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I just walked out of my seminar on burnout called "Toast" and I'm amazed at how many people in the class admitted through tears to being on the verge of or in the middle of burnout. MInsters. Ministers' spouses. Musicians. Preachers. Pre-school volunteer. A nurse and a doctor. Seems to be an epidemic. Here are few stats, some from a survey of over 11,000 pastors in the U.S. a few years back:

  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.

  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession. Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they really are not. The majority of pastors' wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

  • Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.

  • Seventy percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.

  • Stress now contributes to 90% of all diseases. Half of all visits to doctors are stress-related

    The seminar seemed to scratch an itch well enough that I've been approached about turning Toast into a full blown conference for the stressed. Of course that could mean stress for me. Might be time to practice what I just preached and say "no" but who knows? We'll see.

    Blogger Loren said...

    I we americans need to learn how to vacation...I just got back from one and only answered 3 work-related calls and only checked my work email 5 times!!! ouch

    Blogger Amy said...

    exactly. the people in this country overwork themselves. I recently read that the average American gets 10 days of vacation a year and over half don't take all of those days. Is that crazy or what? Compare that to Europe or Australia.

    being a PK and mostly in smaller churches, I can say we went through those times. We definitely went through some pretty rough stretches. We had a lot of uncooperative people and just plain ugly people. Thankfully, my dad was on a lot of committees for the denomination so he had support there.

    Blogger MommyHAM said...

    Wow...those are harsh stats - wish we could do a better job at carrying each other's burdens

    Anonymous euphrony said...

    Just a few examples from my own life as to how the "body of Christ" can forget the meaning of "Do all things without grumbling or disputing":

    1) We got a new preacher a few years ago, who was thoroughly criticized by a vocal minority. To satisfy them he lost weight, changed his hair, got new glasses, etc. The gist of their complaints: he's not our old preacher.
    2) We just had a quarterly meeting, held by the elders, to update the congregation on various issues. After updates on building progress and the search for a new bilingual outreach minister, the following hour was spent arguing over two issues that have been argued over for the last 150+ years. No further update information was able to surface through the mire.
    3) Chatting with a friend as we left the meeting, he commented something to the effect of "boy, I feel so uplifted now that I have to go home a detox" (rather than staying for the following worship service).
    4) A friend of mine recently left youth ministry because (among other things) he was instructed that he could not associate with some of the teens or their parents for various reasons.

    The lengths we go to, not in honest discussion of scripture but in vitriolic diatribes, tears at the unity of the body and tears at the hearts and (personal) lives of the church leadership that bears the brunt of the complaints. Whether it comes from people dissatisfied because of a change (case 1), unhappy with where we perceive the body to be heading (case 2), unhappy with being around people who are concerned and themselves unhappy (case 3), or some other example, it most definitely adds to stress and burnout of those in the ministry.

    Shaun, if you do get roped in to holding a full conference on this, I'm not sure if it is the church leadership that needs tips on coping or the congregants who need instruction on how to not tear down the poeple seeking to build them up. Though call on that.

    Blogger clint said...

    I was one of those in your seminar class who was burned out. I left you a little note for prayer. Thanks for accepting it. I wanted you to know that what you said gave me hope and direction in my life. I now have four goals which I want to work on: a) learn some people skills; b) practice the spiritual disciplines; c) love and minister to my wife first, then church; and d) study worship and help to correct my church's theology on the subject.

    I got nothing at all out of any of the songwriting classes at that seminar. Your class was one of three classrooms set side by side, and I literally did an "eenie meenie miney mo" and picked your class. Thanks for speaking at the conference and for praying for me.

    Blogger Seth Ward said...

    It wouldn't be too stressful if you got some other people in on the action.


    Blogger clint said...

    That's easy to say, but often very hard to do - especially if you live in the north and are working in a church-plant.

    Thanks, though.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    all three of Shauns classes were amazing. filled with truth and conviction with love. i left these classes a completely changed person, which is what's supposed to happen when God's involved.

    thanks shaun
    caleb miller

    Blogger Shaun Groves said...

    Thanks caleb and clint for the kind words. And for coming to my class(es). I learned as much from the people and stories after I taught each class as I did studying for teaching them.

    Caleb, I looked for you after the night concert as promised but we must have just missed each other. Shoot me an e-mail sometime and we'll talk some more. shaunfanmail@bellsouth.net


    Blogger Suzanne said...

    I was in all three of your classes this past week - yeah gold star. I really enjoyed all of them. As a new worship leader, I was looking for some tools to keep me from getting burned out. My biggest problem is I just can't seem to say no. Thanks for taking the time to come talk to us.

    Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

    The idea of starting a ministry to Christian leaders and their families--providing healing to the burned out and preventive help to those who are on their way to burnout--keeps smacking me upside the head. I sure have done the burnout thing enough myself.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I am a pastor's wife and boy does this describe my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Blogger marianne said...

    Chiming in to admit total burnout...mommy burnout. Makes me sad. My kids really need an un-burnedout mom!

    I'd come to your conference.


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