Ministry Burnout: Overcoming Obstacles, Setbacks, and Adversities

By M. Mooney, ministry practitioner

Losing Sight of Ministry 

It is not uncommon to find yourself in the routines of
ministry; suddenly feeling as though you are losing sight of things. 
This may occur for a multitude of reasons.  Maybe you have been spending too much time in
board meetings, putting out the fires of church politics, or even dealing with
spiritual attacks on your family.  These
necessary duties of ministry can begin to toll on your emotions, causing your
insights to seem dull and not very inspirational.  Under these conditions, it is just a matter
of time before you begin questioning whether you are in God’s will for your
Can You Relate?

Ministry Burnout: Overcoming Obstacles, Setbacks, and Adversities
Does any of this sound familiar?  Of course it does.  The reality is that ministry is not full of
roses and celebrations over spiritual victories.  To believe so is naive and far removed from
The Bible says that Jesus was a man well acquainted with
many sorrows (Isaiah 53:3).  Further, he
was rejected by his peers (Luke 4:24); ridiculed for his age (John 8:57); laughed
(Luke 8:52, 53); mocked (Luke 23:11); called crazy, accused of having a demon
(John 10:20); and held back by those who did not believe in him (Mark 6:5, 6).  Nevertheless, despite the people’s unbelief,
he did not stop believing in them.
To think that our experiences in ministry will not also
share in these sorrows is an inaccurate perspective of the love of Christ.
  If you are anything like me, at times you are
guilty of such fanciful thinking and feel stupid upon realizing it.  Don’t! 
It is common for all of us to wish things to be easier than they are,
and to underestimate the difficulty involved in tasks.  Further, as humans we do not naturally seek to
discover errors in our thinking, and somehow we entertain unrealistic ideals of
perfect sets of circumstances where everything goes as planned.  Our experiences demonstrate otherwise, and
often we are the very objects of mistakes; thereby becoming obstacles to our
own goals.  Yet we should be encouraged
because our Father remembers our frames, and that we come from dust (Psalm
103:14).  His grace for us is incalculable,
and His mercies a new every morning (Lam 3:22, 23).
Running, Fighting, and Striving 

Ministry Burnout: Overcoming Obstacles, Setbacks, and Adversities
In a pastoral epistle, Paul speaks of ministry as running a
race and fighting a good fight
(2 Timothy 4:7). 
The key to any success in running a race is endurance.  It requires constant commitment to focusing
on the vision of crossing the finish line. 
Careful pacing, timed breathing, and pushing forward are imperative
practices to reaching the goal.  The same
is true of fighting a good fight.  The
warrior must anticipate attack, stand his ground and maintain a relentless
commitment to not surrendering to the blows of the enemy!
Jesus describes this path as a narrow striving toward a destination
while many fall by the wayside (Luke 13:24). 
His use of the word strive describes the act of contending for a prize.  Paul carries this theme describing ministry
as a goal which requires “striving” together in prayer and for mastery
(Romans 15:30; 2 Timothy 2:5).  He uses
two Greek words for striving that describe a partnership in struggles, and a contending
in competitive spots.
What Shall We Conclude?
“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ.  So that, my beloved
brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not without fruit in the Lord” (1Co 15:57-58 MKJV).
Ministry Burnout: Overcoming Obstacles, Setbacks, and Adversities
There is coming a day when God’s ministers will attend the
reward ceremony of Heaven.  May we live
today, so that we may say then, “I ran the race through adversity, paced myself
so I did not faint, jumped the hurdles that were intended to make me fall and
finished the race that was before me.  I
strove in labor, sharing the burdens of the Body of Christ.  I carried the torch into a dark world.  I fought the good fight for my soul, my
marriage, my family, and the flock that God gave me. And by the grace of God I
never gave up hope, and by the power of His Spirit, I did not surrender to the

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