Overcoming Ministry Fatigue

Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 52

Pastors are struggling with exhaustion, frustration, and overwhelm. It feels like you are fighting a battle you cannot win, and for every two steps you take forward, 2020 knocks you back three steps. Recent news stories have shown us, once again, that leading a church does not make you immune to frustration, depression, and even suicide in extreme cases. It’s a heartbreaking reality in the Church. Fortunately, there are resources to help, and today we’re talking through four things that may help you in your ministry if you find yourself relating to this topic.

Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube, or stream the audio below. Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode!

Accept that making everyone happy isn’t an option.

We know you know this, but sometimes we just have to hear the truth again. Doing what’s right isn’t always the same as what everybody likes. We work with a lot of pastors that develop concerns over making changes in their churches. Every one of them has a group of people that he knows will push back on any kind of change. Sometimes that group grows in the pastor’s mind to feel like the whole church. It’s usually not. Far from it, the pocket of resistance, though very vocal, is usually very small. We also come across bullies in churches, and we all know that bullies need to be stood up to. God placed you in your position for a reason or a season. If you still feel called to be where you are, then be the leader that God needs you to be. Just do the next right thing.

Programs are a means, discipleship is the ends.

People dispute over the look and feel of programs, but nobody argues with the concept of discipleship. Start first by determining the discipleship outcomes you want to see in your congregation, and then institute the programs necessary to accomplish those outcomes. So how does this relate to pastoral frustration? You’re a pastor because you wanted to see people’s lives changed by God. When you are not seeing the ministry fruit you envisioned years ago when you started in ministry, that’s a point of frustration. Maybe even your biggest point of frustration. If the fruit of your ministry was more in line with your expectations, your frustration would be reduced.

“Pastoral Care” doesn’t mean the pastor is the only one who cares.

Hospitals, bedsides, funeral homes. If those are the three venues in which you do most of your ministry, it’s no wonder you’re frustrated. The church is designed to care for itself – people caring for people. Your biblical role as pastor/elder/overseer is to manage and shepherd the functions of the church, not to do it all yourself. Moses started burning himself out too in Exodus 18 until his father-in-law helped him implement a strategy of bringing other leaders into the work. You may be too close to the work right now to be able to really see what even needs to be done. Lean on your leaders around you, or tap on some shoulders and say, “I need you to do this with me.” Burnout is real. Help is the answer.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

We just mentioned this above, but it deserves its own point. And by the way, if you happen to be one of the people from the top of this post that has at any point had suicidal thoughts, please reach out. There are professionals to help you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

There are two options for the help you may need. First, you may need just what we talked about in point number three above, more manpower to do the work of the ministry. Don’t let another day go by without making progress in building out your team.

Second, you may need organizational help with systems or strategies. That’s where we come in. We can help you get organized in a way that allows you to do what you need to be doing to better your ministry instead of spinning your wheels. We have options with more hands-on help from one of our Guides, or a more self-led option through our Church Revitalization University.

A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.

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