...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fixing People Leads to Burnout

Reasons for burnout are varied. Here are some I have observed.

1. Poor boundaries; pleasing others. I heard a great question today in a supervisory group for interns. What, if anything, truly offends you? Become more aware of yourself. Most pastors want to be so liked that they don't think any behavior will offend them. But even Jesus got ticked in a righteous sort of way. Denial of who we are only leads to bad self care.

2. Poor time management. Wasting time only leads to more stress in dealing with deadlines. Because crisis situations requiring our quality presence happen at any time, maintaining and honoring a schedule is a time stewardship issue. We have to manage what is in our power to control. Time is a gift.

3. Comparison thinking, ingratitude. Alot of times, we may feel that we don't fit the needs of the setting. We are unfair to ourselves and others when we engage in comparison thinking. It drains on our energy, keeping us from enjoying and using the gifts we do have.

4. Unprocessed grief- in ourselves and congregations. Think of the volume of grief we encounter. It's incredible. If we don't take time to grieve our losses, personal and congregational, the symptoms will appear down the line. We will eventually pay the cost of not attending to this most powerful human emotion.

5. Lack of peer support. They never told us within the hallowed halls of Duke Divinity School that we cannot make it alone in ministry. If they did, I didn't hear it. Nouwen's book, The Wounded Healer shattered the idea that our lives are somehow untouched by pain and suffering of others. We need others with whom we can be vulnerable.


1 comment:

  1. Great list. I would add one more:

    Assuming the congregation shares the same vision and level of commitment.


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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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