Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stress and Burnout in Ministry

I've had a long distance association with Australian Rowland Croucher for a number of years, first when I used to buy his books in for the bookshop I ran, and more recently, with the advent of Facebook, in seeing his regular contributions to that site. I also get a (fairly) regular ezine from him.

In the last couple of days he's put together a short piece in which he compiles the main links to articles on his John Mark Ministries site relating to stress and burnout. Unfortunately, unless you're (a) a member of Facebook, and (b) a 'friend' of Rowland's, you won't be able to access this page.

So, over the next week or two, I'm going to give you links to the various articles he's focusing on. There are some basic ones on stress and burnout as well as pages where he lists still more links - the list goes on and on. (Of course, once you're on the John Mark site, you'll be able to access these articles yourself, although Rowland's made it a bit easier to find some of them.)

Some of these articles aren't new, by any means. Nevertheless, the material in them isn't dated; if anything the problem has got worse since these articles were written.

Here's a good piece for starters. It's written by Rowland, is directly on the topic (Stress And Burnout In Ministry), and talks not only about why pastoral ministry is so stressful, but also offers some basic advice on how to overcome some aspects of the stress.

I like the way he puts one of the recommendations for staying healthy:

2. Take regular time off. You aren't called to work harder than your Creator.

Develop a way of being 'through for the day' (at least most days).
Take your full four weeks' annual leave in one stretch (and make alternative arrangements for weddings, etc.).
Encourage your denomination to include two weeks' extra, all-expenses-paid study leave each year.
On your day/s off, do something very different from what you do the other days. (Wednesday or Thursday is best for preachers - away from the adrenalin-arousing Sundays).
Listen to Spurgeon: 'Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body... If we do not rest, we shall break down. Even the earth must lie fallow and have her Sabbaths, and so must we'.
Jesus said, 'Come apart and rest awhile'. (If you don't rest awhile, you'll soon come apart!).

[Spurgeon should know: he struggled with depression a good deal.]

Take some time off to read this article. If may be a lifesaver!

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