To The Pastor With Burnout

A Grace-Paced Life

Being tired and stressed happens all the time for a pastor. But sometimes pastors reach a point of total exhaustion—burnout. What can a burned out pastor do? In this post, produced in cooperation with the Association of Biblical Counselors, professor, pastor and author Dr. David Murray talks to pastors about how to handle burnout as a pastor.

David is professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the author of several books including Christians Get Depressed Too

David counsels pastors on a regular basis. He noticed that most of the pastors he talks to about burnout lead their churches well and love God and their ministries. They aren’t lazy or lethargic, just worn thin.  

David spent some time describing the type of pastor he typically encounters with burnout. They’re type-A, full of zeal, and love their ministries, but they’re burned out. Would you describe yourself like one of these pastors? Why or why not?
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Pastors who suffer burnout often try to be more than what God designed them to be—they don’t acknowledge their humanity. Do you think you have a healthy view of your limits as a human? Why or why not? How might a healthy understanding of who you are and who God is help with burnout?
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One practical thing pastors can do to avoid burnout is to set aside an entire day of true rest. Do you make room for rest in your week? If so, how and how has observing the Sabbath impacted your physical, mental, and spiritual health? If not, what could you say “no” to this week in order to say “yes” to rest?
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David said to, “live a grace-paced life in a burnout culture.” How does this statement strike you? What might a grace pace look like in your day to day life?
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How could you model a grace-paced life to your congregation this week? If you’re in a place of burnout, what steps could you take toward healing?
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If you’re experiencing burnout, find someone to talk to about it. Try some of David’s suggestions this week—make time to rest, exercise, embrace God’s grace. Know that burnout won’t last forever. Lean on Christ for strength to learn, grow, and lead through burnout. 

To learn more about The Association of Biblical Counselors, click here.