The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

Pastoral Pandemic Burnout in 2024? Yes, It's a Thing.

February 13, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 27
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
Pastoral Pandemic Burnout in 2024? Yes, It's a Thing.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever considered the weight our spiritual leaders carry, especially during times of crisis? Today, we're uncovering the hidden struggles of pastoral burnout that have intensified under the shadow of the pandemic. Shocking statistics reveal that an overwhelming number of pastors are grappling with the immense pressures of their role, with many entertaining the thought of stepping away from the pulpit. Together, we navigate the complex web of challenges they face, from the fears stoked by COVID-19 and the chasms widened by political conflict, to the pangs of social isolation and financial instability. This episode isn't just an exploration; it's a call to action for communities to rally in support of their shepherds.

As your host, I share not only the alarming realities but also the silver lining of enduring faith and hope. We emphasize the critical need for divine guidance and the power of a united community to uplift those who guide us spiritually. With candid discussions on mental health, the toll on pastors' families, and the transformative journey of church life post-pandemic, we offer a message of resilience. Though the landscape of ministry has been irrevocably altered, we witness an emerging story of renewal and support for our beloved church leaders. Join us for an episode that extends beyond mere conversation, fostering a network of care and encouragement for those at the helm of our spiritual voyages.

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Speaker 1:

Let's face it, burnout was bad before 2020, but the pandemic put pastors a lot of pastors over the edge, and now we've got some research that shows that it's only gotten worse. That's an exciting way to start up a program, isn't it? Oh, my goodness, pastoral pandemic burnout in 2024. Yes, it's a thing, and we're going to talk about it here today on the Healthy Church Staff Podcast. My name is Todd Rhodes, I'm one of the co-founders over at chemistrystaffingcom and I want to look at some stats that just came out. 87% of pastors said the pandemic made their job harder. I'm surprised it's that low. I've not talked to anybody literally that has not been challenged over the past, almost coming up on four years, believe it or not, I think everybody just about 87%, I guess is a good majority, but the pandemic made our job harder and I think for many, many, it continues to be harder.

Speaker 1:

The church is just a different beast after what we've gone through in the past four years. 72% said that they are considering quitting or have considered quitting in the past four years, and a lot of this has to do with just plain old burnout feeling exhausted, lacking motivation, feeling maybe even kind of cynical about your work. It's not just having a bad day, but it's an extended period of extreme stress. Pastoral burnout is more than fatigue. It can really cause you to lose sight of your calling, and I've had a front row seat over the past three years, going on four, in working with churches, as I do as one of the co-founders at chemistrystaffing. We're constantly talking to churches that are looking to hire. We're constantly talking to church staff, people that are in transition or are looking at a new role. And here's the way I put it, and I don't know if it's helpful or not, but hopefully it will be, or else why? Listen right? This is the way I've kind of communicated it. I've not met any pastor over the past few years that has not just said you know, I'm tired. Everybody, everybody's been tired. But I like to say that not everybody's just tired. Some people are more than tired and they get burned out, a little bit burned out. Okay, burned out is a little bit more severe than tired, but when they get burned out, a lot of times if they're not careful, not only are they burned out but they're angry. And then, if they're angry, it just gets worse to. They become resentful, and it's a quick slope to get from tired to resentful. It's a really quick path. You get tired, you get exhausted, you burn out, you're angry, you get resentful, and there are a lot of reasons.

Speaker 1:

Covid and the pandemic was just a perfect storm. I mean there's all the COVID fears. I mean we had never lived through anything like this in our history, in our lives. There was political division, oh my goodness, political division. Look at the social isolation and the social division that's happened. There's been financial strain. There's been. If you're a pastor that counsels a lot, you probably had a lot more of a counseling overload Just being pulled in every which way.

Speaker 1:

We like to say a lot of times that some pastors in churches, just for a period of a couple of years during that pandemic period, could not do anything right. I mean, do we wear masks? Do we not wear masks? Do we meet in person? Do we not meet in person? Everything was up for criticism and add to that just a lack of control and a lack of community, a lack of fairness and just the dividing, mismatch of values in our culture. And so that was some of the causes, but some of the effects that I've seen in pastors over and over again.

Speaker 1:

I mean depression, anxiety, just that emotional exhaustion, the detachment from people that comes as a result of that. And then when you get tired and you've just been going for so long and so hard, eventually you have to kind of pay the piper. There's reduced productivity and if you're not careful, your family suffers and you get to the point where you just dread going to work every day and the long-term impacts. The pastors who don't resign a lot of times end up getting bitter and cynical and hopeless and congregations lose trust. It's really a spiral. And yes, todd, we should be over this. It's been three years. We should be over this, yeah, but we're not. We're not and we get it. It's been a hard, hard period.

Speaker 1:

So what can we do? Churches? What can churches do for staff people? What can your board do for you pastor? And I know it's hard to ask for these things, but if you're in a position where you can offer some of these things, it makes a huge difference, what I'm going to call some radical care for pastors.

Speaker 1:

Pastors need some time away. Maybe it's an official sabbatical, maybe it's a couple of days off, maybe it's providing some counseling or some opportunities to network with some other peer groups. But come on, now we've got to stop with all these Superman expectations of our pastors and everybody on our staff. You can do it for a short period of time, and good for you when you're able to do it for a short period of time. But you will hit a wall and you will bounce off of it hard if you try to be Superman for an extended period of time.

Speaker 1:

So what can you do? You know, todd, it's like you've been reading my email because it seems like I should be over this, but I'm not. I'm just. I'm just. I'm still tired and I'm still worn out. What can I do? Let me, let me offer a little bit of encouragement and a little bit of advice. Maybe, maybe just some simple changes. You can't change everything, you can't change everything overnight, but maybe some simple changes in your routine and your mind mindset can really be a powerful tool to help you get out of this burnout that you might be feeling.

Speaker 1:

Set some boundaries, don't be afraid to accept some help, take some time off, prioritize some self care, make sure that you're healthy, learn to say no. You can't say yes to everything and everybody. Take some time to reconnect with some of your peers and really try and find some meaning against all this adversity and this hard time. Let's just be honest here. Are you using your vacation? I know a lot of pastors that have vacation and don't use it. I know some other pastors that take more vacation than what they get. But I mean, you're not saving anybody if you're leaving 20 days of PTO in your PTO bank. Don't try and be a hero. Use your vacation and take that time off. Take a Sabbath every week. God kind of prescribed that.

Speaker 1:

As for healthy living, so pick a day and just disconnect and make sure during this time, a lot of times when we're stressed, the first thing that kind of falters is our family and our relationship with our spouses and our kids. Make sure that you really invest in that. We can really build deeper community through this crisis. We did see that happen some during the beginning of the pandemic. Suffering a lot of times produces that perseverance and character that we need, and it's just really burdensome to me because I've seen a lot of people that are just really, really hurting.

Speaker 1:

Preventing burnout Think of it as an act of stewardship. Your well-being enables you to serve others and, honestly, if you're not at your best, you're not leading well and your church is going to suffer as well. Your witness really depends on a healthy and hopeful outlook, and it really has to start today. You really, if you're burned out, if you're just in that COVID funk and you're trying to figure out, do I really want to do this anymore? Man, you can either lean in or you can kind of sit back, and if you sit back, it's not going to get any better.

Speaker 1:

Lean in, find out exactly what God wants you to do, get some help, talk to some peers, email me. If you need somebody to talk to, I'd be happy to talk with you. You can email me anytime at podcast at chemistry staffing. That's podcast at chemistry staffing. If you're resonating with this and just want to give a word of encouragement to me, I would appreciate that too. So I hope this has been helpful, but if anything, just know, hey, we are still seeing in individuals and in churches. We are still seeing the aftermath of what has happened in the past three and four years, and it's going to continue. It's changed a lot of things and it will continue to change your church. It will continue to change you. Be encouraged today, though, my friend, I'm Todd, and this is the Healthy Church Staff Podcast. Hope you'll join us again tomorrow. Until then, have a great day.

Pastoral Burnout in the Pandemic
Finding God's Direction and Support