Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Rest for your Soul
Most of us struggle at times with time management, stress, pressure, and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed. Perhaps I looked a little like I was heading in this direction, or it was that just God knew that I might be, when a Christian friend and colleague sent me this article, Death by Ministry from Mark Driscoll's blog at The Resurgence.

The article is aimed as pastors and their wives, discussing burnout in ministry leaders, the signs of burnout and some helpful suggestions to avoid it. It makes for some uncomfortable reading:
  • Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Almost forty percent [of pastors] polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • Seventy percent [of pastors] said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
It reminds me of the importance of praying for my pastor and his wife and family and of fulfilling my promise to do that more purposefully for a month. It also reminds me of the pressures they are under and to try not to over-burden them. It has reminded me to offer to look after their daughter for an evening to allow them to have some time together and has inspired me to be brave enough to invite them all round for dinner for a relaxing evening.

I offer Mr Driscoll's advice to you all believing that his suggestions from his own life in how to prevent burnout will be helpful to anyone who has ever felt stressed, burdened and overwhelmed. I have already seen where his solutions might be helpful in my own life.
1. Fill your plate In a conversation with Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii, he gave some very sagely advice. He said that each person's plate is a different size; each person needs to first find the size of their plate and then fill it only with those things that are of highest priority. And, before adding any additional things to our full plate, we must take something else off to leave space for the new duty...

4.Sabbath This includes taking five minutes off every hour to catch your breath, go for a walk, stand up at your desk, etc. It includes taking thirty to sixty minutes off a day to nap, go for a walk, read, garden, or whatever else releases your pressure and helps you to relax. This also means taking one day off a week to Sabbath, including a date night if you are in a serious relationship or married. This also includes a day or two off a month for silence and solitude and a few weeks a year for an actual vacation that does not leave you more tired than before it began.

9.Work from conviction, not guilt Conviction comes from God and guilt comes from people. The key to being both fruitful and healthy is to do what God wants and not always say yes to or let yourself be pushed around by people who are demanding and have perfected the art of making you feel guilty if you do not do what they demand.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29

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  posted at 18:06  

At 31 January, 2007 07:09, Anonymous thekingpin68 said...

That is interesting information, Keziah. I have never felt called to be a minister and I appreciate not having to deal with some related pressures. Trying to earn academic degrees provides its own problems, but we all have our struggles. Our church attempts to delegate leadership in order to somewhat alleviate the pressure on the pastors and I think it probably helps.


At 31 January, 2007 22:42, Blogger Keziah said...

Russ - thanks for visiting.

Just interested to know - what do you plan to do when you are finished your PhD? You've mentioned before your concerns about finding evangelical faculties in the UK, so do you plan to stay working in a university?

I don't say that as if the only suitable Christian service is being a minister. Rather I think it is so important to have godly men teaching in these seminaries to prepare the next leaders of the church. (It all fits in too with point 8 in Mark Driscoll's article: "Spend most of your time training leaders".)

At 05 February, 2007 20:28, Blogger Keziah said...

Russ tried to post this but Blogger was playing up, so he's emailed this to me

"Thanks Keziah,

I would like to find a job as a theology professor teaching philosophical, systematic theology and Bible somewhere in Canada or the UK, the countries for which I am a citizen. I will have to look at the USA of course as well. As you alluded to I would need to find a place to work with a certain degree of intellectual freedom. I see myself as working in a University or seminary, perhaps a Bible school. Apparently from what my previous advisor told me, in North America the professors teach much more than in the UK where more research is done. I would probably really enjoy being able to research and assist dissertation students but God would have to provide me with tolerant place in the UK, but you stated on satire and theology that there are conservatives working over there. Another issue is how expensive it is to live there. I have a friend from Gloucester that married an American and now lives in the USA and he states that it is far easier to get ahead financially in the USA rather than the UK. I do like the UK though in some ways. I think if one has a good job it could be very nice to live in. My theoretical chapters have been tentatively accepted and I am now looking for church attendees to complete a questionnaire. I need to work on my practical theology chapter as well. My PhD needs to be done with 1.5 years and then I will need to find work.

I agree with your second point.


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