5 Ways To Combat Salvation Army Burnout…

With all of the news of mega church pastors leaving, taking sabbaticals and burning out, I thought it fitting to discuss helpful ways that The Salvationist can combat burnout as well.  Burnout is real, it is not something imagined or evidence of a weaker person simply giving up.  We all face exhaustion from time to time, and we also face critical, stressful situations that leave us looking for the exit sign…trust me, I’ve been there on numerous occasions.

But as an Officer and Salvationist, we have a mission to serve, but what if along the way we face difficulties, discouragements, and suffer depression and loss of passion?  What then?  I can assure you this is nothing new, and many have been to this point…many have also walked away because of it.  fire

I will also boldly say that The Salvation Army must recognize some of the lasting structural inconsistencies.  The quasi military approach that once thrived is not as appealing as it once was to a very individualistic thriving culture.  Sometimes old models of leadership need to be challenged in order for real change to take place and so that we can once again get back to mission instead of policy.  So, right off the bat, understand the Titanic turning of a large, global organization (movement) is daunting and sometimes frustrating to face.

Harvard Business Review had an article that identified six virtues of a dream company, which was compiled by hundreds of business executives.  For our purposes, imagine this “dream company” to be The Salvation Army…see if these virtues match:

1.  You can be yourself
2.  You’re told what’s really going on.
3.  Your strengths are magnified.
4.  The company stands for something meaningful.
5.  Your daily work is rewarding.
6. Stupid rules don’t exist.
(Source: HBR Article Link)

Apart from the organizational issues, what can individual salvationists do to combat burnout while serving within its ranks (soldier, officer, employee ect.)?  Here are just five ways to combat burnout in our Army.  Take them for what they are, a primer that allows us to face real life issues happening all around us.  This is just a “starter list”…there is much more that can be said within this topic.

5 Ways To Prevent Salvation Army Burnout: 

flame1. Have an Identity apart from the Army
Sometimes this goes against conformity doesn’t it?  We are told to dress alike, be of one army, one mind, yet we are also people who need to know who we are as God’s children who are called by Him.  We must find out who we are apart from the uniform, apart from the mission.  Sometimes this requires us to take a step back and reevaluate who we are and why we do the things we do.  Self identity is vital to combating burnout because without knowing who we are we can become washed away by the powerful tides of stress that are rampant in any organization.  When you go home, when you spend recreational time away – be yourself!

2. Find Hobbies To Enjoy smoke
Not everything is about mission sometimes (gasp!), in order to combat burnout is a fast paced thriving movement such as the Army, we must be able to relax from time to time.  Some are excellent wood workers and carpenters and they relax by doing what they love.  If you paint – then paint.  If you enjoy geocaching, then get out and do that!  Find things to enjoy, to look forward to on your next unscheduled day.  Plan for these hobbies.  Be intentional in taking the time to enjoy them.  This will enable you to disconnect from the everyday stress of “work”.

3. Leave Your Work At The Office!! work
Seriously, we have a lot of work-a-holics in our Army.  That’s not all bad.  Hard work is wonderful!  But when it jeopardizes your families, when they don’t know who you are anymore because you constantly work, there is something wrong with that!  I would even go out on a limb and tell you overworking yourself is a sin.  STOP IT!  When you can, leave the work at the office.  This will not always happen, I know that, but when you can leave it! Combating burnout requires us to take drastic steps, and for some of us, leaving unfinished work at the office is very, very drastic!

4. Switch Things Up!  change
We all get stuck in ruts sometimes.  So change up your schedule.  Go for a walk, spend more time talking to people instead of staring at your computer screen.  Flip your schedule so that some of your work gets done at the end of the day.  Do something different so that the ruts are broken, and in so doing, you might experience a little bit of perspective within your day.  When you do this, take time to breathe.  I own an apple watch and I laughed at first at the new update on it.  It’s a new app called “Breathe”…what it does is remind me to take a full minute and focus on my breathing.  It was dumb at first, but then I started doing it, I switched up my schedule in the process…but now I look forward to that moment where I just breathe and relax.  Combating burnout in your life takes an effort to switch some things up.  So don’t just talk about it…do it!!

5.  Take Your Sabbath Seriously!
restThis, I consider to be one of the biggest sins in our Army.
Far too few of us really take a Sabbath.  Yes, it’s our day off, but we’re still “catching up” on work.  If God rested on the seventh day, don’t you think we should too?  Or are we essentially saying, “I’m better than God” in our actions?  When you plan your Sabbath days – TAKE THEM!  Don’t bring work or ministry into your Sabbath!  This is the time that you need personally to recharge your “batteries”.  You need to plug yourself back into the Power source which is God Himself!  Whatever that reconnection looks like to you, don’t take it for granted!  Get alone with God, find the time, stop sinning in overwork and do it!  If we really want to combat burnout, we must begin to realize just how important that Sabbath is for us.  It’s not just another day off, it is a day (or a matter of hours) to recharge and rest.

I know that there are other ways that will help combat burnout, what are some tools that you have used in your ministry?  What has helped you?  Why not share them here and help all of us as we ponder this together!  As always, thanks for reading!  Something more for our Army to ponder today!

God Bless you!

Lost Passion in Ministry?

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There’s an old joke that goes like this:

“A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!”

“Why not?” asked his mother.

“I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.”

His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 47 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!”

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 The problem:

There are, in reality, many pastors who feel this way.  They’ve either burned themselves out by working long hours, or they have simply lost the passion.   When some of us started out as young, vibrant, on fire for God pastors we could do anything!  We could face giants if we had to…but little by little over time some of us are at that point where we just can’t seem to go on anymore.

No one enjoys faking it in ministry.   No one wants to put up a front in our ministries and pretend it’s alright when at times it’s all wrong.  Some pastors will get to the end of their rope and walk away from the ministry, burned out and disillusioned.   While some others will hang on at the end of their rope but they are only going through the motions and passion is lost.

Can you identify?  Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  It’s a very uncomfortable place to be indeed!  Having no passion to get up in the morning and minister to people that you may find hard to love and lead.   Many pastors who are here and try to gut it out by working longer hours and striving harder often find themselves in depression and marital troubles.  Why?  Because the balance of ministry and family has been altered to over compensate for lack of passion.

How do pastors who are in this situation recover?  How do ministry leaders face their flocks when this personal crisis comes along?  Some pastors have friends within their congregations but it is often very hard to divulge personal issues with a member of flock.  Leaders who go to church goers with their issues can create separate troubles after all.  It is very hard to find peers when in a ministry or ‘appointed’ to a location that isn’t home to the pastor in question.

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 The Solution: (or at least 5 of them)

Steps to Recovering the Passion:

Here are a few suggestions that might help a pastor who is in need of finding their passion and way again:

1.  Take Vacation or a Sabbatical:

One of the top reasons pastors find themselves ministering without passion is because they have worked themselves to the bone.  Some are working 50 or more hours a week, striving to be ‘Super-Pastor’.  This passion over-compensator is very, very common within ministries of all kinds.  It’s not that work is to blame, but when one fixates on tasks instead of the purpose of the tasks we polarize our ministries.  Getting some perspective, collecting your breath is very important to reclaiming lost passion.

Someone once said that if God rested on the seventh day why do we think that we don’t need rest?  And this is true!  We as pastors need rest!  We can’t work seven days a week and expect to not suffer from burn out or family issues.  Ministry is requires a balance of pastoral and personal time and reflection.

Get away.  Plan a vacation without cell phone attachments or laptop involvement.  Do something that requires you to leave your work at home.  Spend time with your family.  Focus on improving these vital relationships.  Your family is your lifeline and anchor.  Without it in your ministry you might float away.  Invest in your family by resting together on vacation.

If you are able to and vacation just isn’t enough, ask your church denomination or district for permission to take a sabbatical.  Many times a sabbatical lasts between two months and a year. You might laugh at this notion, but which would you rather have a passionless ministry for the rest of your life or a concentrated holiday away for a relatively short period of time?

Rest is a vital component to recovering and reclaiming your lost passion once again.

2.  Read

The topics of our reading may vary but here’s an important tip:  Read both fiction and non-fiction books.  We all need an escape from the tasks of life, and sometimes reading a good fiction novel is a healthy way to take a break.  But don’t just stop in the fiction section; move on to challenging yet inspirational nonfiction.  There are many theologians and pastors out there that write excellent books for pastoral demographic.  Read up on their insights.  Take notes, highlight pages, find topics that inspire you.  Ask your peers and other pastors for some good books to read.  There is even websites now devoted to the recommendation of good reads.  Invest some time in reading more.  This investment has the potential of reversing the course of a passionless ministry.  Obviously don’t forget to consult ‘The Word’ as well in your search for good reads.  God’s word can be a salve in times of need and the Lord can speak to us through its reading.

3.  Join a Bible Study

Pastors and others in ‘the ministry’ often spend so much time shepherding and tending to the flock that they forget that they themselves have to be fed spiritually.  Even Jesus got away from time to time to be fed by His Father in Heaven.  Many pastors suffer from burn out and a passionless ministry because they haven’t taken the time to sit under someone else’ ministry.  We need to be fed like any other sheep in the pen.  Finding time to do this is difficult, of that I know!  But when we allow the time to find a fresh source of spiritual nourishment for us, we possibly reinvigorate our passions.

Perhaps there’s a church in your local area that conducts a bible study that fits into your schedule.  If nothing fits, then again look at your schedule.  Perhaps you’re so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that you are headed down the road of burn out…and that is not healthy!  Find the time!  Get to a group that you don’t lead!

Another danger in finding a bible study group as pastors is that we can either want to take control or become overly critical of the leader.  Be careful you don’t attend an ‘outside’ bible study solely with this attitude of ‘take control’ or ‘criticism’.   You will not be fed within this context and you will undoubtedly cause resentment either within yourself or others attending.  Instead enter a bible study group under someone else’ leadership with a humble heart and mind and listen for God to instruct you through these lessons or small group ministries.  Finding inspiration and passion in ministry has to have a source of fresh water and life, so to speak.

4.  Find a Pastor’s Group/Accountability Partner

Don’t pick a friend, or one who will say ‘yes’ to everything to share with them.  Find a mentor or another pastor who is possibly longer in the years of ministry than you are.  This may not always be the case, but it helps to create a disciple/discipler atmosphere.

Pastoral associations are okay sometimes…other times they run the risk of becoming a gossip group or a whine session.  Avoid these scenarios if you desire to restore your passion in the ministry.  Find not only one who challenges you but will pray for and with you as well.  We need to be challenged and listened to.  Being able to share our struggles with some in a confidential setting is also a vital must!

A Pastor usually can’t go to church member with issues.  It just doesn’t work.  Pastors, don’t neglect your times of being shepherded!  Allow others to come along side you in your times of need.  Seek out mentors on your own and learn from them.  Share and pray together as well.

There are times when pastors possibly need more than mentor as well.  Don’t be fearful of finding a counselor or a Christian therapist either.  It’s not a sign of weakness to seek out professional help, many people do.  Don’t let old stigmas of counseling keep you away from finding help in the midst of depression or other psychological needs!

5.  Pray

Do not underestimate the power of prayer in your lives and in your ministries!  Prayer shouldn’t be a ‘last resort’ tool, but rather a primary weapon utilized in our daily lives.  Jesus prayed.  We should also!  Remember the only source and power that will keep us going in our ministries is the power of God.  In order to be connected to the power daily and even moment by moment we have to be in constant contact with Him through prayer.  It’s our conversation and relationship to Him that ought to keep us going; our love and devotion which propels us onward.  This Christian life isn’t easy, and when we add the responsibility or leadership to that we find ourselves facing even more challenges.

Don’t live in a passionless ministry!  Don’t simply go through the motions when you get burned out or burned up.  A passionless ministry usually indicates something in life is either missing or out of place.  Face it.  Address it.  There are obviously more remedies than the five that I’ve listed but begin here, and my prayer for you is that you find your passion once again!

Additional Reads:

http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/145294-a-leader-in-crisis-i-ve-lost-my-excitement.html

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/spring/losingedge.html

http://www.redpointmag.com/2012/02/28/keeping-your-passion-for-ministry/

http://www.ministryhealth.net/mh_articles/234_twenty-five_ways_passion.html

LOVE THIS SITE:

http://soulcare.com/

And the ministry of Mindy Caliguire

http://www.soulcare.com/bio

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