052 - The Key to Avoid Ministry Burnout - Leaders.Church

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052 – The Key to Avoid Ministry Burnout

What’s in this Episode?

71% of pastors report being extremely stressed or highly stressed, and 90% work 55 to 75 hours per week feeling fatigued and worn out every single week. So how do you get off the treadmill and get some of your energy and time back? Well stay tuned because in this episode, we’re going to give you the one principle that’s going to help you stay on your A game and get refreshed all the time.


Read the Transcript

Dick Hardy 0:30
I remember there was a period of time back when probably this guy was about a junior higher or senior higher that at the church I was serving, I was going non stop, day and night where I had six, I counted them up, numbers guy, 65 days in a row. I think it was in a March/April/May period of time, that I was working the day, doing something with church, and at night. It just didn’t stop. And of course I’m moving to a point of absolute exhaustion. And it’s story after story. You’ve heard them, I’ve experienced it. I’m sure you’ve come long periods of time where ministry burnout becomes a very, very real thing. And so we want to talk to you today about how it is that as a pastor, you can avoid ministry burnout, because you can, but you’ve got to give some attention, specific attention to it.

Jonathan Hardy 1:25
Well, I think that ministry, burnout is a fear that sometimes people have to. I remember even in, you know, college, going to Bible College, you know, you talk about ministry, burnout, like, well, we don’t want to burn out in a ministry. Yeah, you know, well,

Dick Hardy 1:36
Then you get into church and non stop. It’s coming at you.

Jonathan Hardy 1:39
Yeah. And so the key is knowing how to do that. And so…

Dick Hardy 1:43
So we’re going to talk about that ministry burnout today. You know, you remember, everybody’s got the image of the Energizer Bunny who’s just going on and on and on and on. Well, guess what? You’re not the Energizer Bunny. You’re not Superman, Superwoman. You have to have periods of time to rest, refresh, and so on. And so we want to talk about exactly how that can happen. You can have vibrant, fulfilled ministry without burning out for the long haul. It’s all based on a principle that a glass can only spill what it contains. And so Jonathan’s had a great illustration of that here that I’ve heard him use from time to time before.

Jonathan Hardy 2:26
So here I happen to have this little thing here.

Dick Hardy 2:28
Oh a little object lesson!

Jonathan Hardy 2:29
What I’m using today, for those listening and not watching on YouTube, a little plug to subscribe on YouTube, if you haven’t yet done so, but this is my 40 ounce, stainless steel water bottle that I use often for drinking. I’m using it today actually. And of course, you can hear a little bit of waters in here.

Dick Hardy 2:46
You better shake that a little more.

Jonathan Hardy 2:47
Okay, well, there you go. You can tell it’s not full. And the reality is, once this thing is empty, I’m not giving myself any more water until I go and refill it back up. So that’s the whole concept. This thing right here can only spill what it contains. And once once it’s empty, there’s no more spilling. There’s no more pouring out, there’s more, you know, I’m not getting anything else out of it. And that’s the idea for ministry and for us as ministry leaders, is we can only give what we have inside us energy wise, emotionally, and so on. And so that’s why we have to take care of ourselves first.

Dick Hardy 3:25
Exactly. You know, the stress on pastors is going through the roof. And we are… have just walked through and are still walking through in a lot of quarters, the greatest period of time of stress coming on pastors because of what we’re having to deal with, with COVID-19. And all that’s swirling around us. How do you lead a pastor? How do you lead a church when you’re not able to get people in the church and some are open, some are closed. So the reality is, while all this going on, you’ve got to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care yourself, these stresses are only going to get worse.

Jonathan Hardy 4:02
Well, and I want to mention a stat that is very crazy to think about. And this is before COVID-19 of course, this is a couple years ago, but 71% of pastors report being extremely stressed or highly stressed. And then 90% of pastors work between 55 and 75 hours a week. So there’s just so much giving. And if you’re involved in vocational ministry, you know this to be true, you’ve experienced this yourself. And so it’s just something we have to be mindful of.

Dick Hardy 4:33
And, you know, we we’ve all heard when you’ve been on an airplane, you’ve all heard the flight attendant comes on and says, you know, near the end, they say, uh, now here’s the oxygen mask and when the oxygen mask drops, if you have a traveling companion or a child, who do you put the mask on first? You put the mask on yourself first. So that you’re able to take care of the child and that’s the same principle you have to have in the local church as a pastor.

Jonathan Hardy 5:01
And here’s the thing, though, you have to be intentional about that. I mean, if you’re going to do that, because we know that to be true, but life happens, ministry happens, counseling appointments happen, crisis happens, all these things happen. And so it’s just like we’re pulled from all these different directions. And of course, if you’re in a more rural setting, or you know, a smaller community, then you know, you’re kind of quote unquote, the person. Yeah. And you do it all. Yeah. And you do it all so, then, you know, you’re getting all the phone calls late at night and all that. And so, being intentional about how are you going to take care of yourself first, so that way, you can then give the oxygen masks to everyone else when when things go wrong.

Dick Hardy 5:39
Well, and the reality is, you as a pastor, you need to have somebody who’s walking the journey with you. Now certainly, if you’re married, you have your spouse walking the journey with you and that’s the number one person, but to have a… to intentionally make a move to have a mentor walk with you. Now you don’t necessarily call somebody and say hey, Joe, will you be my mentor, but there’s probably people out there, well there certainly are. There are people The Lord has placed in your life that are a step or two ahead of you. And you need to be taking advantage of that relationship to help pour into yourself. That’s part of what we’re talking about here with the the leaders.church offering that we’ve been talking about the last few days. And if you haven’t watched episode 49, you need to, just a couple days ago, go back and watch/listen to that episode, because we go through the entire restructuring that’s happening with leaders.church, for you, as a pastor to help you get better, to break barriers, to grow yourself. And you’ll see it just go to leaders.church/grandfather, because there’s going to be a pricing structure change starting on Friday, September 4, but in this window, you’re grandfathered in. I want to tell you, there is no time like the present for you to be jumping in to take advantage of what leaders.church can offer to you so that you can be better as a pastor.

Jonathan Hardy 7:00
That’s right. Yeah. And and that really kind of goes to that mentoring component. Now that’s more of a digital mentoring where you’ve got people like us, you’ve got other people that are teaching leadership resources to help you be a better pastor and a better leader. But then there’s other people too. There’s people that are in your church, maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s another fellow pastor. Could be someone from a distance that you’re able to correspond with regularly talk to, but having these people in place, you need to have people that have your back. And that’s very, very important.

Dick Hardy 7:30
And I’ll tell you another person to have in place and a boatload of pastors do not have this and that is to have a real friend. Some of those most isolated people anywhere, are pastors who don’t develop real friendships, they don’t know how to, they feel it’s risky. And I’m not saying you need to be buddy buddy with you know, a board member, Bill or something. But to have a real friend, if it needs to be outside the church then get that, but you need to have that in order to avoid burnout you have rest in friendship, genuine friendship and I really strongly encourage you to do that.

Jonathan Hardy 8:10
So what would you tell someone if they are wanting to say okay, I want to avoid this ministry burnout, I hear you Dick, you know, I understand the glass can only spill what it contains. So what are some just practical components?

Dick Hardy 8:24
Well, I think a very practical thing to do is for you to literally stop, rest, refresh. Now when I say that, I know some listening and watching are saying, yeah, yeah, sure. How am I going to get off this freight train going 100 miles an hour down the track. I get that. But if you don’t put your mind to it, it’s not going to happen. And you’ve got to, if you will put your mind to it. And relax and have fun, you say I’m kind of a wired up guy, well okay, you stay that way and get burned out. If you’ll pull back. That’s good. And get some and unprioritized time just time to read time to learn time to refresh. And then I’d say, secondly, I would be seeking answers from other people. You know, these people that have gone the road before you, yeah, you’re, it’d be a pretty rare person who is facing something today in ministry that somebody else hasn’t faced. And so seek out those people. Talk to them. And you’ll find refreshment coming to you if you’ll do these two things.

Jonathan Hardy 9:37
I think that’s good. I’ve… the key is though, you have to remember the principle that is really the framework for this discussion today is that a glass can only spill what it contains. And if you’re going to keep pouring out, you can only pour out so much of you before you have to pour back into you. And so you got to pour back into you as well. And these ideas that you have, those are great ways as well.

Dick Hardy 9:56
And this makes me, when you just said that, there’s a book out there, we’ll be sure to get the note in there, Leading on Empty, which is a phenomenal book that really chronicles the journey that pastors walk through when you’re trying to lead on empty. I’m just telling you, that’s a loser. You cannot lead on empty, you’ve got to refill your glass.

Jonathan Hardy 10:18
Yep. So make sure to do these things that we’re talking about. Fill that glass regularly. Invest in yourself regularly. Obviously, we’d love to have invest in yourself through the leaders.church membership during this special window. But regardless, the key is you have to fill your glass full, and that’s what’s going to help you stay fresh, stay strong, avoid the burnout, and be the pastor and the ministry leader that God wants you to be.

Dick Hardy 10:45
Exactly. Exactly.

Jonathan Hardy 10:46
All right.

Dick Hardy 10:47
Well, we’re glad to have had you on this particular episode. We hope you have a great day today and be blessed. Stay after it my friend.

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