BURNOUT WEEK::the health factor

>> August 28, 2010

Burnout isn't just emotional. It's also mental and relational.

Burned-out pastors get more easily discouraged.
Discouraged pastors make poor spiritual and personal choices from lack of discernment.
Lack of discernment leads to hurt relationships, unbiblical teaching or even scandal.
Hurt relationships and conflict lead to overwhelming guilt.
Guilt leads to doubting one's call to ministry.
Doubt leads to...

You get the general idea.

And burnout is physical, too:

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. 
Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy.

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.
(Taking a Break from the Lord's Work, Paul Vitello, NY Times)
If leadership is best executed by modeling an example, then many of us have got some work to do.

We can't tell our church members that God wants them to be healthy in their lifestyle choices if we don't bother to rest, exercise or make smart eating choices. Unless of course, you don't mind being called a hypocrite.

We have to remember that staying healthy so we can serve God to the fullest is more than just making one kind of health decision. It's about living a whole life in balance. Which, as pastoral families, ain't an easy assignment.
Even in the best of times, however, many factors can contribute to clergy health problems.

Clergy routinely work 60-hour weeks, and often have just one day off -- and not the day everyone else is off. Also, every function that a priest or rabbi or imam attends is likely to have food -- and not necessarily healthy fare -- that he or she is expected to share.

"Doughnuts will be the death of me," several Methodist pastors told researchers with the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, a seven-year project with Duke Divinity School that is looking at the health of United Methodist pastors in North Carolina.
(No Rest for the Holy, David Gibson, Politics Daily)
It's not impossible to choose a lifestyle that help prevent obesity, heart disease and depression. A good place to start is with adequate rest and regular exercise.

Eating smarter helps too. Check out our own Jenah's column on HOW TO::eat healther in the PW home for tips on better food choices.

When you live long enough to keep on meeting their needs, your church will thank you. (Hopefully!)


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Anonymous,  August 29, 2010 at 12:24 PM  

Brilliant post, thank you! I am busy trying to avoid burnout at the moment, so much to do, so little time and so many needy people. It's an ongoing struggle to maintain a balanced life, thank you for tips in this area. Angela xxxx

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