I was watching the Alice in Wonderland last night and I felt a connection with her bewilderment in the wonderland and my whole burnout deal I have gone through. I felt like I accidently fell into a rabbit hole and was wondering how I got down here in this burning hole. The good news is I found God there, and not the Mad Hatter.
So, how did I get here? One day in September it seemed like all the emotions and tensions hit a breaking point, and I felt like I just couldn’t handle it anymore. That day I stopped by and had a long talk with Don. He was great and an incredible listening ear for me. I’m so glad God had him available at that moment.
Looking back though I realize that this didn’t come about all at once. It had been building for quite awhile. What’s interesting is in a lot of the literature I’ve read on the subject is they find one of the burnout causes is a lack of spiritual disciplines. I’ve been doing that pretty well. I study my Bible and pray daily. I will go and have a day of prayer for our church. I never felt distant from God.
So what caused it? How did I end up here? I believe I had been operating under false paradigm of ministry for many years. Unfortunately the nature of ministry leads to this paradigm feeling like it’s true. Early on I perceived that as a minister people in the church are not really concerned about the minister as a person. They are concerned for the minister and his role in their life. So, as a people caregiver, I would merely direct the conversations about themselves. A great conversationalist gets people to talk about themselves right? Now, I know I can talk a lot (every minister can), but most of the time that’s just telling a story. It’s not sharing about my wants or concerns on a personal level. I believed there is no need to share them anyway.
This is a tough role to figure out as a minister because you can share too much and then people are turned off from you. On the other hand, a minister is a person and he needs God’s body to minister to him too. In fact, I have shared in the past at other churches a time or two about struggles I have dealt with. The result was a friendship that became estranged and the other was just met with silence.
I have come to believe one reason I fell into burnout is I operated with this false belief system concerning the ministry. Because I am a minister I cannot depend on people in the church to care for me. God said “No more of the myth!” There is something inherently wrong with that idea!
So now I need a new paradigm to operate in, and I don’t have one yet, except to say, I’m going to let the Holy Spirit lead me. I plan on being the kite and Him being the wind.