Life in Our Fishbowl: Ministry Burn Out

As a ministry family, it isn't long before you hear things like "avoiding burnout" and "struggling with burnout." What exactly IS burnout??? Here's what I have gathered. Burnout is a time when a ministry family is hurting or struggling and contemplating getting out of ministry forever. People have hurt them, offended them, confused them, attacked them or judged them. Or maybe it has to do with the physical aspect of ministry - they are tired, run down, mentally exhausted, or carrying too many burdens cast on their shoulders by members of their congregation.

As not only a pastor's wife, but a child of God cursed with a sin nature, I am also susceptible to this burnout issue. I've seen men and women and even pastor's kids become bitter towards the ministry or even the church itself. It is a heartbreaking experience for everyone involved.

I think it's important to remember that God never leads us down the easy path - He leads us on the path that will bring more glory to Him. It doesn't matter if you are in ministry or not - if you are God's child, you have been called to follow Christ. (Romans 8:29)  It doesn't matter what He will lead you through - He will always be there with you, alongside you, helping you, guiding you and loving you.
Psalm 91:1-2 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 
Over and over in Scripture God calls us to walk as Christ walked - and if you truly consider where Christ walked, His walk had joyous moments that involved having His feet washed with expensive perfume or palm branches and His walk also had moments of pain carrying His cross to the hill and lying down on it and dying on that cross. His walk was not easy.
Lamentations 3:32 "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love." 
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The hardest time in my Christian life was when I miscarried our daughter, Dorema (for more about her - go here). I remember sitting on the couch with my husband after crying and feeling my heart break and ache in more ways than I had ever experienced and feeling such peace -
Philippians 4:17 - "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
 I knew that if it were not for God's peace, I would have experienced my darkest days. The depression that wanted to seep into my soul was not allowed to enter because God's peace was there instead. I found comfort and even joy in knowing that God was there holding my heart and keeping it from shattering into a million pieces.
Lamentations 3:22 - "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
 I have to be honest, I'm not really sure why God led me to write about ministry burnout. Our ministry is going well right now and I'm very far away from feeling the kind of heartbreak that I describe here. It's possible of course that God is preparing me for something. Or maybe this is for you. Maybe YOU are feeling that "burnout" and you ARE going through those kinds of thoughts and struggles and you are not sure what God has for you or if He is even listening. If so this is for you. For more encouragement read Lamentations 3 and Psalm 42.
Psalm 42:5 "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." 
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  1. I don't know who you wrote this about, but it certainly applies to me. I don't have ministry burn out, but I do have mommy burn out. I've been feeling pretty worn and used up. Thank you for your encouraging words and verses this morning. <3 ya!

  2. Oh I'm sorry Cheri! Wish I could give you a big HUG! But I definitely know exactly what you mean - I've definitely been there and probably will be again! I'm glad this encouraged you!

  3. Such a great post. Burn out is SO easy to fall into. It is a CONSTANT reminder that, "Lord, I'm in this for You and not them. In my life or in my death may YOU get the glory for it. It doesn't matter what popular oppinion is. I am not afraid of men but I am Desprately scared of leading a life that is not pleasing to You and taking my eyes off of You. Lead me, grab me by the nape of my neck so I have NO CHOICE but to follow. Teach me to follow You so I can lead them, and teach them how to follow You!"

  4. You wrote this for the few like ME who are burned out: with little more to give right now. Thank you for these verses. I will meditate on them today.

  5. Not surebhow I came across this but thank you. I am a pastors wife and burned out doesn't even begin to describle my feelings. I gave birth to my 7 th child 3 weeks ago and at the same time my husbands salary was cut 50 percent. It is likely that our church doors will close. For the first time we are both at a loss as to where or what God wants us tondo next.

    Thank you for the scripture. I have been so depressed that I haven't opened my bible in weeks. I know I need too and I will.

  6. Adrienne - my heart aches for you and your family. These things are so hard to understand. One thing I know is that nothing gets past God's desk without HIS signature of approval. Because of this, we can know that HE is in control, not man. Lean on Him and HE will carry you! Praying for you! And I'm so glad you "stumbled" here! <3


Your comments are such a blessing and encouragement to me! If you have a question or comment that you would like to ask, feel free to comment below or email me at! I look forward to hearing from you!