Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Burnout

July 14, 2012

The Rural Ministry Blog is currently exploring the fact that every month 1,500 pastors leave the ministry due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within the church.  A recent article by Perry Noble stated “90% of the people that enter the ministry do not retire from the ministry.  They either quit or have some sort of moral/ethical failure that disqualifies them.”  In my opinion these statistics are frightening!  At no other time in history do we need effective pastors teaching and training their people, and yet we seem to be dropping like flies.  All of us entered the ministry desiring to not only retire from it, but to finish strong.  Yet if these statistics are correct, only 1 out of 10 of us will.  I don’t know about you, but I want to do everything I can to make sure that I’m not one of the 90%.

In my last two articles, I covered the topic of moral failure. Today I want to take a look at burnout.  The first step in dealing with burnout is defining the term.  One of the best definitions I have read is from the website helpguide.org:

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

Most of us have days when we feel bored, overloaded, or unappreciated; when the dozen balls we keep in the air aren’t noticed, let alone rewarded; when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. If you feel like this most of the time, however, you may be flirting with burnout. (source)

Because burnout is such a huge issue for those of us in the ministry it is absolutely imperative that we come up with a strategy to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.  Here are some tips:

Know your limitations. Let me give you an analogy to explain what I mean. I drive a Dodge Dakota truck that I am confident would go 100mph should I ever feel inclined to drive that fast.  However, if I was on a coast to coast journey and tried to go 100mph the entire trip, I am certain that my truck would break down long before I reached my destination.  Why? Because my truck is not designed to travel at that rate of speed for that length of time.  Our bodies are very similar.  God designed our bodies to be able to go “pedal to the metal” occasionally for brief periods of time. But if we try to live our lives “pedal to the metal” all the time we will find ourselves in a world of hurt mentally, physically, and spiritually. We need to understand our limitations and live within them if we want to avoid burnout. Just because Pastor So-and-so can work two outside jobs, pastor a church, lead three home groups, and survive on five hours of sleep a night, doesn’t mean that you can.

Learn how to say no.  Leadership expert John Maxwell said it this way, “If you can’t say no, your yeses mean less.”  Consistently over-committing yourself is just asking for trouble.  I must admit that this is a huge area of weakness for me.  I love helping people, and therefore hate saying no.  However, I realized a long time ago that I cannot do everything, and when I try to do everything my stress levels rise and my work quality tanks.  I’ve often had to say no to things that are very worthwhile endeavors to make sure I have enough time to do the things God has called me to do.

Take time for yourself.  All throughout the Gospels we see instances of Jesus leaving the crowds and going off by Himself to pray.  I am positive that there were people in those crowds that needed healing and deliverance, and the crowd certainly needed to hear the message that Jesus had. There was lots of ministry that needed to be done, yet Jesus left the crowds and went off by Himself to get alone with God.  If Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the omnipotent, omniscient God come in the flesh, needed to leave the demands of ministry to go off by Himself, then so do we.

By the way, this time should not happen on a day off – it should be scheduled ahead of time and should be part of your normal work routine.  I schedule one day of solitude per month in addition to my normal days off.  Why do I do this?  Because a day off is generally when we catch up on all the things that need to be done in our personal lives.  So even though it’s called a day off, it’s not a day for rest and reflection.  By scheduling in a day of solitude, it allows me to get the time I need to relax and reflect spiritually.

Unplug. Take some time to disconnect from your cell phone, e-mail, twitter, facebook, etc.  Despite what some people in your church may feel, you do not have to be available 24/7.  I know that some of you are thinking “but what if they have an emergency?”  Let’s be honest about that for a moment; how many of these “emergencies” are real emergencies?  Yes, the issue is important to the person calling, but in the majority of cases it can easily wait for a few hours.  Set your cell phone voicemail and e-mail autoresponder to tell people that you will be unavailable and give them contact information for the person they should talk to in your absence.

I think all of us would agree that burnout is a very real problem that we cannot ignore if we wish to finish the task we’ve been called to.  While researching this topic I ran across several good articles that explore the issue further.  Here are the links:

Preventing Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, & Coping Strategies

True & False Burnout: Are You Deceived?

Are You Headed for a Ministry Burnout?

7 Tips to Avoid Burnout

How about you? Have you ever experienced, or are you currently in, a state of burnout? How did it affect you and your ministry? Leave a comment below

Rural Resource – 5 Factors that Brought a Dying Church Back to Life

January 30, 2012

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is an article I found on Churchleaders.com by J.D. Greear called “5 Factors that Brought a Dying Church Back to Life.”  Even though I pastor a church that is very much alive, I found the article to be quite thought provoking.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Click here for the article

What can we, as rural ministers, do to insure that our churches do not die?  Leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

Freebie Friday – Audacity

January 27, 2012

A huge obstacle that is often faced in rural ministry is the lack of funds to buy tools and resources.  To help combat this problem the Rural Ministry Blog has Freebie Friday!  Every Friday we will take a look at a free, or nearly free, resource that could benefit anyone involved with rural ministry.

Today’s freebie is Audacity.  Audacity is a multi-track,  open source audio editor that is surprisingly feature rich and very easy to use.  Audacity allows you to record live audio, record audio from the Internet, edit the most popular audio formats (MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV or AIFF), and cut, copy, and splice sounds together.  It even has a feature that will allow you to change the speed and pitch of an audio file!

I use Audacity quite frequently to edit my sermons (taking out long stretches of silence, editing out coughs & sneezes, etc.) as well as changing the pitch on accompaniment tracks.  I’ve even used it to record and edit ads that my church put on a local radio station and was able to easily mix voice, sound effects, and background music.  If you’ve ever had the need to edit audio you will not regret giving Audacity a try!  Audacity is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

You can downloads Audacity by clicking here.  Please note that there are two different links for Windows – one for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and another for Windows Vista/Windows 7.  the Windows Vista/Windows 7 version is still in Beta, but I’ve used it extensively and have had no issues at all.

Disclosure: Neither the Rural Ministry Blog or Harry Colegrove benefit in any way from this product recommendation

Rural Resource – Simon Sinek: Start With Why

January 23, 2012

After a long hiatus the Rural Ministry Blog is back!

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is a video that I recently discovered on TED.  In the video, speaker Simon Sinek draws a very interesting conclusion: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Although this video is directed at the corporate world I think the parallels to the world of Rural Ministry are very obvious.

Here’s the link to the video:

Simon Sinek: Start With Why

When I first asked myself the question of why my church does what it does the obvious answer was, of course, to fulfill the great commission.  This should be the primary reason any church exists.  Even though that’s the ultimate goal and primary purpose, I’m not sure that telling people “we’re here to save your soul” is the most effective way of getting them interested in the things of God. I think we need to also communicate other reasons for why we do what we do.  Do we have a passion for our communities?  Do we have a burning desire to provide for the poor?  Do we get excited about building healthy families?  Whatever these other reasons are, we need to find ways to effectively communicate them to our communities.

What was your initial reaction to the video? How can we relate the ideas presented by Simon to our ministries?  Why does your church do what it does?  Leave a comment below.

Rural Resource – Marriage part 2

June 13, 2011

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, or any other type resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today I want to continue last weeks topic of marriage resources.  In fact, today’s resource is, in my opinion, one of the greatest tools a pastor could have in his arsenal of marriage counseling resources – the Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD series by Pastor Mark Gungor.  I can honestly say that this DVD series changed the way that I approached marriage counseling and increased my effectiveness tremendously.

Pastor Gungor very humorously and effectively deals with some of marriages biggest issues and goes into great detail on the differences in how men’s brains and women’s brains are wired.  He also does a fantastic job dealing with topics like communication & sex, all in a very humorous and entertaining fashion.  I could go on and on touting the benefits of this DVD series but I think the best way for you to find out how great it is would be to watch a clip that I found on YouTube about the whole “Men’s Brains/Women’s Brains” issue.

 

The Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD costs $59.99 and in my opinion is worth every penny.  You can purchase it by clicking here (uncompensated link)

There are other marriage resources by Pastor mark Gungor that I will be writing about in the future.  If you are aware of any resources, marriage or otherwise, that would be of interest to the Rural Ministry Blog community please let me know!

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

Freebie Friday – Video Conversion Software

June 10, 2011

A huge obstacle that is often faced in rural ministry is the lack of funds to buy tools and resources.  To help combat this problem the Rural Ministry Blog has Freebie Friday!  Every Friday we will take a look at a free resource that could benefit anyone involved with rural ministry.

In last week’s Freebie Friday post I talked about how you can download free video clips from the Vimeo website.  Unfortunately, many of these clips are in formats that do not work real well with PowerPoint – i.e. mp4, FLV, Quicktime, etc.  To combat this problem I use a free video conversion tool called Any Video Converter.

Any Video Converter, like its name implies, will allow you to convert virtually any video clip to another video format.  It also contains some basic editing tools, which I have not used.  The user interface is very simple and the program works pretty quickly.  I would highly recommend it for any of your video conversion needs

You can download Any Video Converter for free by clicking here.

Disclosure: Neither the Rural Ministry Blog or Harry Colegrove benefit in any way from this product review

Rural Resource – Too Busy to matter

May 30, 2011

I do an extensive amount of reading and often come across very interesting books, articles, blog posts, etc.  Each Monday I will be posting a book review or article link that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s article comes from the Leadership Freak blog written by Dan Rockwell.  Dan is a pastor, blogger, and leadership expert that I’ve had the privilege of knowing for about 13 years.  Dan’s blog is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a better leader.  It’s written primarily to the business world, however virtually everything Dan writes about applies very well to the church world as well.

There are numerous articles on Leadership Freak that could be featured here, but the article I’ve chosen today is one that I think especially relates to the Rural Ministry community.  In this article, entitled Too Busy to Matter, Dan states, “If you don’t intentionally take things out of your life, life will do it for you. Sadly, the things that fall out are frequently the things that matter most.”

To read the full article, entitled Too Busy to Matter please click here.

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones