If you feel busier now than ever before, and if you wonder if you can keep up this pace much longer, you are not alone. Most of us in ministry feel slightly bewildered, realizing we have more to do than we have time to do it.
In the church we seem to equate busyness with success. The busier we are, the more productive we believe we are being. In fact, it becomes the standard greeting everywhere. “Hey Kyle, how are you? “I am so busy, I’m crazy busy.”
Author Wayne Muller in his book Sabbath writes, “We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our fatigue were a trophy, and our ability to withstand stress, a mark of real character. The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be busy” has become the model of a successful pastoral life. But there is a downside.
Over time, business might very well lead to stress and repeated activation to our stress response takes its toll on the body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery clogging deposits which could lead to a stroke or heart attack. Take it from me personally, you don’t want one of them. Even if you don’t have a heart attack, the brain’s response to stress can contribute to anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors.
When I speak with pastors and ask them to be completely honest with me, they tell me they are often stressed out. Most work between 55 to 75 hours per week leaving them feeling worn out most every week and some have admitted experiencing some form of burnout in ministry. Just about everyone of them say they have had recently had stressful, serious conflict. Within the last six months I spoke with two pastors were forced to resign from their churches because of conflict with just a couple of bullies within their congregations. Sadly, most have also told me that they feel they are underpaid.
The expectations that people put on their pastors, and that pastors often put on themselves, can be strength sapping. Everywhere pastors go they are expected to be ‘on’, ready to give effective leadership, unending compassion, preach inspiring messages week after week, offering up anointed prayers, and continual encouraging words. As we attend to the emotional and spiritual need of others, we may become overstressed and depressed, and that could bring on compulsive or even immoral behaviors.
As pastors we may find ourselves feeling emotionally drained, spiritually dry, fed up with of ministry, feeling stuck in the professions that we were once so excited about starting.
A causal reading of the Gospels clearly depicts how many people were constantly pressing in trying to get to Jesus to meet their needs. Several passages paint the picture of he and the disciples being so busy they didn’t even have time to eat perhaps for days. Needless to say, Jesus was crazy busy. But look at what he did to deal with the stress he and his disciples experienced.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Mark 6:31-32 (NIV)
If Jesus as the Son of God needed times to get away, how much more do we need to unplug from the workings of the church and recharge our Spiritual batteries in time alone with the one who has called us to follow him.
In my latest book, “Church Turnaround A to Z ” you will learn:
How to attract a “crazy” amount of visitors
How your worship services can connect with members and guests
How to find the time to grow disciples even if you and they are “crazy” bus
I wrote this book to save you from making the same crazy mistakes I made growing a church from 0 to over 1200 disciples.
You’d be “CRAZY” not to check it out.