It never fails, every few weeks I get to sit down either over coffee or on the phone with a brother-in-arms in the Gospel ministry who is ready to throw it all away and quit. “Walking back into the world seems like the only hope I have to stay alive” one said to me recently. Another pointing out how he just cannot go on taking the negative and thankless hatred that is spewed to his face and about him week after week.
It’s time to consider what makes a man go to the desperate end to consider walking away from what God calls him to do until his heart stops beating. I’ve never really written about this, but boy have I lived and dealt with it many times over. As a matter of fact, I have actually written a resignation letter more times than I can remember, the glory of it all, is that I have never printed them out and turned them in. Thank God for His grace.
“Burn Out” is one thing, continuing to “smoke” is another. As I entitled this post I thought some people would take this and run with it, we’ll see; however, when a pastor “burns out”, he often doesn’t even have the option of taking up smoking, because it would just belabor the problems in his life. And when ministry knocks you down and there is hardly any breath left in your lungs, you are now just blue, but beaten to a pulp – I digress.
Really though, burn-out for the pastor is something that all too often comes quickly and smothering to the point that he is unable to overcome the pain, even if he remains, and becomes disqualified to shepherd himself, must less any flock of sheep. As I think about these seasons in my past and know that there might well be such a season right around the corner, I think about Paul’s teaching to Timothy where he said, “preach the word in season and out of season.” I know Paul was not lying here, but I can honestly say I have never seen an “in-season” for the word of God in many congregations. Although one can see many in seasons in the lives of individuals and those who hunger passionately for God’s truth, as a whole, the bodies in the pews are not usually ready for the truth of God’s word. So thinking through the seasons of a pastor’s life, I think it’s a big and constant “out of season” lesson that we must endure.
Well, I hope this helped, have a great life…
Now if I had ended this article there it would have been a mess. So, as I move forward, I want to make very clear a few things. There are reasons a man feels burnout and some of them can be man-made or God-made. In this context, if a pastor, who is called of God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and shepherd the body of Christ to maturity and love is doing everything but what God has called him to do, he has reason to be burned out because he is a wasted life. On the other hand, sometimes proclaiming and pushing the truth to light brings some external and internal struggles that brings the frustration to a boil. I want to mention a few things, obviously not exhaustively, that might help such a man get his bearings. Continue reading “Depression | Burned Out and Smoking… | Dealing with Ministry Blacks and Blues”