Avoiding Pastoral Burnout

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.

Burnout & Breakdown: Barna’s Risk Metric for Pastors

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.[1]

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: mark@gracefellowshipinternational.com


[1] 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).

Body Life Through Christ

Miles Stanford observed, “One hears much today about body life, with its emphasis upon New Testament gathering, rather than Christ-centered growth. The Body is meant to manifest the Head, and that necessitates spiritual members.”

T. Austin-Sparks counseled pastors,

Where there is no Cross there is no life, and no ministry of life. The object of suffering is that there may be a full and abundant ministry. . . . We are not to invite trouble, nor by austerity to ill-treat our bodies. The Holy Spirit Himself takes responsibility for our experience, leading us in paths where we encounter, in body, heart, or spirit, that measure of ‘the dying of Jesus’ that will mean enrichment of our ministry.

There are many today who seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we are to return to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterize the N.T. churches, the Word does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be formed!

There is no blueprint for churches in the N.T., and to try to form such churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23; cf Gal. 2:20).

(See the free online publications of T.A.S. at www.Austin-sparks.net )

The Message of Galatians for Today

One of the main causes of lukewarm pastorates and churches is the attempt progress in sanctification by self-effort.

Although it is obvious that the epistle to the Galatians refutes the heresy that the works of the Mosaic law are necessary to become a child of God (Gal 1:6-9; 3:23-29), it is not as apparent that it also teaches sanctification by grace through faith, enabled by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20,21;3:1-3; 5:56,22,23). This latter aspect of the gospel is vital and liberating.

This discovery led to the development of The Sonship Course by Dr. Jack Miller of Serge Ministries.

But preaching Galatians verse by verse can come across as culturally remote and merely academic. For a sermon series that unpacks the message of Galatians with an exemplary blend of exposition, illustration and application, see the “Be Free” series preached by the pastors at Bayside Chapel in Barnegat, New Jersey. www.Baysidechapel.org

Pietism’s Timeless Testimony

Philipp Jakob Spener, (1635-1705), was a German theologian, author, and a leading figure in German Pietism, a movement among 17th- and 18th-century Protestants. He stressed personal improvement and upright conduct as the most important manifestations of Christian faith.

Spener’s major work was Pia Desideria (1675; “Pious Desires”). That work outlined Pietism’s basic program and earned Spener a reputation throughout Germany as the spokesman for the movement.

The third section comprises the six proposals for correcting conditions within the church. These six, in abbreviated form, are:

  1. That “thought should be given to a more extensive use of the word of God among us.”
  2. That there be “the establishment and diligent exercise of the spiritual priesthood.”
  3. That “the people must have impressed upon them and must accustom themselves to believing that it is by no means enough to have knowledge of the Christian faith, for Christianity consists rather of practice.”
  4. That “we must beware how we conduct ourselves in religious controversies with unbelievers and heretics …. We must remind ourselves of our duty to the erring.
  5. That both integrity of life and sound education which includes spiritual development be considered necessary when calling persons to be pastors.
  6. That sermons be so prepared by all that their purpose (faith and its fruits) may be achieved in the hearers to the greatest possible degree.”

Whatever one’s denominational background, these principles are vital for church renewal. Baptist scholar, Alvin Reid, gives a summary of relevant lessons in this video.

Sources:

Encyclopaedia Britannica
pietisten.org/iii/3/spener.html
Christianity Today, “Philipp Jakob Spener” (Apr 26, 2019).
Malcom McDow and Alvin Reid, Firefall 2.0: How God has Shaped History Through Revivals

All Sufficient Grace

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God.  They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane’s designer knew how to take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles.  What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way …If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations. 

Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead.  They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and begin to complain.  And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising.  It is that simple — and it works. 

Lord, I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down.  Amen.

Tozer on Christian Leadership: A 366-Day Devotional, Complied by Ron Eggert, Christian Publications, Inc., 2001; December 9

A Seminary Professor Finds Peace

In his book, They Found the Secret (Zondervan), former Chancellor of Wheaton College, Dr. V. Raymond Edmond, noticed a pattern in the lives of 20 Christian leaders. After their wholehearted commitment to God (Romans 12:1,2), their came a season of weariness– an awareness of their inability to live victoriously. Then there was a grace awakening related to their union with Christ that gave them increased peace, joy, and fruitfulness.

Dr. John Best, had a similar breakthrough while teaching New Testament Greek at Dallas Seminary. He recounts his spiritual journey in this video. His testimony and others are in the book, Exchanged Lives! (available on Amazon Kindle as an ebook).

The Risk of Ministry Burnout

The Risk of Ministry Burnout: How to Survive and Thrive by God’s Grace

was the topic of a recent webinar hosted by Grace Fellowship International.

Pastor Bob Galasso testified of how he and his wife, Joan, experienced burnout, but also went through a process of rest, discovery, renewal. This opened the door for a new season of encouraging others through Alive in Christ Ministries. Bob is the author of ‘Stones Of Remembrance’, and ‘A Leap of Faith’ (available on Amazon.com). He can be reached at delightedbyjoy@yahoo.com

The Greatest Thanksgiving

by Dr. Lewis Gregory

America the Beautiful, we have much for which to be thankful. Truly “God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!” Therefore, let your thanksgiving include all we are and have as a nation, by virtue of God’s abundant mercy and grace. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:8-9).

But the greatest thanksgiving this Thanksgiving Day should be “For the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:14–15). The greatest occasion to give thanks is for the grace that God has bestowed upon us all through Jesus Christ. God’s grace is freely available to all mankind because of Christ’s death upon the cross. Grace is the activity of God on our behalf, as mediated by Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God! Grace is a reality to be experienced with thanksgiving! God’s grace is so far beyond the grasp of our finite minds that it truly defies description. While most people may be at a loss for words when it comes to grace, there is one thing that everybody can say, “Thank You, God!” So, this Thanksgiving, as well as every day, remember to thank God for the indescribably amazing grace that is now yours in Christ…

Read the full article here:
https://mailchi.mp/1fe7ef39b706/tgim-this-is-living-642158?e=8f7f3f3f4c