7 Signs of Burnout


Burnout is increasing in our culture and leaders and those in ministry are by no means exempt from the struggles of burnout. Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries reports that 1,500 pastors are leaving the ministry each month because of conflict, burnout or moral failure. Obviously that is way too large of a number. I do think that for some of them it is part of God’s design to bring them to a place where they can see what they were created for. For many though it is simply a situation of being defeated and walking away.

Check out these sobering statistics presented by Pastor Darrin Patrick from research he has gathered from such organizations as Barna and Focus on the Family.


* 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or relational conflict.
* 50% of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
* 80%of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
* 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
* 80%of Bible College and Seminary graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry before they have spent 5 years in ministry.
* 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
* Almost 40% polled have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
* 70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

In March of 2008 year I was sitting on my living room couch when a self proclaimed Pastor to Pastors shared with me that I was on my way to burnout. When he began talking in terms of the effects of burnout he was saying that it often led to moral failure or depression. Both of those had me quaking, especially moral failure. I told him that I had not felt like I was heading down either of those roads but that I had dreamed of taking a job that I had been offered twice in 3 months to work for an internet guru and learn firsthand from him. “That’s the third area we didn’t get to.” He replied. Quitting outside of God’s timing.

Man, you could have thrown that one in too don’t you think! As I sat there on the couch and he shared some of the symptoms of burnout I realized I truly was heading down the road to burnout.

I was experiencing a lack of desire for the ministry, putting off tasks because I was tired, working on my days off to get things done and feeling like I was only accomplishing 3 days worth of work in 6. My wife was really supportive but she was definitely feeling some of the stress of my situation.

We had clearly heard the call of God to come back to the mission field and God had provided in huge ways to get us to the field in record time (God raised up our needed additional $2800/month in 7 weeks) so now why only 9 months later would I feel like God’s call had been wrong.

I realized I had gone about fulfilling God’s call in the wrong way. I had always had a great team of student leaders and staff but I had walked back into a ministry that had very few strong leaders and experienced leaders. In the beginning I felt like I had to clean up a lot of relational situations. We had been told that the ministry might not be allowed to continue so in some sense I had a Messiah complex feeling like I needed to “save” the ministry so that God could continue to work in the lives of military students on the base where we are working.

Since I had spent time in the past doing strengths coaching for ministries and youth pastors and had spent much time thinking about my own gifts, passions, strengths and weaknesses I knew immediately the changes that needed to be made in my life and my ministry. Even though I knew the step that I needed to take it still wasn’t easy making the change. Especially the change to rest more and not be working as hard. It was so good though.

Every week or two through the summer and the fall I would think I was at about 90% and then a couple of weeks later I would feel better and think, “Maybe I have been drained far longer than I was aware of.” I still don’t feel like I am back to 100% but I am on the road and it is good.

If you have these signs you might want to look deeper into your own heart and life and see if you are really humming along at 100%. Many people can sense if they are starting to be drained but if you have never experienced burnout before you might not be aware of your true spiritual and emotional health. Because many leaders have greater energy reserves and drive than the average population they are more apt to run at 100% until they crash and burn seemingly without warning.

7 Signs of burnout:
1. Lack of desire to connect with God.
2. Letting deadlines slip and putting off projects
3. Less desire to be with people, withdrawal
4. Depression
5. Less Energy
6. Working harder without seeing an increase in output
7. Living in a fantasy world, especially of new places or foreign countries

If you are experiencing some of these you might want to have a PDP ProScan done. Click on services today if you would like experience greater health and understanding of yourself and your current life situation by having a PDP ProScan done.

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