Recently FaithSearch Partner’s Senior Vice President and Ministry Division Leader Jeff Jernigan, PhD, LPC, BCPPC, wrote an article discussing the topic of pastor burnout and resiliency. Dr. Jernigan is an ordained pastor and board-certified psychologist, with missionary and church ministry experience, so this topic is near to his heart.
In the article “When More is not Enough,” Dr. Jernigan observes that pastors fall in the group of professionals who have a calling to help and serve others, a 24/7 duty if the need arises, making them a first responder to life’s difficulties, challenges and emergencies, like chaplains, physicians, police and fire personal. All these groups are susceptible to feeling that even with their 24/7 attention and response, their degree of effort is not enough. He goes on to reveal the alarming statistic that these servant-hearted people are experiencing burnout and even dying from self-harm at an alarming rate — twice the average rate in the United States.
This burnout is a spectrum disorder. It is a process, not simply an event, that can end in crisis. Since this condition develops slowly, it can take people by surprise when they notice the pattern, or someone around them notices. To avoid compassion fatigue, Dr. Jernigan recommends a number of steps for pastors, including:
- Get the rest you need.
- Eat nutritious meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Fill your mind with encouraging pursuits outside of work.
- Spend time in conversation with others without an agenda.
- Spend time in personal Bible study,
- Give yourself a mental health check-up periodically.
- Learn to balance stretching experiences with nourishing ones.
For more detailed explanations on these recommendations and to read more of Dr. Jeringan’s analysis, read the entire article here: When More is not Enough.