout become more common among smaller churches with a solo pastor as the only staff member.

Third, research could be conducted to determine if there is a particular denomination or multiple denominations that tend to see burnout among their pastors more often than others. Are there organizations or denominations that have certain expectations that are written or unwritten that cause the pastors of a particular denomination to burnout at a faster rate than other pastors. Research could be done to discover if there is pressure to report a constant increase in attendance numbers, giving amounts, salvations, and baptisms, and if these numbers are in any way tied to bonuses, promotions or salary increases, etc.

Finally, research could also be done to determine if there are denominations and organizations that mandate sabbaticals, vacations, time off, etc. The goal would be to find out if there are discernable patterns in healthy growing churches and denominations that show pastoral retention at higher rates than the national average.

Conclusion

It is clear that there are identifiable characteristics of pastoral burnout in pastors. These characteristics include a lack of rest and recreation, discouragement, unrealistic expectations, financial pressure and a lack of exercise and poor dietary habits that commonly lead pastors to burnout. Although each pastor experiences these characteristics to varying degrees, many pastors struggle with one and often all of these characteristics. As a result, pastors and churches are negatively impacted and suffer the consequences of these characteristics. More often than not, these characteristics are not identified early enough and the pastor simply quits without warning. The result is shortened tenures and a lack of growth in churches where pastoral burnout has occurred. Pastors are regular people who like everyone else need love, encouragement, grace, support, forgiveness, patience, and rest. It is the hope of this project that the research provided here will help pastors, church leaders, church members, denominations and organizations identify these characteristics early enough to prevent another pastor from burning out.

 

 

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VITA

 

NAME:                       Jeremy H. McGarity

BIRTH:                       March 22, 1971 – San Diego, California, U.S.A.

EDUCATION:           Christian Heritage College                              B.A.                   1999

Major: Biblical Studies

Azusa Pacific University                                M.A.                  2001

Major: Religion

Azusa Pacific University                                MDiv.                2005

Major: Master of Divinity

Talbot School of Theology                             D.Min                2016

Candidate

EXPERIENCE:           Youth Pastor, Bonita Wesleyan Church                          1998-2001

Adult Ministries Pastor, High Desert Church                             2001-2007

Founding Pastor, Seven San Diego Church                 2007-Present

[1] Richard J. Krejcir, “Statistics on Pastors: What’s Going on with Pastors in America?” Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562 (accessed May 31, 2014).

[2] Rick Booye, “Overcoming Pastor Burnout. Don’t Quit Yet.” http://www.sharefaith.com (Accessed May 30, 2014).

[3] Matt. 11:28-30 New International Version Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.

[4] Paul Vitello,“Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work.” http://www.nytimes.com (accessed June 2, 2014).

[5] Krejcir, 1.

[6] Krejcir, 2.

[7] Gene Wood, Leading Turnaround Churches (St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2001), 34.

[8] Aubrey Malphurs, Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century, 2nd ed.(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 13.

[9] Charles Arn, “Pastoral Longevity and Church Growth.” November 4, 2012, accessed February 22, 2016 http://wesleyconnectonline.com/pastoral-longevity-and-church-growth-charles-arn/

            [10] Arn, 3.

[11] Thom S. Rainer, “The Dangerous Third Year of Pastoral Tenure.” June 24, 2014, accessed March 13, 2015. http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-dangerous-third-year-of-pastoral-tenure-121984/

            [12] Mark Driscoll, “’The Survivor’ Mark Driscoll on burning out, getting healthy, and not giving up on the local church,” Leadership Journal 35, no.1 (Winter 2014): 38.

[13] Nicole Menzie, “Mark Driscoll Asked to Step Down From Ministry,” August 8, 2014, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/mark-driscoll-asked-to-step-down-from-ministry-dropped-by-acts-29-network-he-founded-124553/

[14] Richard J. Krejcir, “Statistics on Pastors: What’s Going on with Pastors in America?” Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562 (accessed May 31, 2014).

[15] Lisa Cannon Green, “Former Pastors Report Lack of Support Led to Abandoning Pastorate,” LifewayResearch.com, accessed November 8, 2016, http://lifewayresearch.com/2016/01/12/former-pastors-report-lack-of-support-led-to-abandoning-pastorate/

[16] Green, 1.

[17] Ephesians 4:11

[18] Acts 20:28

[19] 2 Timothy 4:2

[20] Ephesians 4:11-12

[21] Pew Research Center. “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” Pewforum.org, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/Pew Rese

[22] 1 Timothy 5:17

[23] Acts 2:47

[24] Thayer and Smith. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon. Boston: Hendrickson, 1995. Accessed November 8, 2016. http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/ekklesia.html.

[25] Romans 10:9

[26] Acts 2:42-44

[27] Hebrews 10:25

[28] Ephesians 1:22-23

[29] 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

[30] Galatians 5:22-23

[31] Acts 1:8

[32] John 13:35

[33] Ephesians 5:25-27

[34] Dr. Philip E. Ayers, What Ever Happened to Respect?: America’s Loss of Respect for Pastors, (Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2005) 11.

[35] Matthew 28:19-20

[36] Isaiah 61:1

[37] Luke 19:10

[38] Ephesians 4:11-12

[39] John 10:10

[40] John 13:35

[41] Luke 19:10

[42] Luke 15:7

[43] Ron Sylvia, High Definition Church Planting, (Ocala, FL: High Definition Resources, 2004), 26.

[44] Matthew 28:19-20

[45] Ephesians 2:10

[46] Ephesians 4:12-13

[47] 1 Corinthians 7:7

[48] Galatians 2:10

[49] James 1:27

[50] Matthew 5:13-16

[51] 2 Corinthians 2:11

[52] 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

[53] Acts 7:22

[54] Exodus 18:17-23

[55] Exodus 18:19-20

[56] Ephesians 4:12

[57] Acts 13:22

[58] Psalm 4:1

            [59] Psalm 71:2

            [60] Psalm 17:1

[61] Psalm 86:6

[62] Psalm 71:22

[63] Psalm 38:15

[64] Psalm 40:1-3

[65] 1 Kings 18:21

[66] 1 Kings 18:27

[67] 1 Kings 19:3

[68] 1 Kings 19:4

[69] 1 Kings 19:2

[70] Luke 10:39

[71] Luke 10:40

[72] Luke 10:42

[73] Genesis 37:5

[74] Genesis 37:26-28

[75] Genesis 37:36

[76] Genesis 39:19-20

[77] Genesis 41:33-36

[78] Genesis 50:20

[79] 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

[80] 2 Corinthians 11:24

[81] Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffman. Preventing Ministry Failure:a guide for pastors, ministers and other care givers. (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 244.

[82] 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

[83] 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

[84] Luke 5:15-16

[85] Luke 10:38-42

[86] Matthew 11:30

[87] Genesis 3:28. Unless otherwise noted, all biblical references are from the The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[88] Exodus 16:23.

[89] Numbers 15:32-36.

[90] Psalm 127:2, “Today’s Living Bible.

[91] Matthew 14:23

[92] Mark 6:31

[93] Mark 4:37-39

[94] Mark 4:40

[95] Navajo, Jose Luis. Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need is a Reminder. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012) 3.

[96] Navajo, 163.

            [97] Navajo, 5.

[98] Navajo, 10.

[99] Navajo, 20.

[100] Navajo, 27.

[101] Navajo, 27.

[102] Navajo, 50.

[103] Navajo, 116.

[104] Navajo, 118.

[105] Wilson, Michael Todd and Brad Hoffman. Preventing Ministry Failure: A Guide for Pastors, Ministers and other Caregivers. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007).

[106] Wilson, Michael Todd and Brad Hoffman. Preventing Ministry Failure: A Guide for Pastors, Ministers and other Caregivers. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 51.

            [107] Wilson and Hoffman, 60.

[108] Wilson and Hoffman, 250.

            [109] Wilson and Hoffman, 262.

[110] Lehr, Fred. Clergy Burnout: Recovering From The 70 Hour Week… and Other Self-Defeating Practices (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2003).

            [111] Lehr, 36.

[112] Lehr, 114.

[113] Lehr, 57-61.

[114] Olson, David T. The American Church in Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2008), 58.

[115] Olson, 59.

[116] Olson, 22.

[117] Olson, 154.

[118] Kevin G. Ford; Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2007).

[119] Ford, 208.

[120] Ford, 22.

            [121] Ford, 212.

[122] Ford, 197.

[123] James Collins, Good to Great (Harper-Collins, New York, NY. 2011), 13.

[124] Collins, 62.

[125] Collins, 90.

[126] Collins, 91.

[127] Ephesians 4:12.

[128] Collins, 13.

[129] Collins, 11.

[130] Collins, 11.

[131] Collins, 195.

[132] Wayne Cordeiro, Leading on Empty (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009).

[133] Cordeiro, 18.

            [134] Cordeiro, 32.

[135] Cordeiro, 34.

[136] Cordeiro, 34.

[137] Cordeiro, 142.

[138] Cordeiro, 185.

[139] Andrews, Andy. Andrews 2 in 1-Traveler’s Gift & Mastering the 7 Decisions (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. 2002), 45.

[140] Krecjir, 3.

[141] Andrews, 65.

[142] Andrews, 130.

[143] Andrews, 168.

[144] Krecjir, 4.

[145] Andrews, 201.

[146] Gary McIntosh and Ron Edmonson, It Only Hurts On Mondays. (Carol Stream, IL: Church Smart Resources), 5.

[147] McIntosh and Edmonson, 6.

[148] McIntosh and Edmonson, 7.

[149] McIntosh and Edmonson, 167.

[150] Jessica Stillman, “When Not Taking a Break is Deadly.” http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/when-not-taking-a-break-is-deadly.html?cid=sf01001

[151] Stillman, 2.

[152] Krecjir, 2.

[153] Lenny Luchetti, “Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church: When my personal deterioration changed direction, so did our congregation,” Leadership Journal 35, no.1 (Winter 2014): 53-55.

[154] Luchetti, 55.

[155] Luchetti, 55.

[156] Matthew 25:21

[157] D. Bruce Seymour. Talbot School of Theology Doctor of Ministry Program Doctoral Project Manual (La Mirada, CA: Talbot School of Theology, 2014), 5.

[158] Richard J. Krejcir, “Statistics on Pastors: What’s Going on with Pastors in America?” Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562 (accessed May 31, 2014).

[159] Rick Booye, “Overcoming Pastor Burnout. Don’t Quit Yet.” http://www.sharefaith.com (Accessed May 30, 2014).

[160] Matt. 11:28-30 New International Version Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.

[161] Paul Vitello,“Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work.” http://www.nytimes.com (accessed June 2, 2014).

[162] Krejcir, 1.

[163] Krejcir, 2.

[164] Gene Wood, Leading Turnaround Churches (St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 2001), 34.

[165] Aubrey Malphurs, Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century, 2nd ed.(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 13.

[166] Charles Arn, “Pastoral Longevity and Church Growth.” November 4, 2012, accessed February 22, 2016 http://wesleyconnectonline.com/pastoral-longevity-and-church-growth-charles-arn/

            [167] Arn

[168] Thom S. Rainer, “The Dangerous Third Year of Pastoral Tenure.” June 24, 2014, accessed March 13, 2015. http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-dangerous-third-year-of-pastoral-tenure-121984/

            [169] Mark Driscoll, “’The Survivor’ Mark Driscoll on burning out, getting healthy, and not giving up on the local church,” Leadership Journal 35, no.1 (Winter 2014): 38.

[170] Nicole Menzie, “Mark Driscoll Asked to Step Down From Ministry,” August 8, 2014, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/mark-driscoll-asked-to-step-down-from-ministry-dropped-by-acts-29-network-he-founded-124553/

[171] Paul Vitello, “Taking a Break From The Lord’s Work.” August 1, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/nyregion/02burnout.html?_r=0 (accessed June 1, 2016).

[172] Jeffrey MacDonald, “Congregations Gone Wild.” August 7, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/opinion/08macdonald.html (accessed January 23, 2016).

[173] Henry Cloud, Boundaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 27.

[174] Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 20.

            [175] Wayne Cordeiro, Leading on Empty (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009), iv.

[176] Cordeiro, 126-7.

[177] Camille Peri, “Sleep Loss: 10 Surprising Effects.” February 13, 2014, accessed May 5, 2015 http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss?page=3.

[178] Cordeiro, 36.

[179] Arn, 2.

[180] Samuel R. Chand, Leadership Pain (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015), 82.

[181] Luke 17:1 (NKJV).

            [182] John Bevere, Bait of Satan (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014), 109.

[183] Tim Peters. “10 Real Reasons Pastors Quit Too Soon” http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/161343-tim_peters_10_common_reasons_pastors_quit_too_soon.html (accessed February 23, 2016).

[184] Fred Lehr. Clergy Burnout: Recovering From the 70 hour Week . . . and Other Self-Defeating Practices (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2003), 62.

[185] Lehr, 62.

            [186] Rick Warren. “The Value of Leading From One Place Of Ministry Long Term.” August 13, 2015, http://pastors.com/the-value-of-leading-from-one-place-of-ministry-long-term/ (accessed February 12, 2016)

[187] Lehr, 58.

[188] H.B. London. Pastors at Greater Risk, (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2003), 66.

[189] Cordeiro, 34.

[190] Cordeiro, 34.

[191] Scazzero, 138.

[192] Scazzero, 139.

[193] Jen Hatmaker. “How A Consumer Culture Threatens To Destroy Pastors.” September 8, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/09/08/how-a-consumer-culture-threatens-to-destroy-pastors/ (accessed September 14, 2015)

[194] MacDonald, 2.

[195] Ephesians 4:11-12

            [196] Daniel Sherman, “Clergy Burnout Statistics.” January 2, 2014, http://www.pastorburnout.com/clergy-burnout-statistics.html (accessed June 5, 2015).

[197] Thom Rainer, “Five Things You Should Know About Pastor’s Salaries.” December 17, 2012, http://thomrainer.com/2012/12/five-things-you-should-know-about-pastors-salaries/ (accessed February 2, 2016).

[198] Thom Rainer, “Seven Reasons The Pastor’s Salary Can Be A Source Of Tension.” June 25, 2014, http://thomrainer.com/2014/06/seven-reasons-pastors-salary-can-source-tension/ (accessed January 4, 2016).

[199] Thom Rainer, “What Happens When Boomer Pastors Retire?” September 17, 2014, http://thomrainer.com/2014/09/happens-boomer-pastors-retire/ (accessed February 23, 2016).

[200] Krejcir, 3.

[201] Paul Vitello, “Taking a Break From The Lord’s Work” August 1, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/nyregion/02burnout.html?_r=0 (accessed June 1, 2014).

[202] MacDonald, 2.

[203] Richard Swenson, M.D. Margin. How to Create the Emotional, Physical, Financial, & Times Reserves You Need. (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1992), 125.

[204] Lovett H. Weems Jr., “Clergy Health, A Review of Literature,” January 2009, http://www.gbophb.org/assets/1/7/FTL_Clergy_Health_Lit_Rev.pdf (accessed February 23, 2016)

            [205] Christopher A., Lewis, Douglas W. Turton and Leslie J. Francis. 2007. Clergy Work-Related Psychological Health, Stress, and Burnout: An Introduction to this Special Issue. Mental Health, Religion and Culture. 10, no.1 (January): 1-8.

            [206] Scott Stoll, M.D. “Fat in Church” January 4, 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/03/obesity-epidemic-in-america-churches.html (accessed February 19, 2016).

[207] Stoll, 1.

[208] Psalm 46:10

[209] Peter Scazerro, Daily Office. (Barrington, IL. : Willow Creek, 2008), 100.

[210] Henry Cloud, Boundaries for Leaders. (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2013), 198.

[211] Nicolas Goh, “Your Brain On Vacation; 11 Proven Benefits for Taking Time Off,” Verztec.com, July 12, 2012, (accessed September 1, 2016), http://www.verztec.com/blog/index.php/2012/07/your-brain-on-vacation-11-proven-benefits-of-taking-time-off/.

[212] Proeschold-Bell, R.J., Miles, A., Toth, M. et al. J Primary Prevent (2013) 34: 439. doi:10.1007/s10935-013-0321-4 (Accessed May 5, 2014)

[213] Proeschold-Bell, et al., 2.

[214] Proeschold-Bell, et al., 3.

[215] Kate Rugani, “How Can Clergy Achieve Positive Mental Health?” FaithandLeadership.com, 2016, accessed September 8, 2016 https://www.faithandleadership.com/how-can-clergy-achieve-positive-mental-health

[216] Michael Binder, “‘Failing Them Softly’: Disappointing People’s Expectations is Inevitable,” Leadership Journal 35, no.2 (Spring 2014): 30.

[217] Ephesians 4:11-12

[218] Matthew 28:19-20

[219] Ephesians 2:10

[220] Ephesians 4:12-13

[221] 1 Corinthians 7:7

[222] Cordeiro, 116.

[223] Harry Farley, “Low Pay, No Savings and Financial Stress: The Reality for Evangelical Pastors,” Christianity Today 2016, accessed June 16, 2016, http://www.christiantoday.com/article/low.pay.no.savings.and.financial.stress.the.reality.for.evangelical.pastors/84984.htm

[224] Farley, 1.

[225] http://churchlawgroup.com/our-services/

[226] Robert Preidt, “For Pastors, It’s Easy to Pack on the Pounds,” Healthday, January 15, 2015, accessed September 12, 2016, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/misc-weight-news-704/for-pastors-it-s-easy-to-pack-on-the-pounds-695461.html

[227] Terry Lee Goodrich, “Once Among the Healthiest of Professions, Clergy Seeing a Spike in Obesity,” BaptistNews.com, January 14, 2015, accessed September 12, 2016, https://baptistnews.com/article/exercise-sabbaticals-prescribed-for-clergy-obesity-new-study-says/#.V9cWQDsd5E5.

[228] Goodrich, 1.

[229] Lenny Luchetti, “Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church,” Leadership Journal 35, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 55.

[230] Luchetti, 55.

[231] Goodrich, 2.

[232] http://www.cpx.cts.edu/renewal

[233] http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/march/free-or-discounted-getaways-for-pastors.html

[234] https://cpcmc.org/pdmt-endowments/

[235] http://www.josephsangl.com/2009/06/24/free-financial-counseling-for-pastors/

[236] http://careforpastors.org

[237] http://pastorselfcare.five-factor.com/?page_id=597

[238] Krejir, 2.

[239] Boston Marathon Statistics 2014. http://www.raceday.org. (Accessed June 3, 2014).

How To Speak to JW and Mormon’s at Your Door

As I mentioned on Sunday, there is a seemingly renewed push by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to recruit new adherents. In Lakeside and Santee they seem to be everywhere. In my neighborhood alone, I have seen them and engaged them multiple times in the last several months. I have seen them on consecutive weeks multiple times. They completely ignore “no soliciting” signs of our neighborhood and make no mistake, they are there to lead you on the wrong path. They will not stop until you start talking about the real Jesus.

I shared on Sunday how I have had long discussions with some JW and Mormon’s pointing out their errors in Scripture only to see them completely ignore what I said and give their rote response. Although I sincerely hope they come around and find the real Jesus of the Bible, in my experience, they do not listen to me, they only try vigorously to convert me to their false ideology. I believe the best way a cultist can be converted is the best way anyone can be converted, through a relationship, a trusted one. Perhaps someone in their family will be able to share the truth with them and lead them to the real Jesus. Therefore, I find the stand at the door and debate pretty useless. I no longer tolerate them in my neighborhood and after telling them about the real Jesus and seeing no genuine response from them, I kindly tell them to leave my neighborhood, as I believe God has placed me in my neighborhood for a reason, it is not by accident (Acts 17:26) as I am trying to lead my Oikos (my neighbors) to the truth.

As a way to help prepare you, I told you to go to the website CARM.org. I am providing a link so you can be prepared to discuss Jesus with them. THEY BELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT JESUS. Understand, it is NOT the same JESUS. Click the link and read and print out the article, it will help you… and you won’t want to hide and be quiet when they come to the door, (nobody wants to feel like a prisoner in their own home and you don’t have to!) you can be prepared and even bold and even look forward to them coming so you can witness and share the TRUTH.

https://carm.org/easy-way-witness-mormons-and-jehovahs-witnesses

Adam LaRoche Quit Baseball To Follow His Faith, But What He Won’t Say Is Heartbreaking

Great article from qpolitical.com

Hollywood could not write a more compelling story than that of a Major League ballplayer becoming an undercover agent. Heck, with all the sequels, and reboots being made today it’s safe to say movie-makers lack the creativity to come up with a story like this.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball, allow me to fill you in on the excellent career of southeast Kansas’ own Adam LaRoche.

Born to former big-leaguer Dave LaRoche, Adam (along with his brother, Andy) was destined to play in ‘The Show.’ After being an All-American in high school, the Fort Scott native was drafted in 1998 (and again in 1999) by the Florida Marlins, but refused to sign. Adam decided to go to college, and went on to win MVP of the Junior College World Series in 2000.

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Adam was drafted in 2000 by the Atlanta Braves, where he would spend the next six years playing. After a few years in the minors, Adam was called up by the Braves in 2004. Over the course of the next 12 years Adam would go on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves (again), Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, and Chicago White Sox.

Over the course of his career the first-baseman hit 255 home runs, won a gold glove, a Silver Slugger Award, and a National League Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.

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Aside from being a great ballplayer, LaRoche is also a devout Christian. While playing for the Washington Nationals, Adam helped to promote “Faith Day” at Nationals Park along with several of his teammates. He would continue to promote “Faith Day” on other teams later in his career, as well. In fact, his faith may have played a huge part as to why he walked away from the game he loves.

Before the White Sox 2015 “Faith Day” game, LaRoche spoke briefly on the day’s importance:

“As a believer, it is and should be the most important thing in our lives, so to be able to get up briefly and share that is an honor. And the fact that the White Sox allow it is great because some teams try to shy away from things like that and any type of (potential) controversy.

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Before the 2016 season started, Laroche was making headlines for causing some controversy that would lead to his departure from the White Sox organization, and Major League Baseball itself. For years Laroche had brought his son into the clubhouse every day, and had never had any problems.

“I never took it for granted. You could have a manager who just flat doesn’t like it. You can have players complain — ‘Hey, we’re tired of having a kid around.’ There’s a chance we could have other guys see Drake and think, ‘I’ll bring my kid too.’ Obviously we can’t turn this into a day care. I get it.”

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After 12 years, someone on LaRoche’s team told management they no longer wanted the slugger to bring his son to work. Prior to the 2016 season, the White Sox informed Adam that his son would no longer be welcome in the clubhouse on a day-to-day basis.

Here is what White Sox president Ken Williams told baseball expert Ken Rosenthal:

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The argument could be made (for good reason) that a locker room is no place to bring a child. Adam even says as much, but explains why he wants his son around:

“There’s no other workplace where you walk in and guys are slapping each other in the nuts and saying the stuff they do. You can say, ‘That’s no place for a kid to be. The way I see it, he’s going to be around that regardless, unless you homeschool and raise them in a bubble. I can’t think of a better place for him to be when he gets a taste of that than with me.”

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Adam, who has a very close relationship with his 14-year-old son, Drake, saw only one option: walk away from his $13 million deal with the White Sox, and retire from Major League Baseball. That was the story the White Sox were told, and for the most part, everyone believed it.

LaRoche made the following announcement to his team after being informed of the club’s new policy in regards to children being around the locker room:

“I am choosing my son over you guys. I cannot tell you how much I hate that I’m even having to make this decision, and how much it crushes me to feel like I could be leaving you guys hanging.”

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That seems pretty straightforward, until you take a deeper look at Adam LaRoche’s life. He has never been one to conform to societal norms. For better, or worse (probably worse) Adam says he isn’t as concerned with his kids’ grades, choosing to focus on “How are they treating their classmates, and how are they treating [the teacher]?” That’s just a glimpse into what Adam values as important. Over the years, many things have come in and taken priority over baseball, including family, and faith.

Many aren’t aware, but Laroche has a lot going on outside of baseball. He’s one of the co-owners of Outdoor Network’s Buck Commander, along with former teammate Chipper Jones (and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty), and a host of other ballplayers/celebrities, but that’s not even close to the most interesting thing Laroche does in his free time (he also runs a cattle ranch).

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This was recently reported by ESPN’s Tim Keown, and it might give some insight into the real reason for Laroche’s retirement:

LaRoche, along with Brewers pitcher Blaine Boyer, spent 10 days in November in Southeast Asian brothels, wearing a hidden camera and doing undercover work to help rescue underage sex slaves. All of which raises a question: After 12 years in the big leagues, the endless days and nights in dugouts and clubhouses, how did LaRoche’s nearly cinematic level of nonconformity escape detection?

… Working through a nonprofit called the Exodus Road, LaRoche and Boyer conducted surveillance in brothels and tried to determine the age of the girls — known only by numbers pinned to bikinis — and identify their bosses.

“Something huge happened there for us,” Boyer says. “You can’t explain it. Can’t put your finger on it. If you make a wrong move, you’re getting tossed off a building. We were in deep, man, but that’s the way it needed to be done. Adam and I truly believe God brought us there and said, ‘This is what I have for you boys.’”

That’s right, last fall LaRoche, along with fellow big-leaguer Blaine Boyer, went undercover in Southeast Asia to rescue underage sex slaves from local brothels. Let that sink in for a minute. A pair of white professional athletes went undercover in an effort to rescue children from sex slavery.

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How many of you would step away from $13 million dollars? Most people would have a difficult time doing that, but Adam Laroche isn’t like most people. While it was assumed that he retired because of reasons stemming from his son not being allowed in the clubhouse, this new information throws a wrinkle into that theory.

When asked if he would attempt to recoup the $13 million he was set to make in 2016, Adam stated plainly, “No. I did it. I made the final decision.” Clearly, money isn’t the motivating factor for LaRoche.

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“I can understand how people look at the $13 million. One, how stupid does somebody have to be? Or, how selfish? Suck it up for six months, right?”

Stupid might not be the right word, but that is an awful lot of money to walk away from, over something as small as not being able to bring your kid to work.

Did the trip to the brothels have that much of an impact on LaRoche? Perhaps the former big-leaguer has his sights set on new horizons. Maybe he feels as though God is calling him to something different. Maybe we are overanalyzing, and he simply wants to hang out with his kid more, and spend his free time hunting, and fishing with his buddies.

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Maybe all of those factors played a part in LaRoche’s decision to hang it up. I simply refuse to believe the “Rich Man Quits Over Son” narrative because that’s not the type of guy LaRoche seems to be.

In regards to bringing his kid to work, Adam says he was always upfront with his employers:

“I would go to those managers every year. I would tell them, ‘Listen, if there’s ever an issue, specifically if a player comes up to you, you’ve got to let me know.’”

LaRoche isn’t an unreasonable man. Perhaps, for the first time, he saw the difference he could make in the world WITHOUT having to hit a ball. Maybe God has enormous plans for this small-town slugger, turned sex-slave recovery operative.

Whatever his plans for the future, we wish Adam LaRoche good luck! With all the athletes that attract negative headlines, it’s refreshing to be reminded that excellent role-models still exist in American sports. God bless you, Adam LaRoche!

Coddled Kids Crumble

Coddled Kids Crumble

I thought this was a good article to pass along as coddling is an epidemic in America today. From not keeping score in youth sports leagues and everybody getting a trophy to parents going off on teachers and leaders who don’t coddle their kids as they do.
This is from http://www.lifezette.com

 

Begin article: The results of over a decade of nonstop hand-holding and helicopter parenting are boomeranging back to parents and educators.

Many college students are showing an alarming lack of even basic internal coping skills. As a result, today’s colleges and universities are becoming equal parts psychologists, in absentia parents, and even academic scapegoats (when students don’t get the grades they thought they would).

Related: How to Thrive in College [1]

“The idea of fragility is now an overarching theme in kids,” said Lenore Skenazy, founder of FreeRangeKids.com. “This comes from a society that makes adults fear everything, and constantly tells them they are not doing enough and not worrying about enough, so they parent their kids accordingly.”

In the continuing infantilizing of America’s young people, colleges report having to warn kids when they are going to talk about something that might be mentally troubling in class, with a so-called “trigger warning.” That way, in theory, a past victim of abuse or violence would be warned when graphic or violent material might be coming their way.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, the student government recently passed a resolution that makes these “trigger warnings” mandatory. The warnings include cautions professors must add to their course syllabi, specifying which lectures will include films, readings or discussions that might prompt feelings of emotional or physical distress.

Oberlin College in Ohio even takes it a step farther, issuing official trigger-warning guidelines for professors that sound almost like “a parody of political correctness,” the Los Angeles Times said.

“Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct but also to anything that might cause trauma,” these guidelines read in part.

This isn’t that surprising, considering what is regularly happening: Students are swarming their campus counseling offices for once-trivial life occurrences, such as being made to feel bad by another student. In one “funny-if-it-weren’t-so-sad” case, two students saw a mouse, dialed 911, and then sought counseling for the resulting trauma — an apparent case of rodent PTSD.

What is happening to the youth of America? Why are they turning to Jell-O when faced with the slightest bump in the road?

In the stampede to campus counseling offices, student also complain of anxiety over multiple issues.

“The mental health common cold for this generation of students is anxiety disorder, whereas for previous generations it was depression,” Kip Alishio, director of student counseling at Miami University, told USA Today.

What is happening to the youth of America? Why are they turning to Jell-O when faced with the slightest bump in the road?

“Students haven’t developed the skills to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations,” Dan Jones, a past president for the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“The mental health common cold for this generation of students is anxiety disorder, whereas for previous generations it was depression.”

Another troubling emergence in the psychology of today’s young adults is their fear of learning the lessons that failure offers. Failure, for young America and their parents, is the new taboo.

“I see an unwillingness in myself to let my sons fail, and I have to fight it,” one Boston dad told LifeZette. “You are swimming against the tide; everyone is smoothing the way for their kids. We’ve forgotten that failure is a spectacular teacher.”

Another mom from New York weighed in: “I don’t show confidence in my daughter’s capabilities when I constantly check in. I feel bad; her first year of independence at college was a bumpy one, and I was partly to blame. As a single parent, I was too involved in her every move.”

Failure is, for young America and their parents, the new taboo.

These major mental meltdowns impact college teachers, too. In a Psychology Today blog post entitled “Declining Student Resilience,” Boston College professor and author Peter Gray wrote, “Faculty at the meetings (of counselors) noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices.”

Chinua Achebe’s celebrated novel “Things Fall Apart” is listed by Oberlin College in Ohio as a possible “trigger” book because of its themes of colonialism, racism, and religious prejudice, the Los Angeles Times reported. At Rutgers, an op-ed in the student paper suggested that the study of “The Great Gatsby” should require trigger warnings about violence and gore, Gray’s blog post noted.

A world without F. Scott Fitzgerald because students can’t handle imagery created in the 1920s? The revolving rotors of helicopter parenting are now scattering the benefits of great literary works like fallen autumn leaves.

Some (professors) said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the emotional crises they would have to handle.

A report drafted by a subcommittee of the American Association of University Professors and posted on its website begins, “A current threat to academic freedom in the classroom comes from a demand that teachers provide warnings in advance if assigned material contains anything that might trigger difficult emotional responses for students. This follows from earlier calls not to offend students’ sensibilities by introducing material that challenges their values and beliefs.”

It’s time that parents, after the proper guidance when their kids are young, allow their kids to use their burgeoning capabilities in age-appropriate ways.

“We need to let go of constant hovering, and allow kids have independent experiences,” Skenazy said. “We need to resist the urge for omniscience in our children’s lives.”

Chargers

Vision Otay Ranch

The decision was made by the NFL owners to approve the Chargers move to… Inglewood. It was a NO vote on the move to Carson. The Inglewood vote is an opportunity for the Bolts to be in partnership with the Rams. The stadium there will be amazing..no doubt… Inglewood is a blighted area that is in much need of renovation and repurposing. The Rams deal makes it possible. Good for the Rams!

For the Chargers on the other hand, in my opinion, this is a VERY bad deal for them. Why would any team want to move in with another NFL team in partnership and play second fiddle. In NY you have the Jets and Giants sharing a stadium, that is NY and those two franchises have been in the same city for years and years building fan base and building rivalry.

Make no mistake, if the Chargers move, they will play second fiddle to the Rams. The Bolts have yet to substantiate their claim that 30% of their fan base comes from LA. That comment does not make sense. If that were true, then why leave 70% for 30%? They probably believe they will add more loyal fans in LA and may even believe a large percentage of San Diegans will follow the team to LA. They clearly do not know San Diego Charger fans. We hate LA sports teams…except maybe the Angels who seem like second cousins…If the Chargers were the only team coming to LA, maybe they could grow their brand. However, the Rams spent 49 years in LA. The Chargers spent 1, their original year as an AFL football team. Building their brand in LA will not be easy.

If the Chargers move to Inglewood, they will be playing second fiddle as a franchise to the Rams. They will be second as owners to Billionaire Stan Kronke and second to a rabid Rams fanbase. The Chargers would become LA’s Triple A football franchise. A minor league team in a major league city. Would they make more money in LA than in SD? Maybe, even probably. And, I understand it is a business. But, that business has greater long term viability in SD than in LA, just ask the 1994 Raiders and Rams.

On the other hand, the decision by the NFL owners comes with a great option for Dean Spanos, the Chargers owner. Stay in San Diego, deal in good faith with the local officials, and get a stadium deal done. As a matter of fact, NFL owners have said they will give the Chargers 100 million to STAY in San Diego and help get a stadium deal done! The NFL owners have previously stated that they really like the San Diego market. This is putting their money where their mouth is. This buys the Chargers and the City time to work out a deal, not much time, but time to get it done. The Chargers have until March to decide if they will play in a temporary stadium situation in LA or stay in SD in 2016.

If the Chargers stay in SD, they will play second fiddle to no one. They are San Diego’s team. They are #1 in this town. They may not be able to get a downtown stadium done, which is the desire of the Chargers ownership, but, come on man, Mission Valley is better than Inglewood all day every day. A new stadium in Mission Valley trumps a new stadium in Inglewood EVERY TIME.

So, I’m actually relatively optimistic about the Chargers possibility of staying in SD. Dean Spanos has not done himself any favors in how he has treated the process in Mission Valley, but at the end of the day, if it means keeping our team in SD, the local officials and the Chargers must be willing to play ball.

 

A year later…

It’s been over a year since we started the process for The Impact campaign, “Building a Place for Imperfect People” and it has been going fast and strong. The overview:

  1. Sept 2014: We announced plans to raise money to find a place to call our church home.
  2. Feb 2015: We received 1.4 million in commitments.
  3. June 2015: We found a church home.
  4. June 2015-Current: We began remodeling.
  • Architecture and new look to the outside of the buildings in planning stages
  • Outdoor children’s and athletic zone currently in planning stages
  • Auditorium in process of remodeling. Including new chairs, technology, sound booth, lobby, cry room, video room, security room and much more.
  • New landscaping
  • Fellowship Hall turned into Cafe Venue
  • Offices completed remodeled.
  • Children’s classrooms completely remodeled.

 

We have seen amazing changes in one year since I last posted. I am so thankful for the people of Seven Church and the community of Lakeside. Thankful for your patience, perseverance, hope and excitement as we turn our campus into a  Perfect Place for Imperfect People.

Below are some pictures of the progress. And there is much much more to come!!!

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Why I Started Recycling

Our IMPACT Campaign, “Building a Place for Imperfect People” is off and running and it is changing the way we look at things.

I was reading through Acts 4:32-37 where Barnabas sold a field and brought the money to the disciples. I don’t have a field I can sell but I have continued to consider what God would have us do as a family in terms of sacrificial giving and how it will change our lifestyle.

Something our consultant Bob said recently stuck with me when he talked about our giving testimonies. He mentioned we need to share how we are sacrificing for the Lord to get our church home. Not just that we are going to give and that we are tithing, etc… It was such a good reminder because this campaign isn’t just about giving. But, this whole idea of stewardship and sacrificial giving means our lifestyle will change. It means we will live differently because of what God is calling us to do for Him, for our community, for our Oikos and for those who aren’t here yet.

So, my wife and I have scrutinized our spending, found areas where we can cut and found areas where we can save. AND, found an area where we can put even more toward the IMPACT campaign…. so, yes… I’m recycling… Ok, now, first of all, I’ve always recycled… well, I mean I’ve always put the recyclables in the blue recycle bin the trash company gives me. But, I’ve always hated the thought of taking the smelly, sticky, and ant and fly infested cans and bottles to the smelly, sticky, ant and fly infested recylcle company to get my CA CRV back! But, for IMPACT I will get smelly sticky and ant and fly infested to get more cash to put toward our goal of seeing our church have a home!

It’s just another way our lifestyle has changed as God continues to show us the really important things in life are not things. What we are attempting is historic and will have an IMPACT for generations to come.

Join our journey at http://www.7sd.org and click on IMPACT to see a glimpse at what our future home may look like.

P.S. attached is an actual picture of my most recent trip to the recycler which netted me $15.78. However, including my last trip of $38.18 that’s an additional $53.96 of real money toward IMPACT! —can’t you just smell the awesomeness!

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