5 Ways to Recover from Pastoral Burnout

By Raul Rivera

Leading a ministry is hard. Leading a ministry through a global pandemic is even harder. As a pastor, God has equipped you with the strength and stamina to lead others towards Him, but there are times when your cup feels completely empty.

During those seasons of burnout, it can feel like nothing will help to get you back on track and feeling full enough to lead from a place of abundance.

But just as God equips you with strength and stamina to lead, He also provides you with resources, disciplines, and Himself to fill your cup when burnout strikes.

You are not the only pastor that experiences ministry burnout.

This year has been challenging for everyone, especially those who are serving. Whether you are a pastor or on the front lines of the pandemic, continually pouring out will begin to take its toll on you if you are not being refilled. Every day that passes can seem harder to gather the necessary motivation to keep yourself from feeling burned out.

Whether it is your fifth month or 50th year in ministry, the pastoral call can leave you feeling as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Maybe you have compared yourself to other pastors and thought, “They have it all together. Why do I seem to be struggling so much?” Or, perhaps you have wondered to yourself, “Does anyone else feel as worn out as I do?”

Know that you are not alone. You are not the only pastor who has experienced the depth and intensity of pastoral burnout.

The pastoral burnout epidemic

Being a pastor is not for the faint of heart. Pastors are often expected to fulfill multiple roles. Most of the time, you are the pastor. However, at other times, you are also the church administrator, janitor, bookkeeper, handyman, groundskeeper, and person to do anything else needed to be done at the church.

These are only your responsibilities within the church and do not include those you have outside the church. However, you have been called by the Creator of the universe for such a time as this.

Sadly, it has become all too easy to overwork ourselves. This can result in the neglect of our families, friends, downtime, and most importantly, a personal relationship with Christ. Yet, with all of the day’s responsibilities, who has time for anything else?

Although you are called to work as unto the Lord, it is important to remember that you are also called to rest unto Him.

5 ways to recover from pastoral burnout

Undoubtedly, our restful downtime will likely get pushed to the last line on our “to-do” list. However, there are a few relaxing activities that can significantly prevent pastoral burnout when done regularly and intentionally.

Here are some examples of these restful activities:

1. Make time for yourself

This tip may seem like a “no-brainer.” Usually, the no-brainer ideas get pushed to the side, but they can make the most impact. Making time for yourself can look like a number of things, and it can be as often as you feel necessary.

Set aside time once a week, whether it is just a few hours or a whole day for yourself. During this time, you can do any number of things that bring you joy and rest. Maybe you catch the latest movie, read a good book, attend a sporting event, or do something else that you would find relaxing.

Most importantly, make sure that at some point, you spend time with the Lord. As a pastor, you spend much of your time pouring into others. As a result, it is all the more important that you take time to allow the Lord to pour into you.

2. Create quality time with your spouse

Sometimes it feels impossible to talk to your spouse about anything other than what has been bothering you, a problem that needs to be solved with the kids, or the stress from the office. However, creating the time to play a card game, make dinner together, and catch up on the little things in life that get lost are great ways to rest and feel connected with your spouse.

I truly think that having a healthy marriage is one of the keys to having a strong and thriving ministry.

3. Build up a team of individuals to protect your blindside

Most, if not all, pastors enter the ministry with passion and zeal to reach the lost and to see lives transformed for eternity. The majority of pastors receive some training (whether formally or informally) to prepare them for ministry. However, these ministers quickly realize that out of all the training they received, the areas in which they feel completely unprepared are church compliance and administration.

For many ministers, church compliance and administration are the root cause of many sleepless nights. You may agree that they are the “blindside” of ministry with which you need help. Whether it be with bylaws, pastoral compensation, bookkeeping, or obtaining 501(c)(3) status, you could use the extra help. We would love to be a part of your team and ease your concerns regarding church compliance and administration. Give us a call at 877-494-4655 today. It would be our honor to serve you!


4. Exercise regularly

I don’t know about you, but ever since quarantine started, I know so many people who have incorporated daily walks into their life. You don’t have to run a marathon to improve your mental health, but getting your body moving in some form or fashion will greatly impact your stress levels in a positive way. For instance, a recent study conducted by Stanford University showed that “a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.”

Activating the creative side of your brain allows your logic and reasoning to take a breather. Taking one hour out of your week to go on a walk or run can balance both parts of the brain. When you have been in a constant state of problem-solving, a little exercise goes a long way.

5. Take time to have fun with family and close friends

Of course, you probably see your family every night of the week and your friends maybe once a month, but how many of those times were genuinely fun and filled with lasting memories? It is essential to respect the rejuvenating qualities that our friends and family bring to our lives. Create time in your schedule to be with the people who really know you; you will not regret it! Knowing your finances are in order will allow you to fully enjoy this time and reap the benefits of the rest associated with quality time with those you love.


The goal of restfulness: to expose and to recharge

John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Burnout will not stop God’s plan from your life from moving forward, but He needs you to also take care of yourself for Him to fully work.

Being in a leadership position makes it easier to bottle everything inside. You know so many others look to you for strength and guidance, but you can’t take people to a place you haven’t been. Yes, God wants you to lead, but resting and recharging will not only reinvigorate your heart for ministry. Resting and recharging will bring a sense of peace and confidence when you lean into it. Resting takes you back to the core of who you are and why you do what you do. In those quiet moments, burnout is healed, and you will reconnect with who God has made you to be. 

At StartCHURCH, we desire to remove the burden that we know many of you feel on a daily basis. We encourage you to explore the services that we offer to remove extra stress from your life so you can focus on the heart behind what it is that God has called you to do. To learn how we can serve you and your ministry, give us a call today at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to schedule a call!


And receive Book 1 of our Grow Trilogy FREE today! This series gives you the strategies you need to get started growing your church plant today!