March 5, 2015

Thinking about Lent

Ross Peterson, a clinical pastoral counselor and executive director at the Chicago office of Midwest Ministry development, reflects on the issue of pastoral burnout.

"When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call.  When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren't close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout."    (Read more in Christian Century, March 4, 2015)

Peterson's comment is certainly in line with my personal experience as a pastor and a district executive minister.  Doing core ministries is not nearly as tiring as caring out other person's expectation of you, or of working at tasks that are beyond your gifts or things you simply do not enjoy doing.  And in my experience of relating to all sorts of people, that experience is not limited to pastors but to other vocations as well.

During this season of Lent, you may wish to reflect on how you are using your time.  Are you spending at least 80% of your time doing things that you enjoy doing and that you feel are meaningful and fulfilling?  Are you burning yourself out because you are not only busy doing what you need to do, but also trying to fulfill everyone else's expectation for you as well? Think about it and reflect on how you can become a better person for Jesus' sake and your own.