8 Ways Senior Pastors Can Prevent Burnout

I’m seeing a disturbing trend.

As of late, a number of highly gifted friends of mine who are senior pastors of small to medium-sized churches have come perilously close to burning out.

Now, there has always been burnout in ministry as long as there have been senior pastors. But my read on this is that the stress placed on the shoulders of leaders in the trenches is unprecedented, at least in my lifetime.

People are attending less, serving less, giving less, and demanding more. And you and I know whom this ends up affecting the most.

Listen, I can’t change the demands being placed on you, but I might be able to give you some practical ideas about how to simplify your life and keep your tank filled.

1. Take a dull axe to your overloaded weekly schedule.

One of the first things I do when I begin coaching someone is spend an exorbitant amount of time figuring out how they’re wired, then challenging every single thing they have on their calendar. We forcibly align what they say their priorities are with the actual, realistic, finite amount of time they have to accomplish these things.

All sermon writing gets done by Wednesday at noon, with a goal of completing sermons 12 weeks in advance. Most standing meetings are dropped, with the exception of a staff meeting, a teaching team meeting, and a meeting with the worship pastor. If an executive pastor is in the mix, that is added too. But that’s it. Nothing gets on the calendar anymore without heaven and earth moving. Do not allow yourself to create another meeting on your calendar. Everything that needs to get done in your ministry can be done in those three to four meetings. Force everything to be done in those meetings…

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