Production Burnout

Chaplaincy

Burnout.

Expectations.

Success.

Production.

I think these words mean very different things to different people. I just read this amazing article, “Soul Care and the Roots of Clergy Burnout.” Very worth reading.

Some highlights and thoughts:

“Pastors who are effective and get things done are considered “successful.” Denominations, including the United Methodist Church, focus on results that can be measured (e.g., increased membership and the congregation’s financial well-being). Yet numerous studies over the past 20 years reveal that this approach is, literally, killing clergy and, by extension, churches and denominations.”

Production is a part of who we are as Americans. What we DO defines us. It also seems to be what kills us.

January is the month that highlights this in my life. After the long work hours of November and December, January’s need for the new year productivity just beats me up. I get depressed and start to spiral into a passive-aggressive lethargy. It happens. Every. Year.

It’ll pass. I’m proactive about “refilling my tank” but it’s still exhausting. My hope lies in my knowledge that “this too shall pass.” Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m writing this at a 0400 UA, waiting in line to have my urine analyzed with the rest of my company… Production indeed.

Even still, fellow ministers, how has the need for production impacted you? It’s worth thinking about.

2 thoughts on “Production Burnout

  1. Great article bro. I resonate. I’m the worship leader. My church gives me 3 Sundays off per year. Last year I only took 1. Was it my fault for not cultivating others to adequately lead in my place or pressure from leadership to not let quality diminish? If I’m honest, the answer to both questions is “yes”. Which is why ministry is challenging. Using the creative side of your brain as a performer yet the practical side as a recruiter/trainer/builder. Is there room in the evangelical church for rethinking the role of the minister?

  2. I guess that conversation starts with what the role of the minister is. In my setting, the role is that of the staff officer (reports, meetings, regulations etc) and the nebulous, “chaplain.” Which of course is very different to every commander I work for. Lately, (and I should post this I think) I am viewing my role as that of a wilderness explorer. I am familiar with the terrain, I’ve been there before (grief, spirituality, growth, and trauma) and I know the way out. I can’t walk the path for my “flock” but I do walk with them.

    Of course, how that actually looks on an annual performance review is an entirely different subject…

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