Questions from a bi-vocational pastor about pastoral burnout

After yet another conversation with mostly full-time pastors talking about pastoral burnout I have a few nagging questions. Since I’m bi-vocational and interact with people in some pretty stressful non-ministry jobs, it made me wonder…

Why is burnout so often spoken about in pastoral ministry but not in other professions? A lot more pastors seem to “burn out” from ministry, but I’m not sure I understand why this is the case.

In the discussion both Sabbath-rests and days off were discussed as distinct days. What’s the distinction? Do you need to take both? Do we expect the people in our churches to do both?

Which leads to burnout more quickly, more working hours or higher demands and emotional stress? From my experience in bi-vocational ministry, I work more hours but have less struggle with the burnout I hear about from those in full-time ministry.

Does the frequency of talk of pastor-burnout belittle the equally stressful work of the people in our congregation? Are we as pastors as concerned about overwork from our people as we are for ourselves?

I don’t want to minimize pastoral burnout. I’m just trying to understand why it seems to be such a pastor-centric issue. Or, maybe, I’m questioning whether it is or not. I’m open to being enlightened.

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3 thoughts on “Questions from a bi-vocational pastor about pastoral burnout

  1. joseph elon lillie

    I think the issue with pastoring goes way beyond the hours. It is about life in the “fish bowl” and never being able to turn it off. It’s about having every social contact you have being pastor/parishioners and not having a safe place where you can be something other than a “man of the cloth”.

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