Barna has been publishing the results of their research on The State of Pastors. They examined how many pastors are at risk of burnout, relational breakdown or spiritual problems.
Dr. Archibald Hart wrote on the challenges of burnout and stress...their similarities and differences. For example,
- Burnout is a defense mechanism characterized by disengagement. Stress is characterized by over engagement.
- In burnout, the emotions become shut down. In stress, the emotions become overactive.
- Burnout can best be understood as a loss of ideals and hope. Stress can best be understood as a loss of fuel and momentum.
- Burnout may never kill you, but your long life may not seem worth living. Stress may kill you permanently and you won’t have enough time to finish what you started.
Spiritual renewal can provide love, forgiveness, wisdom and strength to avoid burnout. A devotional writer observed,
“Our Father is going to teach us, mainly through personal failure, that the life we live is the life of our Lord Jesus alone. The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; ‘no longer I, but Christ.’“
“The end of Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection was to prepare and form a holy nature and frame for us in Himself, to be communicated to us by union and fellowship with Him; and not to be able to produce in ourselves the first originals of such a holy nature by our own endeavors.”
“The believer’s true education is in the growth of Christ within. The Church’s real ministry is not multitudinous public services, so-called, but the forming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of His people; the reproduction of Christ; epistles made alive by the Holy Spirit, to be seen and read of all men.” -C.A.F.
Mark McKeehan, Executive Director of Grace Fellowship International, is reaching out to pastors, offering encouragement, mentoring and grace-based resources. You are welcome to contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Excerpted from Coping with Depression in the Ministry and Other Helping Professions. New York, NY: W. Publishing Group, 1984 (cited in Lifeline to Hope Training Manual, Hope for the Heart).