Stress and Burnout: Why ‘Leadership Renewal’ is Necessary for Pastors, Church Leaders

By   •   September 29, 2016   •   Topics: ,

How many sick days does a pastor get? What about vacation time?

Think hard about the answer and you’ll likely draw a blank. The fact is—most pastors and ministry leaders don’t take much time off. The “benefits package” most working people receive with allotted time off simply isn’t a luxury of numerous pastors around the country.

But, why? The calling is great and not to be taken lightly, yet at their core—pastors are no different than the people they preach to.

Pastors get tired and weary. They get angry and frustrated. They get burned out and—probably more than one would think—pastors and church leaders want to relax and set aside the demands of ministry, if only for a moment. Help strengthen a pastor today.

There’s an unspoken truth about pastors and that is: many of them don’t get the retreat and restoration needed to successfully carry on in ministry.

Recent statistics show that some 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month. About half of them feel unable to meet the demands of ministry, 70 percent of them say they don’t have close friends in whom they can confide in, and 80 percent say ministry negatively affects their family.

That’s most likely not the record God intended ministry workers to have. He calls all Christians to a life of both servanthood and sacrifice, however, God’s Word also talks about the importance of rest and finding solitude in Christ.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
—Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

That’s what makes Pastor Appreciation Month so important. Each October, churches around the nation take the time to show love and gratitude towards their leaders. The effort dates back to 1994 as a way to remind congregations that honoring their pastor, pastoral family and pastoral staff is biblical (1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

Yet, knowing the unique trials pastors are up against—a fruit basket and gift certificate seem inadequate to fight deep issues many of them are facing.

“In the ministry, we tend to feel isolated and alone and fighting with no one to hold up our arms,” said Frank Paulicastrov, a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, resident who attended a Leadership Renewal Retreat this year at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.

The Cove started the Leadership Renewal Project to help pastors and church leaders combat fatigue and burnout. Donations to the program allow them and their spouse to attend retreats at the Asheville, North Carolina, center for free.

After meeting three other couples during his visit at The Cove, Frank felt a reconnection he’d been missing.

“[It’s] almost as if it was handpicked that we would meet those specific three couples to have our meals together with,“ Frank recalled. “It has been a tremendous blessing and inspiration of how God just wanted to let us know we are not alone.

“There are others doing the same things, going through the same things, and we are all together in it.”

The Cove offers several opportunities to strengthen leaders—Pastors’ Institutes, Bible seminars and Intensive Bible Training—all of which are covered under the renewal project.

Not only is the opportunity to retreat well received—the idea of being able to get away without worrying about how to pay for it can give unexpected relief.

“Being a pastor’s family can be lonely and rough sometimes,” Cove visitor, Michele Thomas, wrote in a note. “Thank you for providing a refuge for us to come be loved on and spoiled. Often expenses get in the way. Thank you for providing funds for us to ‘get away.'”

Whether it’s at a Leadership Renewal Retreat at The Cove or giving your pastor a chance to unplug and rejuvenate—this Pastor Appreciation Month keep the quiet battles your church leaders may be fighting in mind, and vow to do something to give them the necessary retreat and restoration we all need in Christ.

Give the gift of encouragement and renewal. When you make a donation to the Leadership Renewal Project this Pastor Appreciation Month, we’ll send you an invitation you can personally deliver to your pastor for a leadership renewal retreat at The Cove.