Epidemic: Another Pastor Burned Out and Quit Last Sunday


Read this a few years ago.  Great article about the weight that pastors carry.   Good words by Karl Vaters posted in Christianity Today.


The pain of one pastor is intensified under the unforgiving glare of the spotlight, while the pain of another is ignored. Both hurt equally.  by Karl Vaters

It never gets easier. No matter how many times you hear about it.

And we’re hearing about it a lot more lately. In epidemic numbers.

Another pastor announced to his stunned congregation that he couldn’t do it anymore. He loved them. He was proud of the kingdom work they’d done together for years. But he’d gotten his priorities out of whack. He’d put all his time and energy into the church and had neglected his own spiritual and emotional health.

He asked the congregation to pray for him and his family as they faced the next difficult phase of their lives – not knowing what that phase would bring.

Then this pastor gathered the congregation of 20 people to the front of the church to pray together one last time. Him for them. Them for him and his family. They prayed, hugged, cried and said goodbye.

As I write this blog post, that pastor is packing up the family’s belongings in a rental van to move from the small town they’ve called home for more than a decade. For now, they’ll live with his wife’s parents to recoup and recover.

Too Many Burned Out Pastors

Unfortunately, that pastor wasn’t the only one to have such a story last Sunday. Hundreds did. This year, thousands wil leave the ministry, burned out and hurting. From big and small churches, growing and stagnant ones.

This year, thousands will leave the ministry, burned out and hurting. From big and small churches, growing and stagnant ones.

We hear about the famous pastors when they step down or burn out. That’s the price of fame. And it’s a steep one. Both your successes and your failures are amplified.

But a different price is paid by those who aren’t known to anyone outside their family and small congregation. While the successes and pains of well-known pastors are spotlighted, the successes and pains of the small church pastors are ignored and forgotten.

Both hurt equally. Both bear the burden of the problems that caused them to leave the church, and often the ministry. The pain of the megachurch pastor is intensified by failing under the unforgiving glare of the spotlight, while the pain of the other is amplified by failing in anonymity. Forgotten by almost everyone.

Both scenarios are toxic. They break the heart of Jesus, they damage his church, they devastate pastors’ families, they ruin ministries and they make it harder for church members to trust a pastor again – or to trust God again.

Change the Church Success Paradigm

It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way.

We have to let go of the unbiblical expectations that have been placed on pastors’ shoulders. That we’ve placed on our own shoulders.

Pastors were never meant to carry this big a burden. No one person is capable of being the preacher, teacher, vision-caster, CEO, leader, evangelist, soul-winner, fundraiser, marriage counselor, and all-around paragon of virtue that we expect pastors to pull off – many of them while working a full-time job outside the church walls.

But it’s been done this way for so many years, it sometimes feels like a runaway train that can’t be stopped.

It must be stopped.

Redefining Success In Ministry

No one can stop this runaway train but us, pastors.

We have to say no.

For some of us, that means saying no to the unreasonable expectations of our church members, deacon boards and denominational officials. But for all of us it means saying no to our own unbiblical expectations of ourselves. Saying no to a paradigm that we have built and perpetuated around a combination of our own egos and insecurities.

We are not the builders of the church, Jesus is.

We are not capable of working ourselves to the bone emotionally and spiritually without something breaking inside us.

We are not capable of working ourselves to the bone emotionally and spiritually without something breaking inside us.

We can’t keep pushing ourselves physically with too little sleep, too much food and too little exercise.

We can’t keep neglecting our spouses and families while we burn the ministry candle at both ends and not expect that everyone – our families, our churches and ourselves – will pay an enormous price for it.

We have to redefine what success in ministry looks like. Because too many good people are being hurt as we pursue our current, unsupportable version of success.

Pray for Each Other

Today, let’s pause. Take a breath. And pray.

Pray for the hurting pastors, known and unknown, who have left a church they loved – and maybe still love.

Pray for the famous pastors suffering under the unbearable glare of the spotlight.

Pray for the unknown pastors feeling lost and forgotten.

Pray for their families who have borne years of pain silently, and who are bearing even more right now.

Pray for the church members who don’t know whether to feel angry, sad or something else.

Pray that the God who promised that his yoke was easy and his burden light, will ease the much heavier burdens we have placed on our own shoulders. And replace it with his peace, his comfort and his hope.



Such a good read. I have taken a lot of risk this year and these words have been impactful. So, I am reposting this article By Carey Nieuwhof. You can read this on his website and learn more about his training for leaders. Hope you enjoy. https://careynieuwhof.com/7-easy-risks-every-leader-should-take-today/. Thanks Scott


The problem with many leaders is that there is a gap between what they want to see happen and the courage it takes to get there.

You dream of a radical new future, but then you answer email all day, go to meetings, inhale caffeine and go home before it’s too late with far too much of whatever-you-did-today (what did I do again today?) leftover for a boring repeat tomorrow.

And if you drill down a little further, you’ll often find that what lurks under the tedium of every day is…fear. It’s just easier to answer email and be in meetings all day instead of making the bold moves you know you need to make to secure a better future.

To put it as eloquently as possible, that pattern stinks.

To accomplish a radically new future, you will have to do radically different things.

This scares the socks off of most of us. After all, risk is for risk-takers, and many of us are not crazy risk-takers.

So the question becomes when you realize fear is holding your back, how do you act? How do you push past your fear?

Well, start with small steps.

Small victories over fear quickly become larger ones because like any good muscle, the more you practice overcoming your fears, the more fear you overcome.


Another way to get motivated to grow bolder in your leadership is to consider the alternative, which is, well, not good at all.

It’s simple. If you fail to take risks in your leadership:

Your organization will experience few breakthroughs and likely continue down a path to decline and irrelevance.

You will leave leadership without any sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.

Here’s what’s worse. From a distance, it’s hard to tell the difference between a fearful leader and a lazy leader. Why? Well, while the motivation is different, the outcome is often indistinguishable.

I believe risk-taking is both a habit and a mindset. Take a few steps toward tackling small challenges, and soon you’ll be up for the bigger ones.

At the same time, if you’re a natural risk-taker, you may feel an urge the older you get to rest on your laurels. Don’t.

Even taking risks like the ones below will prime the pump for future change and transformation, which, by the way, is always in season.

After all, the next generation doesn’t care what you did yesterday.


So, if you want to flex your risk-muscle for the first time or the 1000th time, here are 7 things you can do today to get started:


This can be truly awesome. Tackling things you know how to do is a sure path to stagnation and eventual boredom.

What’s that project at work that scares the life out of you? Start it. Today. And see where it goes. You will figure it out. You will.

Most people who make a dent in the universe had no idea what they were doing when they started.

Why would it be any different with you?


We all have things we’ve been thinking of doing for years that might be doable. But we haven’t started yet.

Just do it. Seriously.

Make the call. Send the text. Clean out that drawer. Write page one of the book you’re terrified to start.

True leaders have a bias for great action, not just great thinking.


Yes, generosity is a risk. Being financially generous when you don’t feel like you have the funds to be generous is a risk.

Being generous with praise when you don’t feel like praising someone is a risk.

In a world where there are a thousand reasons to be stingy, generosity is a risk.

But generosity is the key to developing an abundance mentality. And people with an abundance mentality often end up taking more risks.

So start by thanking someone who deserves some thanks even if you don’t feel like giving it. Or give some money away. You may surprise yourself at what you get back.


The reason you won’t set a daring goal is because you think it’s impossible. Which is exactly why you should set it.

It can be small. When I began seriously and consistently blogging 7 years ago, I set a crazy traffic goal of reaching 100,000 page views a year. I thought it would be impossible. But that goal motivated me to write three times a week, week in and week out.

I had no idea that in my first year full year of dedicated blogging, I would realize 7x that goal…reaching over 700,000 page views. That was in 2013.

Three years later, this blog sees over 6 million page views a year.

If someone had told me that when I started, I would have laughed. The thought still astonishes and humbles me.

But here’s some truth for you: People who set goals accomplish more than people who don’t.


Yes, vulnerability is also a risk.

Bring a close friend in on a struggle you haven’t talked to anyone about yet.

Get over your fear of telling your team you don’t know the answer (I promise you they already know).

Being vulnerable sets you up for accepting the failure that inevitably accompanies risk…that failure you’re so scared of.

Being vulnerable today will prepare you for a bit of failure tomorrow on your way to greater accomplishments.


It’s a risk to trust others with something you care about, isn’t it? Which is why you need to do it.

Pick an opportunity you were personally going to do and invite someone else to do it. This will not only help you be more generous with your leadership but this will also position you to create a stronger team moving forward.

As the saying goes when it comes to accomplishment if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go with a team.


When you’re afraid, you think about quitting, don’t you?

So take it off the table. Just decide you’re in for the long haul and get moving.

It’s riskier to stay and try than it is to quit and leave.

By Carey Nieuwhof.