STRESS AND BURNOUT IN MINISTRY
Too many church leaders are becoming health liabilities with stroke, heart attacks, infirmities and dying prematurely as a result of stress and not taking heed to this kind of teachings. I too made this mistake some few years back, but the Lord had mercy on me and healed me, that’s why I can bring this to you.
Some few days back, a Pastor was preaching in his church and people were really enjoying the sermon. Then suddenly he froze and had to be rushed to the hospital and had not opened his eyes as the time of writing this!
Another Pastor went to a mountain, proposing to fast for 100 days. He started and on the 31st day of the dry fast, he collapsed, started shaking, could not speak and lost the use of his hands and legs. His sugar level was finished and he is still battling with his health till now.
A Pastor was preaching vigorously and suddenly fell down from the pulpit and died there. And another Pastor went for a medical test. He is 50 years old, but the test result showed that his heart is that of an 80 year old!
All these are not spiritual attacks, but results of stress, overwork and lack of work-life balance by ministers of the gospel.
A. Scriptural Foundation – 1 Kings 19:1-4; 2 Kings 13:14-21
Being a minister is a 24/7 job. Being a Pastor is the toughest job in the whole world. And most ministers are workaholic and work-addict, which results in stress and burnout. Stress is a state/condition of tiredness, weariness, pain in the body, exhaustion, lack of sleep, rest, having emotional issues and obesity – yet you can’t stop, because there is much to do!
Here are those things that stress ministers:-
▪ Church stagnation.
▪ Financial pressure.
▪ Pressure to perform.
▪ Crowded programmes.
▪ Elephant projects.
▪ Unrealistic expectations.
▪ Emotional worries.
▪ Problematic members.
▪ Troublesome associates.
▪ Church bills/remittances.
▪ Low attendance.
▪ Problems at the home front.
▪ Superiors’ pressures.
▪ Pulpit manners.
Quite sad, that most modern Pastors and ministers are under tremendous stress as a result of these stress-inducing factors. Ministers that juggle all these together will definitely end up stressed and experience burnout.
B. The Adverse Effects of Stress And Burnout – 1 Kings 19:1-4; 1 Samuel 13:8-14
Burnout leads to loss of interest, lack of emotion, loss of motivation and possible depression.
✓ Poor health- stroke, high or low sugar levels.
✓ Family crisis- separation, divorce and wayward children.
✓ Unresolved conflict- anger, hurts and terrible words.
✓ Poor performance - emotional depletion.
✓ Financial loss - debts, losses and poor decision making.
Getting angry, stressed up, hurts and becoming irrational are the outcome of stress and burnout.
C. Ministry-Life Balance – Matthew 11:28-30
It is vitally important that ministers are able to strike the much needed balance between ministry and living. If truly His yoke is easy, why are ministers experiencing being heavy laden in ministry? It is as a result of lack of balance on our part!
A balance minister must have;
▪ Emotional balance.
▪ Mental balance.
▪ Family balance.
▪ Spiritual balance.
▪ Social balance.
▪ Financial balance.
▪ Physical balance.
▪ Psychological balance.
If you are not balanced in these areas, then you can’t minister successfully to others. Here are steps to achieve this balance:
1. Re-order your priorities right: God first, family second, ministry last.
2. Eat healthy foods in measures: living foods, not dead foods; and not after 6-7pm.
3. Drink alkaline or living waters.
4. Train others and delegate your work.
5. Spend time with your spouse and children.
6. Have peace with God and possess the peace of God – Isaiah 26:34.
7. Negate toxic feelings, thoughts and words.
8. Take healthy breaks to refresh yourself.
9. Take time to seek and wait upon God.
10. Exercise – walk, ride bicycle or stretch your body regularly.
11. Take time off – vacations, holidays and rest periods.
12. Learn to sleep 7-8 hours night sleep. Catch a nap in the day time.
13. Rest in the Lord to work through you – not you working for Him.
And a senior college in ministry add:
14. Surround yourself with people you can REALLY laugh with, not competitors whose only conversation is about gauging ministry achievements
15. Never isolate yourself when going through a crisis.
16. Learn that NO is a complete sentence. You can’t make others happy while making yourself miserable!
17. Recognize that it is God’s work. You are only a co-labourer not a sole-labourer. Work with Him, not for Him. What He wants done is what gets done.
18. Find out what your own “dispensation” of grace is and DO IT. Whatever is assigned is what is anointed
19. Stop trying to be popular. Cure yourself of the approval addiction
20. Become vision-driven, not project-driven
21. Supplement your diet. Most of our foods don’t provide all necessary vitamins we need daily. Get a very good multivitamin, not some cheap roadside supplements.
22. Put the past behind you. Stop living in regret. Address the issue, redress where possible. Then progress into the future
23. Drink water. Plenty. Drink about a litre early in the morning before breakfast. Warm or room temperature. Drink water thirty minutes before or after your meals. If you drink at all while eating, one glass is enough and to temperature. Cold water slows down your digestion especially as you grow older.
24. As much as possible, reduce intake of processed fruit juice and canned drinks.
Permit me to round up with this pathetic story:
It was Robert Murray Mchene who said, “God gave me a horse and a message, now I have killed the horse and could not deliver the message”. He said that on his death bed! He started ministry at 26 years and died at 29 years of age! What a loss!