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Margie Bryce

Your leadership coach
and self-care advocate

101: Back from Burnout: Rev. Paul Kuzma

The Crabby Pastor
101: Back from Burnout: Rev. Paul Kuzma
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Have you ever found yourself so immersed in the demands of ministry leadership that your own spirit starts to fray at the edges? 

In this episode, we’re joined by the insightful Paul Kuzma, a pastoral counselor who has weathered the storm of burnout himself. Together, our conversation weaves personal narratives and practical wisdom into a tapestry of guidance for any ministry leader seeking harmony between their calling and personal well-being.

Join us as we explore the fullness of life beyond the pulpit – from cultivating friendships outside the congregation to embracing passions that rejuvenate the soul. We’ll tackle the high-stakes stresses of pastoral duties and discuss how to strike that essential balance, setting the stage for a ministry that’s not only vibrant but sustainable in the long run.

Whether you’re a seasoned minister or just beginning to feel the weight of your calling, there’s a message here for you. We’re peeling back the layers on pastoral self-care and uncovering how taking a step back can propel you forward, ensuring that your ministry is a reflection of a well-tended heart and spirit.

Join us for an episode that promises to fortify your ministry and, perhaps, help you steer clear of becoming a Crabby Pastor.Support the show

This is a GUILT-FREE zone! So here’s your friendly nudge about self-care and its importance for the sake of your family, friends, and those you serve in ministry.

Get your FREE Burnout Questionnaire to help you assess whether you are dealing with just general tiredness or something MORE. 
CLICK HERE FOR THE BURNOUT QUESTIONNAIRE.

I love scouring around to find great content to share, and am always interested in feedback, if you are or know of someone willing to share their Back from Burnout story so we can all learn together, then 
CLICK HERE to email me.

And, if this is a reminder you wish to opt out of, that’s fine too.

Blessings on your journey!

Margie

🦀 🦀 🦀

Find regular support on my Facebook group by clicking HERE.

Connect with me about COACHING and Workshops on self-care HERE.

Transcript

Margie: 0:01

Hey there, Margie Bryce here bringing you the Crabby Pastor podcast, and I don’t think you’re going to be too surprised to know that it’s too easy today to become the Crabby Pastor. Our time together will give you food for thought to help you be the ministry leader, fully surrendered to God’s purposes and living into whatever it takes to get you there and keep you there. So we’re talking about sustainability in ministry. So how do the pieces of your life fit together? Do they fit together well and things are humming along just fine, or are there some pieces that are tight or absent or just not fitting the bill? This is your invitation to join me in my glass workshop for a video series, where I am going to do a stained glass project while I talk to you about sustainability and building sustainability into your heart and into your life. So I am going to be doing my art, which is a form of self-care, and I’m going to invite you into that space with me and I’m going to chat. I’m going to chat about self-care and I’m going to show you how I create, and there’s a nifty, nifty analogy. Stained glass seems to be a very good metaphor for what I want to talk about, so I’d love for you to join me to do that, and often I’ll need you to email me at CrabbyPastor at gmail. That’s CrabbyPastor at gmail cot com. So you won’t want to miss this. You definitely won’t want to miss this. So make a plan to join me in the glass workshop.

This is Margie Bryce, again with the Crabby Pastor podcast, because we are wanting fewer and fewer pastors to be Crabby. Even if you’re just Crabby on the inside, that counts too. I’d like to think it doesn’t, but we’re all trained to do the non-anxious presence thing right. So I’m committed to that, and I have with me Paul Kuzma, who is going to share with us a back to burn back from burnout, not back to burnout. That’s a whole different episode, isn’t it?

Paul Kuzma: 2:37

It is, there is.

Margie: 2:39

Yeah, so another back from burnout episode. So, paul, I’m going to ask you to introduce yourself. Tell us what you’re doing right now in ministry.

Paul Kuzma: 2:50

Yeah, Margie, thanks so much for the privilege and the honor of getting to connect with you and your listeners and to get to share some of my story in hopes that it will help a few. So I am a in terms of what I do. I am a four square pastor At my core. I started pastoring way back in 1985, graduated from Bible college in 1987 and ended up in full time vocational ministry out of four square church in CME Valley, California, where I spent eight years on staff as a youth pastor, four years as associate pastor before I became senior pastor of that same church, and in those first 12 years that I was on staff I had worked with the three previous senior pastors. All those transitions were painful. Before I ended up, we’ll get in a little bit more of my burnout story three and a half years after I became senior pastor. What I do today is I serve full time as director and certified pastoral counselor at Center for Spiritual Renewal East, which is a retreat center for four square pastors and their families that’s located in, of all places, Christiansburg, Virginia.

Margie: 4:20

I saw that and I thought well, isn’t that interesting. Was that? Were you there before it was named the town?

Paul Kuzma: 4:27

No, no, Christiansburg was established way back in the if I remember right sometime in the late 1700s. And we’re tucked into the southwest corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia and we’re better known for our next door neighbor, Blacksburg, which is the home of the Virginia tech Hokies Go Hokies.

Margie: 4:54

Hokies With a K.

Paul Kuzma: 4:56

That’s correct. H-o-k-i-e -S. So what’s a Hokie? You know that’s so fun that you’ve just asked me that question. Margie, I’m going to give you the official answer.

Margie: 5:09

Okay.

Paul Kuzma: 5:10

We don’t know. Oh that is the. You can Google it.

Margie: 5:16

What is a Hokie official?

Paul Kuzma: 5:17

answer what’s a? What’s a Virginia tech Hokie.

Margie: 5:20

I mean, I keep asking my husband what’s a Whitney lion as opposed to a regular lion? There you go, there you go. You’re like what.

Paul Kuzma: 5:27

Our mascot for the Virginia tech Hokies is a turkey, and the reason for that is because before the name Hokies they were called the, the Virginia tech goblers.

Margie: 5:42

So the question is is that an improvement to Hokie? I don’t know.

Paul Kuzma: 5:49

So so we have a an 80 plus acre campus that for the the four square church denomination owns, that is called the whole of it is called cross point conference center. But on the campus is a set of seven apartments in one build, one of four apartment buildings that is dedicated as what I love to call four squares. Gift of a free time share to our pastors and their families. Wow, I love it we offer up to a week a year of free lodging very nicely, kind of plushed out apartment that a pastor or their family members get fully to themselves. They can come for anything from a study break to some Sabbath rest to to crisis management dealing with some kind of crisis. If they’d like counseling, I’m the primary counselor on the campus, serving in that whole full time. Okay, a little part time slice of my life, margie. I work with a guy by the name of Pete Scazzero. Pete and his wife are the founders of a ministry that today is called emotionally healthy discipleship. Yeah, and it really crosses well with my work with our four sport pastors. Emotionally healthy discipleship is based on the premise that you can’t separate your emotional health from your spiritual maturity. Therefore, you can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. And that’s that’s got a lot of tie into my own story.Margie: 7:27

Yeah, sure, and it’s scary. It’s scary to boot If you think about, you know, society as a whole, or you know that’s very scary. But I’m very excited to have you on, you know, as a member of the four square denomination, because I, as as this podcast, I want to serve broadly, you know, pastors of any denomination that is willing to. You know it does take a bit of humility to to say I’ve got issues. I need to do better with self care. I need to all of that. So I’m I’m excited about that. So I want you to talk to us, though, about your ministry context prior to burnout. So you were a senior pastor three and a half years in.

Paul Kuzma: 8:17

Yep, at the same church that I had already served. By the time I hit burnout it was a little over 15 years of ministry at the same church and, like I mentioned a couple minutes ago, served my first 12 years with the three previous senior pastors. All of those transitions were painful for the pastor’s family and the church and when I became a senior pastor started to do some history on the church, I discovered it was actually started in 1949. I was the ninth pastor in the church’s history and the church had never known a positive pastoral transition that I could, that I could trace. And so, three and a half years in, I found myself in a season of having given myself to a flurry of ministry activity, as most pastors do, not knowing much about limits or boundaries at the time, and found myself in a season barely able to get out of bed many mornings, crying at the drop of a hat, getting angry about things that I didn’t generally or historically get angry about, and wondering what in the world I was doing and the job I was in. Had a uh, pastoral counselor in my life at the time. I was not in any kind of official therapy or counseling, it was more of a mentor kind of relationship who sat me down and said, paul, I think you’re in burnout and I didn’t get here overnight Not getting out overnight and you need to look at get some help. Wow, that that was kind of the ministry context. It was, uh, season of a lot of learning to grow out of that and grow back from burnout.

Margie: 10:13

Hmm, how long did it take your process? So you were told by a mentor I think you’re in burnout. How long, then, did it take you to get back to some semblance of you know, normal? I’m doing air quotes over normal. I think that’s a setting on the dryer, but you know.

Paul Kuzma: 10:34

Well, it’s been well to 2020. It was 23 years ago right now, that I was in that season. It was January, February that I uh 2001, that I hit that season. And Margie, that’s a hard question to answer I I can’t really put a number of how long it took me. And in some ways I still, when I share my story, say I’m in recovery. Hmm, because the reality is that, at least for me and a lot of pastors that I work with these days who are navigating burnout, what we realize is, once you get out of it, there’s no guarantee that you don’t experience some level of it again. Hmm. So in some ways I say that I’m I’m still in recovery and some of the main issues that I discovered in counseling and therapy in my initial recovery season, I’m still navigating and managing those issues that led me to burnout today that I ended up discovering. But if I can go back to my initial recovery, I would say I was in a what I called a modified sabbatical for about six months, and what I mean by modified sabbatical is I wasn’t away from the church the entirety of that time but I was given freedom by my church council and my district supervisor to do what I needed to do to find my way back to health during that season of time, and I think even better than the term normal is the term noon dorm. Hmm, it took me about. It took me about six months to get back to a place where I said to my congregation I’m back, but it’s going to look different, okay, and then it probably took me another four or five years to figure out what that different really was. There’s a lot of fine tuning.

Margie: 12:40

Sure, and how did it have to look different this time?

Paul Kuzma: 12:43

Yeah, yeah, so probably best by filling in that what ended up happening was initially, when my mentor sat down with me and I started talking about my symptoms of very low energy, strong fatigue, hardly get out of bed in the morning, crying at the drop of a hat, the anger that I was experiencing. He was the one who said I think you need some time off. It had been a long time Probably the most time I had taken off all at once was maybe a week, in an hour or two, which didn’t happen very often and so we ended up arranging for me to take a break for one month. I felt like at the time that’s all the church could handle. I had a pretty skewed view of my importance at the time I could put it that way and so I took a month off. I came back at the end of that month. It was an incredible time of reconnecting with Jesus as a person. But I came back and encountered a couple situations where that anger arose. It became quickly apparent to me that one month wasn’t enough. But even when I took my one month break, I refused to call it a sabbatical, because at our church, sabbaticals were things that pastors didn’t come back from. Really they were what I call reactive sabbaticals. I think there’s two kinds of sabbaticals I’ve learned over the years. Reactive and proactive. And around our denomination and around the church I was at, sabbaticals were things that pastors they were disciplinary in nature. We had to put a pastor on sabbatical versus being proactive and planning to engage seasons of sabbatical every handful of years. We just haven’t had that kind of history in our denomination. So when it became apparent that the one month wasn’t enough, I ended up working out an idea that I called a modified sabbatical, which again meant that I wasn’t preaching every week like I previously was, and I was free to make decisions about my schedule on a day-to-day basis. It allowed me to follow my body, see my doctor, so I started getting physical in place. At the time I had high blood pressure First time in my life I faced that. I started being treated for that and then also began to see a therapist for the first time. A therapist’s office is a place that I’d never gone to for myself, even though I told hundreds of people over the years to go there. So it was in therapy that I started to be introduced to the concept of family systems theory and my family of origin. My first therapist knew a genogram with me discovered I had played the role of savior in my family of origin oh, interesting, and ended up discovering how common it is that we take the role that we played in our family of origin into the rest of our life, in our adult years, and how I had become in my mind, without ever, almost subconsciously, wanting to be or thinking I was called to be the savior for this congregation who had painful pastoral history.Margie: 16:37

Yeah, yeah, and you know we’re fixers, we’re fixers, but except when it comes to ourselves and we’re in a situation and or we’re broken or whatever. I mean, I just did this. I just did this again, you know, and I thought you know, because I can easily say wow, you know, passers don’t this and they don’t go for help and they don’t, you know, reach out for coaching. They don’t reach out for what they need. They’re a tough audience to minister to. And then I turned around and realized I’m talking about myself again, because I just did it again.

Paul Kuzma: 17:14

Yes, so that speaks to a critical lesson that I learned with my initial therapist, margie. I ended up initially spending two weeks at a retreat center up in Northern California with a therapist who was a former pastor himself, and during the course, at the end of those two weeks, on the last day I was there, my friend Russ said to me Paul, I think you’re going to make it long term in ministry, but it’s not going to be with a without a lot more pain and a lot more loss of relationship. And I said, russ, thanks so much, my brother, for those just deeply encouraging parting words. And if I could do what you need to do with this in the reporting, margie, I looked at him and I said what all does that mean? Because I am shaking in my boots right now. He said well, he said, paul, we’ve talked about a lot of things over these two weeks in your life, in your approach to ministry, that need to change for you to last long term. He said more pain means that you’re gonna go home and be tempted to keep doing life and ministry the way you’ve always done and it will be painful for you To call yourself out and do it differently. He said more loss of relationship means that I’m I’m sending you home to a congregation that’s only known pastor Paul one way for 15 years, and when you start to do life in ministry differently, you’re gonna have some people who aren’t gonna like it and that’s probably gonna lead to some loss of relationship. Well, this guy could not have been. This former pastor now serving as a therapist could not have been more prophetic, margie one of those Become kind of a mantra of my story that I, that I joke with a little bit I I’ll often say over the next four or five years we learned how to grow a church from about four or five hundred people to about 200.Margie: 19:34

And I’m not being facetious about the growth.Paul Kuzma: 19:36

I think I do get a growth For the congregation. We we did not have one church split. We didn’t have a Sunday where like half of people didn’t show up, right, but what we did have was Kind of decision by decision or conflict by conflict. We’d have people that would make decisions that Paul’s not doing life in ministry the same way he’s always done it. One of the things that I began to address In therapy was how much of a conflict avoid and how I didn’t see conflict as healthy or normal or natural. I Saw it as you know. Conflict means that there’s a problem.

Margie: 20:23

Mm-hmm.

Paul Kuzma: 20:24

So when I began to start to take a healthy view of conflict and learn conflict management, that was different for people that I would actually began to address conflict as it arose. I Not saying I did it all perfectly right. There were people that I heard that I’ve had to return to and and reconcile with to the best of my ability. But it just began to do it differently and it I it produced results that you know weren’t always Up and to the right I could put it that way.

Margie: 21:03

So what? What else did you do differently?

Paul Kuzma: 21:07

Yeah. So, russ, my first couple days there, asked me if I’d ever read a book by John Townsend and Henry Cloud called boundaries. Hmm, and I said man Ross, that’s such a great book. I Recommend that book all the time. And he said, okay, but have you ever read the book? I said, man, that’s got some great chapters in it. I I’ve passed chapters in that book to people. He said, paul, if you ever read the book boundaries? I Said nah, not really no. And that became that book became foundational for me, margie, to begin to realize that Boundaries are an important part of health and self-care. So, you know, I began to put boundaries in place around you know some of my hours. I began to learn about Sabbath and its importance and began to institute and implement Sabbath practice. I began to recognize that a couple of the personal issues that it led me into Into burnout had to do with work addiction and Perfectionism and began to address those areas in my life, a very practical thing that I started to do. Interestingly that I’ve now gone into counseling. At the time I was doing a lot of counseling and began to realize how much of a time and energy drain it was. And then at that season I was not the best counselor for people. So I began to refer people to counseling Instead of doing the counseling myself, and that was one boundary that I was Working with in a fresh and new way in my life. So so those were. Those were some of the things that I began to change about how I was approaching life and ministry.

Margie: 23:12

Yeah, and I’m curious too about you said work, workaholic and and I think many pastors are Encumbered with a productivity mindset you know I can do that. At the end of the day, you know, I look at was I productive today? Was this a productive day? And I, you know, maybe there were good things that were sown into the day. Yes that will lead to other things in the future. But the North American Mindset towards productivity is a little and it’s impacted ministry in the church.

Paul Kuzma: 23:51

Yes, that’s absolutely right. The the, the Western mindset of productivity. I would add to that list of factors driving work addiction and workaholism for pastors. I would add to that the, the history of the church growth movement in America and the Maybe the filter of productivity that’s been placed over that, that everything that every healthy church Grows and that should be in numbers as well, right I? I think I actually have learned for myself. I’ve become more convinced that there’s a place for the small church in America. I Think another layer or factor on this issue of work addiction is how in the world Can you work, can I work too much for God? I Mean if, if I just put in the work, he’ll pick up the rest of the pieces right, he’ll take care of everything else. When we look at some of our historical figures around American Christianity and some of the popular evangelists, pastors, ministers, you know they adopted the mindset I’d rather Burn out than rust out. Some of those kinds of things were, were models for me. So, so I think those were, those were all factors in the work addiction. Peace as well, my own family of origin, watching my, my mom and dad Work and work and work and work with the nose to the grindstone, those, those were factors for my own work addiction as well so you did.

Margie: 25:43

You did a lot of introspection, a lot of Work on your self-awareness. Yes, you know why you do the things, you do in the way that you do them, and Then decided to pull back on what wasn’t healthy.

Paul Kuzma: 25:59

Yes, I started realizing that the the the best gift that I can give to anybody else in my life is a healthy me. Absolutely, absolutely, because you, there’s people all around you, your family, your friends, the people that you’re called to lead in ministry and those relationships matter right, right, the analogy of anytime anybody gets on an airplane and you get that safety briefing and if the oxygen mask Drops down, please make sure you put your own oxygen mask on before you put it on, before you help somebody else.

Margie: 26:44

Right.Paul Kuzma: 26:45

I think that’s so important for pastors, ministers, to pick up that analogy, that we can’t help Others if we can’t Help ourselves. Right, we can’t kick the well for others if we’re not care for ourselves.Margie: 27:04

Right, right. Well, so you talked a lot about you’re still in recovery, which means that also that you know your You’re Acquiring that level of self-awareness is something that you chronically Attend to yes, it is.

Paul Kuzma: 27:27

So one of the things that means for me very practically is that I still see my therapist to this day, and I learned about 12, 13 years ago when I went into school for counseling. I wasn’t aware that the counselors, as you’re going through school, you’re required to be in therapy yourself and I thought how, how profound is that? That I’m, I’m, it’s another level of self-care. I the the propensity of pastors that I work with who have an aversion to Therapy and counseling. It’s pretty strong. I’ve come to the place now, margie, where I tell pastors all the time I’ve become convinced that every pastor needs a therapist. As a matter of fact, just that, you answered the call, the ministry tells me you need a therapist.

Margie: 28:30

Oh, okay. Well, now I’m gonna have to ask you to say more about that.

Paul Kuzma: 28:34

Yeah, so Ministry is so complex. I think it was If I have it right, I think I I’ve heard that it was Peter Drucker who Quoted some kind of research that had been done, maybe a couple decades ago, that they discovered the Pastoral ministry, the pastors Pastoral ministry is one of the most hazardous and stressful Occupations like it was in the top three and I Think every pastor needs you know some writing partners. I don’t think we can do this alone. We’re not meant to do this alone. I think even scripturally, biblically, we’re not meant to do this alone. We’re meant to do this with other people. But yet there’s kind of a mystique out there that the pastor’s got to be perfect. The pastor’s got to have it together. The family of the pastor has to have it together. The reality is that we’re all humans. One of my distant early mentors in the work that I do now is was a guy by the name of Archibald Hart, and he served out the bulk of his career as the director of the school of psychology of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, did a lot of research Around pastors and a lot of counseling in this area, and he used to say I heard him say to Multiple groups of pastors over the years. Margie, pastors don’t get into trouble because they forget that they’re pastors. Pastors get into trouble because they forgot that they’re people hmm, we forget that we’re human.

Margie: 30:24

sometimes I feel like you forget that you’re finite, that’s right and that there are limits. That’s what I mean by that. We have limits to what we can do. God is infinite, but we are definitely finite and we need to then intentionally allocate our time, energy, attention, resources accordingly and not burn the candle at both ends, as they say, for burnout for sure. So so you did, you did your counseling, you did your sabbatical, which I think it started out a revised sabbatical, but then I’m into more of a sabbatical after that, and what are some other things that you did to address your burnout, or did we pretty much get them?

Paul Kuzma: 31:18

Yeah, I would. I would say I began to, I began to look at my year every year in the In the scope of the rhythms. What would the rhythm of my year look like? And I began to build in a rhythm of rest and retreat. So I started to take one or two three to five day study breaks each year where I would get out of town somewhere. I called it a study break, for lack of a better term. What it was was an ability to get out of town where the pressure was. I believe in that old Western term of getting out of dodge, the thing about getting out of our everyday, getting out of the demands of home and giving yourself some freedom to follow your body in terms of rest for those days to work when you feel you have the energy for work. So there was study that took place within that break. I often plan out my next four to six months of sermon themes. Take a look at what the vacation calendar looks like for our family over the next several months. I started to take vacation rather than minimize vacation.Margie: 32:40

Rather than getting the medal for not taking vacation. That’s absolutely right.

Paul Kuzma: 32:44

Instead of I developed a preaching team format of ministry around our church, which was another area of contention at times for some people. For those first few years I also again I mentioned a little earlier I started to implement Sabbath, a weekly Sabbath, to take a look at what it looked like to unplug for those 24 hours to stop. And then another practical point I began when I picked up Scazzero’s, his original book, the Emotionally Healthy Church in 2003. I ended up just closely following that material. It was early enough in what was happening around the Scazzero’ s at that time that I was able to get to know him a little bit personally, started to ask him how he was applying this concept of emotionally healthy, discipling people and their emotional health to ministry life and began to apply a lot of those principles Over those years as his notoriety grew a little bit more. He asked if I would just take some phone calls and emails from pastors that are wondering the same things that I was wondering and that I was actually applying. And so today I serve as director of a small group of volunteers pastors who have applied and integrated what we call the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship course into our church’s discipleship pathways, and we talk with pastors around the US and Canada about doing that same thing, so that has helped me as well. It’s another practical way that I’ve just continued to engage that in my own personal life the concept of seeing my emotional health as a point of discipleship. Sure sure, and it’s separated from my followership of Jesus.

Margie: 34:49

Right, right and you get to see Jesus do redemption. That’s right Of a challenging situation. Yes, so here we are, a bit after COVID, I mean to the point where I think the throngs at Christmas, you know, during this recent Christmas season, have returned or close to returned, even though numbers still are not where they were before. But you know, and that’s where my concern is, you know how hard are pastors working to thinking that what they do is going to get everybody to come back, whether that’s an additional burden that pastors are carrying right now. But I would like to see what you would say are the top three things that you might say to ministry leaders today maybe, who are wondering if they’re dealing with burnout or just in terms of their work-life balance maybe. So what are your top three pieces of advice that you would offer to ministers?

Paul Kuzma: 35:59

Yeah, that’s a great question and I would say, margie, that first and foremost would be to really adopt a mindset that you, that who you are, is more important than what you do. But what you do matters. It matters for eternity, but who you are matters more. The best gift again that you can bring to your congregation, as you’re leading and pastoring and shepherding people, is a healthy you. So whatever you can do to invest in who you are and let what you do flow from that well, your own relationship with Jesus, your relationship with your family, friends and a relationship with your congregation. And then another mantra that I picked up in my relationship with Pete Schazzaro would essentially say that the state you are in is the state that you give to others. So if you’re an anxious person, that will make you an anxious pastor, and it’s important to realize again that who you are will inform what you do. So invest in you. Number one, and I think you know. I come back to the mantra I mentioned earlier. I think every pastor needs a therapist. If it’s a therapist, a counselor, life coach, you know different seasons of your life and leadership might demand different relationships. Take the more spiritual director.

Margie: 37:53

Don’t do the journey alone is what I like to say. You need to have other people with you and I know. At one point I had a spiritual director and a coach. I was leading a merger and I was thinking, man. I could mess this up. And so I got you know the people to journey with me. I mean, this is, out of proverbs, the counsel of many as wise, and so I thought, well, we’re loading up. But it is important not to journey alone, because you get stuck inside your own head and sometimes that’s not a great place to be at all.

Paul Kuzma: 38:35

The mantra used for that is your head is a dangerous place, don’t ever go there alone. Yeah, the second thing I would say is that it’s so important to be honest with yourself about the, about stress and its impact, and how stressful ministry can be and is, and then figure out what works for you to navigate and manage that stress and cope with that stress in healthy ways. I mentioned Arch Hart a little bit ago. He’s written several books. What I consider is Cornerstone’s work of Arch’s life is in a book called the Hidden Link Between a Dreadel in Stress. While he spent the final bulk of his career as a clinical psychologist and dean of the School of Psychology out there Fuller, he started his career as a scientist and then he ended up mixing those two disciplines and did some research about the impact of adrenaline to our stress management.

Margie: 39:41

So that’s the Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress.

Paul Kuzma: 39:47

It’s an older book, it’s about 40, maybe a little over 40 years old, but it’s as relevant today as it’s ever been, and he wrote it for pastors. So it’s a great way to get acquainted with this concept of adrenaline, this chemical that got created of us with and has great purpose of use, but is actually a chemical that we can become addicted to. Arch proposes that we can actually become so addicted to our adrenaline that we’re pulling on it at will. We’re calling it crisis management or we’re calling it I do my best work in the last minute. Now, what that really means is that you like the adrenaline. Arch was one of the earliest folks that I heard talking to pastors about the concept of self-care. He would often say Margie. He would say, pastor, please don’t confuse your adrenaline with the anointing on Sunday morning. That’s funny. So the impact of stress on your physical body. I would say that that would be the second piece of advice that I would give to pastors that are recognizing burnout and its impact, and then I would say you know the number three thing I think would be found in a couple of questions. One is what are you doing for fun in your life? I know I tend to take myself way too seriously. So I have to really lean into having some fun in my life to supplement stress and handle, cope with stress in more healthy ways. But then I would also ask the question for pastors. I ask them regularly who are your friends outside of ministry, who are not projects?

Margie: 41:46

That’s a good question.

Paul Kuzma: 41:47

Who is your friend outside of your church, outside of your ministry? That’s not the guy on the treadmill next to you that you carry a gym membership to lead people to Jesus. Who is the friend in your life? That’s not somebody you’re meeting at the coffee house. You know to disciple them on a weekly basis. Who are your friends outside of ministry? I’ll tell you. It’s become more and more important over time, especially given that one of the most significant pieces of research coming to the surface over the last few years is how lonely and isolated ministry can be. Absolutely so. When I’m asking pastors that question, margie, I’m regularly having pastors saying I have no one, I do not have friends. The people that are in my life are there because I’m a pastor.

Margie: 42:46

And how well do pastors cope with attempting to find friends who are not projects, who are not part of their church?

Paul Kuzma: 42:58

Yeah, it has to come back to the idea of what you do matters, but who you are matters more. So I find that the many, many pastors, before they can even navigate into the practicality of where do I find those friends? We have to wade through a little bit of a marsh, maybe for some pastors, a swamp of. I am what I do, yeah, Period, and I find my identity. If I’m not pastoring, I don’t know who. I am One of my. I’ve had three different therapists over the course of the last couple of decades, plus One of my early therapists. I’ll never forget how, in one session he, he it was. It felt like a slap in the face, Margie, when he said to me Paul, I can always tell the health of your soul when you talk about doing something other than string. I felt like a slap in the face because when he said that, I realized, oh my goodness, I am talking about doing something other than God’s call oh my. Is it okay to talk about that? And my therapist just told me it’s okay to talk about that. It’s actually healthy to talk about. If you weren’t, if you weren’t in pastoral medicine, what would you do?

Margie: 44:28

Right. Sell insurance no Right.

Paul Kuzma: 44:32

But so I I think that’s something that carries us through waiting, through the marsh or the swamp of who am I apart from what I do? And that’s just such an important question to answer. So before we, a lot of pastors, before they can ever figure out, how do I find those friends? We have to go through the journey, and it is a journey, a process, a journey of transformation. To get to the place of recognizing who I am is more important than what I do.Margie: 45:07

That’s that is. That is huge, and you know I’m going to stop us on that note. This is a good place to stop it. You’ve just really given us a lot of food for thought here as we’ve talked, and I have a feeling at some point I’ll be tapping you on the shoulder again to join us some more Awesome. So I want to really, really thank you for being willing to share your story and and the things that you learned along the way, in the hopes of other people grasping onto some of these concepts and really thinking them through. So thank you very much.

Paul Kuzma: 45:48

Absolutely so welcome. Thank you for connecting and having me on.

Margie: 45:53

You’re welcome. Are you wondering whether your fatigue, your lack of motivation, your lack of interest is burnout Maybe? I just wanted to let you know that I have a resource on the website, margiebryce dot com, that’s B-R-Y-C-E margiebryce dot com, but it is a burnout questionnaire, free for you to download, and kind of self-assess and get a sense of where you’re at. There are questions that not only ask about what you’re going through but maybe how often you’re experiencing it, and that sets kind of a key to where you might be, because you have to know where you are in order to chart a course forward. And most pastors who experience pastors and ministry leaders who experience burnout rarely know that that’s where they’re at until they’re well into it. And if you’re unsure about that little statistic, so far, everybody that I’ve interviewed on this podcast who has experienced burnout, when I asked that kind of question, they’re like, yeah, I didn’t know that’s where I was at. So again, go to margiebryce dot com it’s on the homepage of the website and you can get your burnout questionnaire and kind of see where you’re at. Hey friends, the Crabby Pastor podcast is sponsored by Bryce Art Glass and you can find that on Facebook I make stained glass, that’s part of my self-care and also by Bryce Coaching, where I coach ministry leaders and business leaders, and so the funds that I generate from coaching and from making stained glass is what is supporting this podcast and I will have opportunities for you to be a part of sponsoring me and, as always, you can do the Buy Me a Cup of Coffee thing in the show notes. But I will have some other ways that you can be a part of getting the word out about the importance of healthy self-care for ministry leaders. Hey, thanks for listening. It is my deep desire and passion to champion issues of sustainability in ministry and for your life, so I’m here to help. I stepped back from pastoral ministry and I feel called to help ministry leaders create and cultivate sustainability in their lives so that they can go the distance with God and whatever plans that God has for you. I would love to help, I would consider it an honor and, in all things, make sure you connect to these sustainability practices you know, so that you don’t become the Crabby pastor.

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