The 7 Completely Doable Steps to SOLVE PASTOR BURNOUT and REGAIN YOUR PASSION in THIRTY DAYS.
By BRIAN ZEHR
One of the main issues that I see pastors struggle with daily is BURNOUT.
Over the last 25 YEARS, I’ve been working to solve this. Today I want to tell you about the 7 powerful steps that you can take to SOLVE PASTOR BURNOUT and REGAIN YOUR PASSION.
The Best Part?
With this powerful method you can get results in as little as THIRTY DAYS.
Let’s Dive In:
7 Completely Doable Steps to SOLVE PASTOR BURNOUT
Step 1: TAKE INVENTORY. What ARE all the things you’re responsible for? When you understand all the various areas, group them in categories. For example, if two or more areas are similar in nature, label them under a single heading. Create a physical, visual inventory of all the areas you deal with. These can include: preaching, pastoral care, worship, staff management, vision and strategy, volunteer coordination, scheduling, adult education, children’s ministry, board meeting preparation, church leadership, custodial care of the facilities, technology, financial management, giving and generosity, personal education, campaigns, missions, weddings, funerals, confirmations, baptisms. You get the idea. List them out and group them together in an orderly manner.
This should not take more than 2 days. Now, when you look at them grouped together, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: INCLUDE SOMEONE. Ask yourself this question: “Am I in charge of everything?” If the answer is yes, the next question to ask is, “Why?”. Church is a community, and if everything falls on you, it affects the community aspect. I know, it’s easy to say “grab a volunteer” and harder to do it. But one way to regain your passion is to include people in what you do. You may need to do some things alone, perhaps. For everything else, you have an opportunity to expand the community by inviting someone along. Instead of asking for someone to take on a monumental task (like you have), invite someone to experience it with you. People are less intimidated when they know they will learn something. The thought of being left on their own can cause great concern. The saying “Many Hands Make Light Work” is true even in ministry.
Create a list of people you would like to include for each group of your responsibilities. Don’t jump into inviting them yet, just identify them here. When you look around you with an eye to including, your view of the people you interact with will change. Take a careful look at people and think about who you can include. When the time is right, the invitation will feel like an honor, and not a burden.
This may take a week, but put one or two names next to each area, and move ahead to Step 3.
Step 3: UNDERSTAND YOUR OWN ENERGY. Are you a night person? If so, don’t schedule critical times for reflection and learning in the morning. The same holds true for meetings in which your close attention and involvement are vital. The same holds true the other way if you are a morning person. Look at your groupings, and manage your day and week around your energy. Let me repeat this: SCHEDULE YOUR TIME ACCORDING TO YOUR ENERGY. If you have left your daily routine to chance, now is the time to regain control. Focus on the things which need the most attention to detail at your peak energy times. Sometimes these are the things we least enjoy or are the most difficult for us.
Take a few days to understand your energy. Craft a schedule that you begin to live by on a daily and weekly basis. Now, you’re ready for Step 4.
Step 4: HANG OUT WITH TRUSTED PEERS. Create a “Leadership Roundtable”. The Leadership Roundtable is a small group, or a one-on-one with an individual you trust. This should be with people who can encourage and counsel you, and build into you. These people are here to help you discuss and solve the leadership issues you face. Perhaps it’s a peer, a mentor, or a personal friend. Schedule this time regularly – and stick to the schedule. Everyone needs someone to build into them. You will be surprised how much the other person needs you, too, so get to it and get started.
Think through this and decide on one or two people to begin with, and make the call. Set up a time to meet over coffee or in whatever relaxed setting you prefer.
Take a week to consider and set up the first meeting, and head on to Step 5.
Step 5: BUILD A TEAM. Remember Step 2? By this time, you have the organized list in hand from Step 1. You have people in mind from Step 2. Your scheduling priorities are clear from Step 3. And, you have enlisted support from trusted advisers in Step 4. Take the list from Step 2 and find one person to invest in. Bringing someone along, including them, one at a time does two things. First, it helps you. If you can GET ONE PERSON TO UNDERSTAND AND JOIN YOU, YOU ARE NO LONGER ALONE. Isolation is draining, both physically and mentally. If you have ever said to yourself, “nobody understands [this or me], I’m doing all this by myself!” then this step is the key to regaining your passion for ministry.
When seeking to invite people along (and invest in them), say “I see in you” the gift of (or passion for) whatever it is that you see in them. Do not tell them, “I need your help to teach 3rd grade Sunday school for the rest of your natural life.” I know you would not say that, but sometimes that is what people think when asked to “help”. Here’s a better example, “Allison, I see in you the gift of happiness around children. You seem to come alive when you’re with them. To me, this is a leadership gift. I’d love to invest in you to see where this leadership gift can take you in your spiritual life.” When the inevitable question comes back, “OK, what does that mean?” you can respond by saying you would like to have the person join you in some of the activities you lead. In so doing, you will develop a deeper relationship with that person, and can see where their true gifts lie. When you know they’re ready to lead, and when they know it, too, then you can ask them to take on the role. Not before. As you spend time together, you will discern where they’re best suited in leadership. It’s possible Allison should serve in a different ministry, despite her obvious passion for children. But without investing time in the relationship, you may never know.
Improve your teams’ success by building into people individually, before they step into a leadership role.
This step gives you, one person at a time, the building blocks of a creating team. Working in a team of people garners more success and is more energy-giving than going it alone.
Carefully focus and pray for eyes to see, then invite one person to invest in. You can do this in a week. The time needed to invest in someone lasts much longer, taking this step will propel you toward your passion again – and theirs!
Step 6: LIMIT EXPOSURE TO ENERGY-DRAINING PEOPLE. Taking the steps above help you identify people to invest time in. It will also remind you of those who drain you of your final energy reserves. With a Leadership Roundtable and burgeoning team of leaders in place (leaders who understand you and your goals), you will have more energy to give to generating new ideas and solving crises. There will also be more people in position to help you deal with those who often drain you of energy. Perhaps one of the people you invest in is someone whose gifts were not being applied. Now they can begin to shift from an energy drainer to an energy provider!
Step 7: CARE FOR YOURSELF. This really should be Step 1, but if I started this with it, you’d have stopped reading because it’s so over used. But I truly mean it. Write out the things you need to be a better leader. Do you need to eat better? Write it down, make a list and inch your way to a healthier daily diet. What about your physical routine? Map out baby steps to get started, or to push yourself along if you’ve plateaued. How are your relationships? Do you RESERVE PERSONAL TIME for you, your spouse, your children and family? Make this time non-negotiable from work. You cannot lead from an empty tank. Fill it up on a daily basis. Include time for personal study and journaling, too. This daily “me first” approach is a lot less selfish than you think. When you have energy and reserves, you’re in a much better place to lead from.
This is a daily routine – but you can map it out in a few days.
That’s it. If you follow the steps above, you should start seeing results in as little as THIRTY DAYS. This is a system that took me some time to develop and I’m so glad I got to share it with you today. Tons of ministry leaders have achieved significant results from these steps, and I can’t wait to hear about yours!