Avoiding burnout in ministry

Back in Bible College I had a professor whom I greatly admired and respected for his knowledge of scripture and its implementation in real life ministry. What I respected most was his openness and honesty about his life, both the successes and all the failures. Throughout my four years in college, his constant advice was clear, “Set your boundaries and place your family first. There will always be more to do.” This advice comes from a man who started strong in pastoral ministry but eventually burned out hard due to overworking and neglecting his family’s needs.

Through hearing his stories in college and then hearing the same advice frequently repeated in seminary, setting ministry boundaries is something that’s now ingrained in me. I give the time to God that belongs to Him without feeling guilty about allowing time for me and, after July 22nd, my wife.

In order to survive any king of longevity in ministry, time restrictions must be established and kept. There will always be more work to do, meetings to attend, demands to be met, people to reach, and planning to complete, but there will also always be tomorrow to work on those things. And, if tomorrow never comes, then apparently God didn’t think those things important enough for me to complete anyway.

It’s interesting that those in the secular marketplace have made this same discovery and are putting it into practice by switching to four-day work weeks. The author has some excellent input on this matter that is easily applicable to vocational ministry.

(ht to Paul)

Posted on May 9, 2006

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