>> August 29, 2010
What if your PH seems to be doing fine, and the person who is truly burned out in your house is YOU?
It's not ridiculous. We PWs tend to work equally as hard as our PHs do, even if it's in different activities. If you have 1 or 2 or 10 kids, then your job is probably crazier than his - because you not only do the full-time job of PW plus whatever career or employment you may have, you're also a mom. (Which, as any mom already knows, is more like five full-time jobs at any given minute.)
Ministry burns pastors out. Even the secular world has sat up and taken notice.
But PWs get burned out too. And we aren't the subject of nearly as many studies or focus groups or counseling seminars.
Which means we need to support each other. And we need to pray about the best solution for our own circumstances. And maybe not be too proud to ask for some help from a church member or neighbor now and then.
Here are some ideas for you as a PW, to help stave off burnout:
- ask for a day off each quarter too, where you focus on spiritual rejuvenation. Get a babysitter if you need to. Put the date on both calendars - yours and his. Plan for it like you would for a concert or a church function.
- keep a lifeline to the outside world. Find at least one trustworthy friend who is a good listener and has some spiritual wisdom. Nurture that relationship however you can.
- say "Not this time, but thanks!" to that 15th church job. Get over the guilt - when you let someone else do it you are giving them an opportunity to experience the joy of serving. Or if nobody steps up for a while, you're letting them realize how much someone needs to take over. It's okay if that someone isn't always you.
- skip the late night TV, even if it's your favorite way to unwind. Try going for a cup of tea and a book instead - you'll sleep better without the stimulation of TV, and probably get to bed earlier instead of staying up to watch the next show.
- put exercise on your calendar, at least 5 days a week. Whether you walk with other moms on your street, join a gym for social fellowship, or train for an Iron Man Triathlon... the point is to get positive endorphins flowing, increase your energy, sleep better at night, and feel happier all day (once the soreness wears off, of course!)
- sing. Hum. Whistle. Belt it out. Whatever your style, singing uplifting hymns or psalms or praise songs can help to make your heart happy and stave off discouragement and loneliness.
- get counseling if it doesn't get better. Find a godly mentor who can help you walk through the steps of feeling less discouraged.
- most importantly::try to make time for daily prayer and bible reading. If you have little ones, this can be super tough. I struggle with it constantly. We finally settled on two things that help me get a little daily God-time: I do bedtime and Daddy does morning-time so I can have a few extra minutes to pray, and I've started reading aloud from a devotional book when I put the baby down for naps. It's helped!
A FEW LINKS & RESOURCES ABOUT PASTORAL BURNOUT:
- No Rest for the Holy: Clergy Burnout a Growing Concern, David Gibson, Politics Daily
- Soul Care the the Roots of Clergy Burnout, Anne Dilenschneider, The Huffington Post
- Taking a Break from the Lord's Work, Paul Vitello, The New York Times
- Study finds Canadian clergy burned out, isolated, The Presbyterian Outlook
- National Clergy Renewal Program
- Clergy Health Initiative, Duke Divinity School
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