Ministry leadership is extremely challenging. The burden alone makes ministry leaders more susceptible to burnout. Combine this with a view that overwork is a holy reality and leaders can easily move toward burnout. That is even further exacerbated by unhealthy expectations from people or an unhealthy need for affirmation from ministry leaders. While the burden will be great, ministry leaders must care for themselves so that they can care for others over the long haul. When a ministry leader burns out, the whole body suffers.
I recently recorded another 5 Leadership Questions podcast on the subject of burnout. We talked about leadership, burnout, and caring for yourself. One of the questions was “Is burnout more prevalent in ministry leadership?” I believe burnout is more common in ministry leadership for multiple reasons:
1. The burden of ministry
Serving others in ministry is a blessed burden. It is a blessing because you are honored to steward the grace of God and serve people, but it is a burden because the responsibility is so incredibly massive.
In 2 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul lists the persecutions and sufferings he has endured. The list is brutal and includes being beaten with rods, scourged, and shipwrecked. He chronicles how he has faced dangers from rivers, robbers, his own people, false brothers, and Gentiles. He recounts sleepless nights, hunger, and thirst. Yet with such a staggering list, his ending statement is:
Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)….