There is a lot of talk about ministry burnout and there are plenty of statistics (that must always be considered cautiously) indicating the significance of this issue:
- Up to 25% of Australian ministers have taken stress leave or suffered serious burnout.
- 1 in 4 Australian protestant church leaders reported experiencing burnout as an extreme or significant issue. A further 2 in 4 were on the edge of burnout.
- 1 in 3 pastors in the United States is at risk of burnout.
- As many as 50% of clergy in the United States left pastoral work within the first five years.
- For every person who is serving in congregational ministry today in Australia, there is one who has left prematurely.
If you are burned out, fear you might be heading in this direction or want to help those susceptible to ministry burnout, here are 8 books to help.
Burned Out: Trusting God with Your “To Do” List
Instead of giving you organizational tips (and thus more to do!), Winston T. Smith helps you to look at what drives your busyness and points you to the rest and peace that comes from a deeper trust in God.
Burnout in Church Leaders
Based on exclusive research into Australian churches and their leaders, Burnout in Church Leaders reveals:
- who is at risk and why,
- which congregations are dangerous,
- leadership styles that help or hinder, and
- how to pick your way through the burnout minefield and survive.
Driven to Despair: Perfectionism and Ministry
Driven To Despair considers the nature of perfectionism from Psychological and Theological viewpoints, examining functional and dysfunctional aspects of perfectionism, how they are shaped, and how they function in Christian ministry. These complementary viewpoints are used to provide an understanding of perfectionism and how to cope with unhealthy forms of perfectionism in lay and professional ministry.
Resources for healthy leaders
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Going the Distance: How to Stay Fit for a Lifetime of Ministry
Christian ministry is not a sprint; it's a marathon, a long-term race, requiring not just initial enthusiasm and ability, but staying power. Drawing on decades of biblical reflection and experience, Peter Brain explains how to keep fit mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for the long-haul.
On the Brink: Grace for the Burned-Out Pastor
As we learn from Jesus' crucifixion, any decision to deeply and sacrificially love sinners is going to hurt—really hurt. And our own sin makes things even messier. When the pain and frustration and exhaustion of ministry build up in our hearts, it's easy to lose sight of the incredible gifts given to us in Jesus Christ: hope and resurrection power that strengthen us to carry on. Join a fellow pastor in rediscovering the gospel's soul-sustaining and heart-renewing comfort for leaders in church ministry.
Pastors at Greater Risk
Some of today's pastors are relatively untroubled but need help in releasing the pressure inherent in ministry to others. Others are close to running on empty, both spiritually and emotionally. All of them would like someone to confide in who can provide realistic help based on firsthand experience. This is what this book is about. First published in 1993, this edition is completely rewritten, with updated stats, interviews with contemporary pastoral leaders, and a special emphasis on today's hot-button issues, such as job turnover, pornography, spiritual burnout, congregational turnover, and more.
Refuel: How to Balance Work, Life, Faith and Church – Without Burning Out
Christians are not exempt from feeling stressed. In addition to the usual demands of a busy life, many believers also juggle responsibilities within their church and the particular calling of their faith. What do you do if your desire to be ‘all out’ for God seems to end up with you feeling ‘stressed out’? Kate Middleton – psychologist, church leader and director of Christian mental health organisation Mind and Soul – demonstrates that although inevitable, stress need not be a negative factor in your life.
Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture
Drawing on personal experiences—and time spent counseling other men in the midst of burnout—David Murray offers weary men hope for the future, helping them identify the warning signs of burnout and offering practical strategies for developing patterns that are necessary for living a grace-paced life and reaching the finish line with their joy intact.
Zeal Without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice
Thousands of people leave Christian ministry every month. They have not lost their love for Christ, or their desire to serve him. But for one reason or another, they are exhausted and simply cannot carry on.
Christopher Ash knows this experience all too well. As a pastor of a growing church, and then in his role training people for ministry, he has found himself on the edge of burnout a number of times, and has pastored many younger ministers who have reached the end of their tether.
His wisdom has been distilled into this short, accessible book, in which he reveals a neglected biblical truth and seven keys that flow from it. Understood properly, and built into our lives as Christians who are zealous to serve the Lord, they will serve to protect us from burnout, and keep us working for God's kingdom and glory.