Ministry is awesome. Except when it isn’t. After 26 years pastoring, leading pastors, and helping pastors lead I have seen more than one quit, burn out or just explode. The ending is never pretty. Can it be avoided? Here are three things I have consistently seen people in ministry ignore to their peril:
- Can’t outwork, out-plan or overcome prayerlessness.
I can hear the groans. The excuses. The reasons why prayer is not the all-encompassing solution. I don’t know if this is an egg or chicken type of situation, but I have seldom seen a pastor crash and burn that had an intimate, personal and robust prayer life. I know there are examples. We call those exceptions. Here is the truth. Just like you can’t outwork a bad diet, you can’t out work prayerlessness. Its tiring. Think kite. You can fly it when the wind is blowing or you can run and make your own wind. Here are three questions:
How long are you praying every day? How many times a week do you fast? When do you study the bible to eat, not to feed?
We all have them. Everyone you meet is dealing with something they hate about themselves. Some just are better at masking it. The thing is, unattended private struggles tend to become public spectacles.
Weight. Sex. Mental illness. Family. Loss. Whatever.
Trace it. Face it. By God’s grace erase it. The devil thrives in secrecy. Unleash the power of the gospel that says its ok not to be ok when things are not ok. OK?
- Impact in our life of the dysfunction around us.
For some reason, and for the life of me I don’t know why, we tend to give dysfunctional, hurtful people passes. People have explosions in board meetings or church business sessions and we use phrases like “That’s just Anna” (made up name). We learn to cope with dysfunction. What we don’t confront we confirm. We just bid our time, untill we get another call and pass along the dysfunction to the next victim, er, I mean pastor. Dysfunction, like stress, is a silent killer.
So, what do we do? There are no easy solutions, but here are some suggestions.
Pray. Go on a retreat ASAP. Step away from the madness and the conferences and the planning and spend 3 straight hours in fasting and prayer, then get back to me.
Talk. Share your pain, talk to a professional. Kill the secrecy monster.
Brave. Prayer and counseling will prepare for the confrontation that needs to happen. Be brave. If God is for you, those who are against you are wasting their time.
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