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Margie Bryce

Your leadership coach
and self-care advocate

118: Back from Burnout ENCORE: Rev. Eden Avalos’ Journey to Sustainable Self-Care

The Crabby Pastor
The Crabby Pastor
118: Back from Burnout ENCORE: Rev. Eden Avalos' Journey to Sustainable Self-Care
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While on sabbatical (yes, I’m taking my own advice), we are replaying podcasts where our brave guests tell their journey into and out of burnout. You won’t want to miss these as there’s always something to learn from others, right? 

This episode, Rev. Eden Avalos shares a story of emotional fatigue. His candid recount of seeking therapy and restructuring his life offers a beacon of hope and practical advice for ministry leaders navigating similar challenges.

Eden’s journey didn’t end there; it took him through a tumultuous interim period and even a factory job, all while grappling with feelings of being undervalued and emotionally drained. His time in manual labor, fraught with physical discomfort, became a space for deep introspection and mental fortitude. This episode reveals the profound insights Eden gained on the necessity of a stable, fulfilling career and how personal space contributes to mental health and ministry sustainability.

Let this discussion inspire you to cultivate a balanced, resilient approach to your calling, ensuring you can thrive and go the distance with God’s plans.

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: 

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 and today’s episode of the Crabby Pastor podcast and I want to welcome you all this is Margie Bryson. I am your host talking about all things self-care for ministry leaders and some leadership issues, because you know the first line of leadership is to be able to lead yourself well, and sometimes you know we have that intention going into ministry, but sometimes the demands of the task that we have been given get a little overwhelming or we get a little entrenched in them and it takes us to the place of burnout, which is the place beyond. A nap will just fix this kind of realm.Margie:

 

So I have visited that place and I always appreciate people who are willing to come on the podcast and share their back from burnout stories, because we all can learn from one another as we go along here, and today I have Reverend Eden Avalos with me and I met him at a development session in San Diego for coaches, so he’s a coach as well, and he shared his burnout story and I was interested because I could tell he was a 30-something person. So I like to have the younger people on to learn from one another and to benefit and to grow. So I’m going to let Eden introduce himself. Tell us a bit about who you are and what you’re doing these days.Eden:

 

My name is Eden Avalos. I am in Indiana. I came from New Mexico. I’ve been in youth ministry, primarily here in Indiana.Eden:

 

Before this I was kind of the catch-all, be-all pastor and I had different titles. I mean, I did a lot of youth ministry, I did a lot of associate work, I did a lot of outreach work During COVID, I did a lot of media work. So it was kind of, you know, whatever the need was at the time, that was my position. But here in Indiana it’s primarily been one thing. It’s just been youth ministry and associate to the pastor of just whatever he needs. If he’s on vacation, I’m in charge. If he is in a meeting, I’m in charge, kind of a thing. So it’s been different.Eden:

 

This is my first full-time position I’ve done. You know there’s no such thing as part-time ministry. It’s the first time where I only have to do this. This is the only thing I have to do, and so before it was youth ministry and something else. It was youth ministry and real estate or ministry and working in a factory, ministry and, you know, photography or yard work, whatever. Whatever I needed to do to make ends meet was my former life, whereas now it’s just this is all I have to do, and everything outside of ministry is just something I want to do, so it’s a good combination.Margie:

 

Now, Okay, so you talked about your visit to burnout and I guess I’m curious when you first got the inkling that something was off.Eden:

 

The first time must have been. I think we were going on a youth trip to San Diego again and I remember reaching the top of the hill and looking over the water and I was just thinking like this has to be the last time I do this trip, like I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m tired. And I enjoyed that trip though it’s always a fun event. I always have had fun with the kids but I was just done with it. I was just. I just didn’t want to keep going. And then from that point on, I still did it one more time, but the last time I did it I was just.Eden:

 

I was in a whole different place mentally, a darker place mentally, and it was that it was that first time where I was just getting to the point where I had just so much going on, I was being pulled in too many different directions and now I had to go on this trip. And so I think that is like the beginning of when I was starting to think like I have to figure something out. But in that I needed to get out of ministry was my thought process. But when my wife got pregnant is when I did a self-reflection, a self-analysis, and I looked at just my life and I thought I can’t be a father effectively with all this going on. I have to fix this. With all this going on, I have to fix this. And so that’s when I went into therapy and really just started narrowing down on these things and did the work that the therapist was recommending.Eden:

 

And during that time it was just not. It was just wasn’t great at work because I was going through an interim phase and myself and the other and the youth pastor took on the interim position for a year, about a year. It was during COVID and it was. It was at a legacy church, you know, a church that had a very prominent position and my father-in-law was the pastor that was there before me and when he retired he kind of we took it on and it was a very, just, very difficult time. We didn’t know what was going on, we didn’t know how the election process was going. We just kind of were it kind of put into a corner. But then when the new pastor was elected, they hired this great guy. I still love the guy, he’s a great pastor and I committed I’m going to serve under him for a minimum of one year and then if something opens up, I’ll step out.Eden:

 

And something opened up and so I stepped out after a year, wanting to stay there, but I stepped out. I stepped out just because, being related to the former pastor and being, you know, kind of, I felt like I was carrying that legacy into the church, just being related to the former pastor, and so I felt like I was doing a disservice to the current pastor and so I had to. I stepped out. But my family is all back home in New Mexico and so it was a difficult decision to come out here. But I felt like I was in a better place mentally to and physically and emotionally to come out here and pastor alongside my current pastor. But the first inkling was that I just realized I can’t keep going in a hundred different directions at a hundred miles an hour and I need something, needs something, has to give, because it’s going to break. And then it, and then it just did break.Margie:

 

So when you say it, it did break, what exactly describe for us what what that looked like?Eden:

 

Yeah, so it wasn’t like one moment. It was a series of moments where, right after COVID, right after we got shut down sorry, no, let me backtrack Right after I took on the interim role and I didn’t take it on by myself, but I’ll just, without including the other pastor I took on the interim, interim role and the first thing we had to do was a funeral for one of my teenagers who had committed suicide and so that kind of put me in a tailspin and nobody checked in on us.Eden:

 

Nobody checked in. You know how are you handling this? I was checking in on the family, I was checking in on the kids, on the other people that you know were affected by this, but nobody was just checking in on me. My wife was checking in on me, but I wasn’t giving her everything, I wasn’t telling her everything, because I just had learned at that point you bottle everything up, so how old were you at that point?Margie:

 

I’m so bad with age I think I was just had learned at that point. You bottle everything up. So how old were you at that point?Eden:

 

I’m so bad with age. I think I was 28. Okay, I have no idea, I’m currently 32, but only because I just remembered yesterday that I’m 32. So I’m not exactly sure of ages. But it was a few months right before COVID hit, so it was March of 2020. A few months before, that is when, is when it was when this all happened, and then, and then it hit, and then it just went, you know just terribly.Margie:

 

Oh it was it was, that was, was, would you say. This is accurate, that the suicide of the teenager was maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back for you, or just put you over the edge?Eden:

 

I would say I would say that it I had. I was at capacity or right before capacity and this came on and but then it just kept piling up. After that four capacity and this came on and but then it just kept piling up after that. And so I guess, I guess, I guess it could have been I I’m not sure exactly I’d have to look at my journal of of, just because, surprisingly, I I’ve kept the journal for the past, you know, six years, even through burnout, and it’s kind of dark to read through because you’re like what is going on in this guy’s life? Or a couple years ago it was, it was I was just saying like today was terrible, today was terrible, today was okay, today was terrible, today was terrible.Eden:

 

Um, so I I could back track and kind of see where it all really fell apart, but it it could have been that that that kind of pushed me over, but I had a lot going in. I I had a lot that I was just tolerating, that I was ignoring a lot of the, not to speak ill of anyone. But people don’t appreciate the interim pastor, the associate pastor, the youth pastor, as much as they appreciate the senior pastor and so pastor, the youth pastor, as much as they appreciate the senior pastor. And so, even though during the interim period we didn’t lose a single member, we didn’t have any major fights, we didn’t have any major breakouts, that was never acknowledged, that was never.Margie:

 

That you were holding the fort together. Basically, Right.Eden:

 

Plus doing our own jobs of our individual ministry, plus doing our bivocational jobs to make ends meet. And so I think the moment that I realized I can’t do this anymore is when, like at the end of the interim period, when they had elected the new, the coming senior pastor, they said we’d like to now thank Pastor Eden and the other pastor for their pulpit supply for the last year. And I was. I just that moment broke me because I was like, oh, the pulpit supply, that’s all we did. Pulpit supply, okay, that’s good. I’m glad nothing else got noticed. I’m glad that you know that that’s what I’m known for is pulpit supply. And so that moment is the one where I was just like this isn’t going to work, like I can’t do this, I’m not doing this, and that’s when around that time is when I was, when I I started going to therapy and and really I just broke down with my wife and just told her like this is, this has gotten pretty bad, this is not a good, I’m not in a good place and I need help, and so that’s that’s, that’s the start of it. And then going through therapy and going through the things that my counselor was telling me, kind of getting that shift in perspective helped me out a lot. And then still on the ordination track, still doing the all the things that you’re required to do for ordination, and so I took an assessment once for one of the requirements. It was a psychological assessment and the person doing the analysis saw my report and was like are you in therapy? You might need to be in therapy because it seems like you’re going through a lot of trauma. You’ve done, you’ve dealt with a lot. You need to, you’ve you need to get these things sorted out. And I told him like yeah, I’m actually currently in therapy, and so he kind of I think he was like okay, well, if you’re as long as you’re working on these things, I think you’ll be fine.Eden:

 

In my report I just saw a lot of potentially dangerous things that I just was ignoring. I was just not paying attention to myself, I wasn’t paying attention to my body telling me slow down, stop, stop worrying about all of these things all at once. But I had no solutions. I had no. There was nothing that I could do at the time. It was weird. And then, but then doors started opening. People were offering me positions, and at first it was, they were all positions that were worse than the position that I was at.Margie:

 

They were worse, meaning you knew you’d end up running hard and fast on the hamster wheel with a heavy load.Eden:

 

Right, exactly Like worse. And it’s not about the money, but it was not enough money, and it was. It was I knew I’d have to go to get the ministry job plus do a whole other job, a whole other career, or my wife would have to do that and my daughter would have to be put in daycare, and we just weren’t negotiating that we or my wife would have to do that and my daughter would have to be put in daycare, and we just weren’t negotiating that. We’re just, we weren’t going to do that. Not that there’s anything wrong with daycare, we just didn’t want to do that.Eden:

 

And so we, we, we kept getting offers like this and I just kept thinking like this just isn’t working, I don’t think there’s, I don’t think there’s anything for me. And so I started at a company, just at a factory, just thinking I’ll work my way up. And it’s not, it was a, it was a. Faith comes by hearing, and so I’m not sure if you or your listeners are familiar, but it’s just, they put audio Bibles together, and so that’s that’s what I did, was I? I went there with, you know, with a master’s degree, with, at that point, you know, 10 years of of pastoral experience, army experience, and.Eden:

 

I got a factory job and it was. It was helpful getting to sit there and just put these things together for eight hours a day, because I got to listen to audiobooks, I got to listen to the bible, I got to listen to podcasts and I was able to do a lot of deep work during that that time that I wasn’t expecting to do. I thought like I’m just going to go in and I’m going to start a new career and I’m going to work my way up in this company. But then within the company, all the positions that were interesting to me were getting taken up and I asked my boss I was like, why am I being passed over? And she said, well, you have to be here for a year before we can recommend you for another position. And all the positions were getting filled and there’s not a high turnover rate at that company at those positions. And so I was like so I have to be here for a year doing this sitting. And it was physically demanding because the tables, all the factory, was set up for shorter people and I’m, you know, six foot two and so I’m kind of like leaned over like this putting these things together, and so physically I was in a lot of pain and I thought I can’t do this for a year and then hope for a position later, and so I ended up just having to quit and and and and was just waiting for something to open up.Eden:

 

Um, I was still selling real estate at the time, but it was. I was getting burnt out from it because of all the I like that business, but I didn’t. I don’t think I was in a healthy place mentally to be doing it well, and so I wasn’t trying as hard. I was still getting sales and I was still able to make money with it, but it wasn’t. It just wasn’t ideal, and so we had to my wife and I just had to make a lot of shifts.Eden:

 

We were living with family during this time and we just realized like we need our own space, and so we got an apartment that we could barely afford. But we had money in savings and so we got the apartment just to hopefully figure something out, just hopefully something will come our way and this will get resolved. And we were there for, I think, eight months and it was just a haven. It was just a safe, warm place that we got to be together, alone, and it made the difference, getting to just to be alone as our little family, because at that point my daughter, when she was born, she was born and we were living with family, and so she moved in with family and not that that’s wrong or bad, it’s just it didn’t work.Eden:

 

It is Everyone’s on top of each other. Everyone’s, we’re sharing a kitchen, we’re sharing all these things. Everyone’s, we’re sharing a kitchen, we’re sharing all these things. And it was a good time, but I was not in the place to enjoy it as I could have. I just I had a lot of deep work that I needed to do, that I had not done, and so so how?Margie:

 

how long was your? Well? First, let’s back up. How did you find this therapist? What? What was the process in coming to find somebody that you felt you could work with?Eden:

 

So that was a miracle of God. The office that I called it was just a Christian counseling office that was down the street. And I called and asked you know how much is it, do you have any availability? And they said we don’t have anybody available right now, but we do have interns that are available. Are you willing to meet with an intern? And at that point I was just desperate. I said I’ll meet with the janitor, I don’t care, like just any anyone, whoever you have is good.Eden:

 

And so I, I met with my counselor, uh, that first time, and I was hesitant going in because a lot of what my not a lot, but a good chunk of what my problem was was theological understandings of, like what is going on in the world and why can’t I make sense of it and why does it seem to be inconsistent with theology, with just worldview. And I was hoping that I would get somebody who was like-minded, who had similar theological understandings. And I knew that that was a high order, because most counselors have to have master’s. I mean, all counselors have to have master’s degrees and that’s a high degree to get. And so I thought like I don’t think that most counselors get theological training, but let’s just see what happens.Eden:

 

And I go and I meet with this intern and he was a former pastor and he had a former pastor and he had a master’s degree in theology and was getting his master’s degree in counseling and it was just, he was a line of rescue that got sent because our theological beliefs were very similar.Eden:

 

We had a very similar upbringing, very similar background, and he was able to walk me through a lot of the things that we went through because he had walked through them and so he was a godsend. It was truly a miracle that God even orchestrated that, because I could have ended up with the other person. You know that that would have been something different and it probably would have helped still, but this, the, the gentleman that I that I was with, uh, just completely helped me, recenter myself on the practice, the basic practices, you know, the, the Jesus prayer, the it was a lot of. It was Greek Orthodox, so a lot of it was just recentering on the fact of that. God is powerful, god is moving, god has the ability to, to change these things and, you know, with the help of therapy it’s just compounds and I just took on spiritual practices of, you know fasting, of praying, you know working out.Eden:

 

It’s not necessarily a spiritual practice, but it is a practice that I think, is important, and so I kind of hobbled together these things and it made a huge difference. And at this point now I’m on the side where I’m no longer underground, I’m no long like. The fire has already been put out, it’s been cleaned out, everything’s been pulled out. Now I’m just building up.Margie:

 

Okay, how long about? How long of a process was this for you?Eden:

 

I think it’s been about four years. If I were to put a number on it, I’d say about four to five years. It’s been about closer to four, I think 44 years of total of from the beginning stages to now. It’s been about four.Margie:

 

And what would you say are the top things you learned along the way that would be helpful say to our audience along the way that would be helpful.Eden:

 

say to our audience Realize that if you need help, you need help. Don’t put it off, because it can go bad really quick. If you have trauma in your life that is unaddressed, it needs to be addressed. If you have self-deprecation issues which I have, I still have, I still it’s. My tendency is to self-deprecate. But if you are a person that does that, that is not going to help. Living in shame is not going to help.Margie:

 

It just makes it significantly worse and worse, and so and how would you describe self-deprecating, in case somebody wants a little more unpacking on that?Eden:

 

Anything I do, I do it wrong. If I cured cancer tomorrow, I would have taken too long, I would have done it wrong, I would have been over budget. I would have been over budget. I always find a way to tear down what I do. Regardless of what I do or regardless of how well I do it, I can do something extremely well. Look at it and go eh, it wasn’t that hard, actually, anyone can do it.Eden:

 

Just recently I was talking about education through high school. All of my teachers none of my teachers encouraged me to go to college because they didn’t think I could make it, and so I was just of the belief that I’m just not going to college. I have to figure something else out. But I had one teacher who said you need to go like if you want to go, you can make it like that, you shouldn’t let that slow you down. And that one teacher made a difference and I didn’t, you know, enroll in college until I was 21, 22. So I was older than the other students, but I had a calling on my life, and so I believe that I needed to go to college.Eden:

 

In my first semester I was nervous, I was terrified, but I did it. And then I thought, okay, well, I can, I can do another one, and I can do another one. Then I got my bachelor’s degree then and I’m like, well, let’s see if I can do a master’s degree. And I got my master’s degree and then when I graduated with my master’s degree, I looked at all of my education and I went, if I could do it, then anyone can do it. So it wasn’t that hard, it clearly wasn’t that difficult, and so I just tore it down. I just thought, like, I don’t even have I still don’t even have my degrees hanging on the wall, because it’s just that that’s my habit is like, oh, if I did it, it’s anyone, anyone’s capable of doing it, and right now it’s just because I haven’t done it.Margie:

 

I will put them up at some point, but I just don’t have.Eden:

 

I don’t know where they are.Margie:

 

We just moved, so yeah, so anything else words of wisdom besides, if you to get help quickly, to realize I need help and to go after that and and if you know that you have trauma or you know that you have quirks about how you perceive yourself, how you perceive life and just your general mindset, is there any other words of?Eden:

 

wisdom that you’d offer. Ultimately, just take it seriously. If you’ve decided to call out and you get help, take what they say seriously. Don’t just kind of process it mentally and think, oh just, yeah, sure, that’s great, do the work. Do the work because otherwise you’re just putting a Band-Aid on the issue and you’re not getting to the symptoms, you’re not actually healing, you’re just masking and you’re ignoring.Eden:

 

And you have to do a life shift, a complete shift, to get out of burnout successfully, to get out of that mindset successfully. You have to change everything because if you keep, the reason you got there is because all of your habits led you to that. It’s not a random thing that was just dealt to you. It’s the way you process, the way you engage, the way you do. All of those things led you to that, and so if you want to get out of that, you have to undo all the things you were doing, and it takes a long time. It’s be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, give yourself rest, give yourself breaks because you’re going to need them overall.Eden:

 

You’re going to need them. If you don’t, you’re just going to end up back in the same place as you were before. I actively have to tell myself no, you don’t need another job. No, you shouldn’t start a business. No, you don’t. That like what you’re doing is you’re panicking, and so like I have to understand when I start getting uneasy. I have to understand well, what is the source of this, where is this coming from and what am I trying to ignore, and that I mean. That helps a lot to do that and that’s a level of self-awareness which which I think, boy, there should be courses on just that.Eden:

 

Especially for path.Margie:

 

At all levels, at all levels of education there should be. You know, why am I doing this? Why is this annoying me? Why does that congregate annoy me? You know and you could find out. Oh my gosh, he reminds me of my brother, right?Eden:

 

annoy me, you know, and you could find out.Margie:

 

Oh my gosh, he reminds me of my brother, you know, my brother makes me nuts, you know, and at least coming asking those kinds of questions, what do you do differently now? How does your life look differently now than before?Eden:

 

I, I’m trying to. I, I do my best to be more intentional about enjoying things, and while that’s still hard, I intentionally try to enjoy things Like vacations. I grew up, you know, I’m an immigrant, my parents are immigrants, and so, growing up as an immigrant, you learn to work, and we never vacationed as kids. We went on vacations, but they were work vacations, they were work trips, and so my dad, my mom, they don’t know how to rest, they don’t know how to stop, and therefore I don’t know how to stop, I don’t know how to rest. I never, you know, we never took time off. And so even when I was at my last church vacay I think I took three vacations in seven years, and those vacations were still. I still was doing homework during those, or I was, I was still answering phone calls, or I was still, you know, checking email or whatever. It was, just to keep things going.Margie:

 

But and that’s a boundary, that’s a boundary issue. You probably learned that. Yeah, I did.Eden:

 

And in some vacations, like some trips, I would say like I’m on break from ministry but I still have to do real estate.Eden:

 

Or I’m on break from real estate but I still am waiting on a call from a pastor or something, and so, like the unfortunate reality is bivocational pastors don’t have that luxury to turn those things off all of them at once, because the timing is just not always good.Eden:

 

But for those that get to do this full time, you have to set those boundaries, because if you don’t, people are looking for your boundaries and they’re not doing it in a cynical way, they’re just they need people, need people and the pastor just happens to be one of the most accessible people to get. And so if the pastor doesn’t have good boundaries, the congregants understand well, I can just go to him, go to her regardless. I know they on vacation, but I really need to know whether or not I should eat this thing or whether and it’s all most of it is petty things. A lot of it is petty things. But every now and then you know, of course there has to be a limit, be ignored. But if you’re, if you’re, if you’re allowing the little things to bother you, when you’ve set those boundaries, then you’ve not really set any boundaries, and people are going to continue to bring those little things to you, and so you condition the people around you with your boundaries.Margie:

 

And you said it way nicer than I would just say you train them, you got to train them, Right right, train them up, right you know, Right, but yeah, if you don’t train them, if you don’t condition them to know like these are my boundaries, you need to respect them.Eden:

 

they’re going to go past them because they think they need you.Margie:

 

And they don’t know any better.Eden:

 

Right. Right, because they never learned. And that’s the thing is that in, in, in my, in my recovery, in my all this, what I’ve learned is broken people or break other people, and everyone’s a little bit broken, so can’t expect people to be 100% all the time, and I think a lot of people are redlining. I think a lot of people are just white knuckling their way through. A lot of pastors, primarily, are doing that, and even young pastors that I’ve met. I ask them, like what are your plans? And they have these huge goals and these huge plans and I’m like you got to slow down, like I was exactly where you were and I burnt out. It did not work out for me. They always say the same things I would have said, which is like, well, it just wouldn’t work for you, but it’ll work for me Because, I mean, the arrogance of young people is just, it’s funny.Margie:

 

Now it’s funny. It wasn’t yeah now it’s the older you get. That’s when you start fudging your age more and you look back and go.Eden:

 

What was I? Thinking yeah yeah, oh yeah. I remember some of the things I in my early years, some of the goals I had in my early years, was like who, who do you think you are, that you think you could pull?Eden:

 

that off and not to be not being deprecated, but it’s like I was. I was, you know, thinking. I was a two-year pastor, thinking I could shift a whole denomination, like that’s really unlikely. Or that I could lead the church that’s really unlikely. A huge church, a small church, I probably could have handled. But I thought, like I can come in and I can just redo everything. No, you’ll burn out, you’ll die.Margie:

 

How does then call fit into this picture?Eden:

 

That’s the beautiful part. Is that beautiful and annoying? But beautiful and annoying because for most of my life I knew I had a call to do something for.Margie:

 

God, Because your dad was a pastor right.Eden:

 

No my father-in-law. My dad was a business owner, but we were raised in the church and my mom was a treasurer. Anytime the doors were open, we were there.Margie:

 

Anytime the doors were open.Eden:

 

We were there Every time the doors were closed. We were there opening the doors. So we were constantly there and but my life, I always had sensed that I had a call. And the difficult thing is that my mom, when she was younger, living in Mexico, she had her own salvation moment and she in those moments said to God, I will dedicate one of my children to serve you, and didn’t tell me that was me.Eden:

 

And so it was. At one point I realized like I think I might have been manipulated into being a pastor, or talked into being a pastor and manipulating is a wrong word comparing to your mom, but like I felt like maybe maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a pastor, Maybe that’s why all these things are going wrong. But through the work that I have done and just taking a deep look at myself and my abilities and my you know and my desires, the call to ministry is the most prominent thing, and so, even when I’ve tried to run from it, I always go back to but how does this line up with this? How does this? How can I keep, how can I salvage this to use, to still continue to do this? And so God has just never let me go.Eden:

 

Even when I asked him to let me go, even when I begged him to let me go, he’s not let me go, and that has been what has kept me still in ministry. And you know, regarding the future, what my plans are. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what my next assignment will look like. I don’t know if I’ll be here for 20 years. It could happen. Those things happen time to time. But I know that, regardless of where I am, my calling to minister to be a help to other people, to help other people find God or understand God better, that will somehow still be involved, because that’s just the way it’s always been involved, because that’s just the way it’s always been.Margie:

 

And so my call has just been one that I can’t get out of, even though I’ve tried to get out of it.Eden:

 

It’s one that I can’t ignore. All the doors that have opened all narrowed down to this, and I can’t, and at this point I don’t want to. I want to stay as a pastor for my life. That would be ideal, whether or not you know, with what goes on in churches, with what goes on with denominations, with what goes on with cultures, whether or not I’ll get to do this full time at this point in this age. It seems a little unlikely. But that’s only because my pessimistic side of me, which is dominant of my pessimistic side, is like well, this is kind of not going well, so it might not work out. But the the optimistic side of me, the inspired side of me, is like well, regardless, it’ll work out and you’ll still be doing something, whether or not you’re doing it full time or you’re doing it kind of just as a person, that it’ll still be happening in one way or the other.Margie:

 

Right. Right, because your call comes from God and you’re serving God’s purposes and work in the world. And how that looks is it depends on where God plants your feet and the circumstances around you, but the call does not change. Right Whether it’s a denominational thing or something else, and I know you also coach, so you’ve dabbled with that and that’s a helping form of ministry as well.Eden:

 

Yeah, I found coaching to be the glue that has kept a lot of what I do, or a lot of myself, together, but it’s made what I do sustainable. So whenever I start something new, I go through the coaching process of well, why am I doing this, what are the challenges and what are the ways to make this viable, to keep this going for a long time, because I could try to start something and make it exciting and really expensive. Start something and make it exciting and really expensive, but then if I leave and it’s it doesn’t stick around, then that was a failure, and so I’ve. I’ve learned in my in my time in ministry you don’t leave a place with a hole, you don’t leave a place with a vacancy. You train up others to be able to take that on, and so here it’s the same thing it’s I don’t want to overdo it under deliver, leave and then leave everybody with a crater of what was a youth ministry or what was an associate ministry, and so, yeah, Right, right.Margie:

 

Well, I appreciate your sharing with us. I’m really intrigued that you some of what helps you find your way back was some Orthodox-related practices and some of it was some self-care practices. I know for me I had a spiritual director who heavily Ignatian-ed me and I tend to, you know, use some of that because it’s very big picture kinds of questions about who you are and what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and and who you are before God. I really like that you have the the self-care piece, because we just we need to take care of. It’s a stewardship issue for us to take care of who we are before God. This is the body that God has given to us and we need to take care of it mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically all of those things together. If you could leave us with one thought, what would be the big thing that you would like to leave us with?Eden:

 

Start small. Anything you do, start small. I had a tendency of going big with everything right at the beginning and realize, just that’s not, I can’t you, if I, if you can’t run a marathon after sitting on a couch for 10 years, it just won’t go well. And so the thing I’ve learned to be the most effective for for my, you know, recovery and and then, but then just of just of consistent life habits, is just start small, have a small goal and just do that consistently, because doing something once 100 times is better than doing something 20 times really intensely.Eden:

 

And so if, over the span of a year, you only worked out four or five times for three hours at a time, that’s not good. That’s not great. But if you worked out 365 days a year for 10 minutes a day, that’s significantly more, and I don’t know how significantly. I’m bad at math, but the issue is you have to start small and sustainable and build on those things as you get better and better. Like one of my hobbies do your hobbies, find a hobby that you like and truly do it.Eden:

 

One of the things that has brought me a lot of life has been just creative storytelling, like writing, just writing stories, and they have no purpose. They don’t have an audience. There’s no reason to these stories that I have. I have like 30, 40 stories in my notes that I’ve just been working on for the past year and I like them. I think they’re funny, I think they’re cute. My wife thinks they’re funny, but I don’t do them because I want to make a living with it. I just do them because it excites me.Eden:

 

I have an idea, I write it out, I look at it and like that was a good idea or that that didn’t work, and then I just start over and I have a practice I have if I could leave you with two things is have a set of practices every day, that these are the things that are non-negotiable. These are the things you have to do. Everything else is negotiable and if you can build on those things you can, you can do a lot more. For me, one of those practices is writing you just every day, you spend some time writing and I was never a writer before I could write.Eden:

 

You know, I have a master’s degree. I’ve written pages of research for that degree, but I never saw myself as a creative writer or a storyteller until I just started writing. And, ironically, one of the first things I did at the beginning of my recovery of burnout was I had an idea for a story and I just started writing it and I gained so much joy from it that I kept doing it. And then I got distracted with another idea and I started writing. And so, like that, that first story that I started sits on my computer as a, as a document. It’s just like are you going to, are you going to finish this?Eden:

 

But, like working on all these other stories because it’s it’s still just something that I enjoy. But. But I’m like working on all these other stories because it’s it’s still just something that I enjoy, but that that open document doesn’t cause me anxiety Like some of these other things that cause me anxiety that are left on open because it brings me joy. It brings, it, excites me, it’s something fun that I get to do, and I think it’s important that pastors specifically engage in their creative outlets, without trying to turn it into a sermon, without trying to turn it into a Bible study, because your pastors generally are creative people. You have to kind of have to be creative. So engage in that, because that’s it’s not just for work. Not everything you do has to be work. So start small and not everything has to be work would be the things that I would leave you with.Margie:

 

I like it, I like it and I. I was the person who made fun of people with a craft room and I I didn’t get it until I got into. I took a class on stained glass about nine or ten years ago and I have like saws and electrical, all kinds of my. I have a workshop. That’s just a beast that’s awesome of a workshop I sold.Eden:

 

I sold a house to a lady who the whole process she was like I need to have a yarn room, I need to have a room that’s specifically this big for yarn. And I was getting tired of looking for houses with a big enough room for a yarn room and I was like why, why do you need a yarn room? And then when I sold her the house and we moved in and I saw all the quilts that she made, I was like, oh, good lord, yeah, that’s why, like, that’s incredible, it’s beautiful, yeah and it, it.Margie:

 

It’s part of restoring your soul, it’s part of christ leading you to the quiet waters and the green grass and just chill there for a minute and think about one thing, just that, and only that, which is our brains go in too many directions at once and that’s fatiguing. So that’s what I learned, anyway. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being willing to come on and to share, and I know it will be helpful to those who listen. So thank you very much.Eden:

 

Thank you for having me.Margie:

 

Hey, friends, to those who listen, so thank you very much. Thank you for having me. 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 ministry leaders.Margie:

 

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 and 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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