Margie Bryce

Your leadership coach
and self-care advocate

S3 Ep86: Part 2: From Burnout to Balance

The Crabby Pastor
S3 Ep86: Part 2: From Burnout to Balance

Do you ever feel like the pressure of ministry is weighing you down? This episode is your lifeline! Join me, Margie Bryce, for a soul-refreshing conversation on self-care for ministry leaders. I’m bringing you a wealth of wisdom on building resilience through hobbies, recreational activities, and focusing on single tasks that give your brain a much-needed rest from the pressures of ministry. We’ll also talk about the invaluable support of a coach or spiritual director and I’ll be sharing a list of suggestions on how to rally that support from your congregations.

As we unpack a PDF file detailing 50 ways to Support Your Pastor across five dimensions of wellness, we’ll redefine what success in ministry looks like – and it’s not just about numbers and money. Above all, I’ll drop a reminder we all need to hear from time to time: our main job is to pass the baton along to the next generation of followers of Jesus. Get ready to soak in an episode filled with insights and encouragement tailored for those who’ve answered the call to ministry.

For more information on the transformative Ministerial Coaching Initiative, generously supported by the Lilly Foundation and facilitated through Point Loma Nazarene’s Center for Pastoral Leadership, CLICK HERE. 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.

I love scouring around to find great content to share, and am always interested in feedback, OR 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!


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Find regular support on my Facebook group by clicking HERE.
Connect with me about COACHING and Workshops on self-care HERE.


Speaker 1: 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.

Hey there, before we get started on today’s episode, I want to give you this opportunity to enhance your self-care. Part of self-care is having another individual come alongside you whether you’re looking at a coach, a spiritual director or whatever means you have, so that you’re not walking this journey alone, alone, that you have another person walking with you, and that is the ministerial coaching initiative. I’ve been a part of that now for this past year and as a coach, I have enjoyed walking alongside ministry leaders. This is a Lilly Foundation grant that is providing coaching through Point Loma Nazarene, their Center for Pastoral Leadership.

So what I’m going to do is put a link in the show notes for where you can go to get more information. Tell them the Crabby pastor sent you. They’ll laugh about that,but tell them that I sent you. So this is one of the avenues where I provide coaching for ministry leaders and you know I do it independently as well and through several other places. So I wanted to offer this to you because maybe you’d like to try on coaching and maybe you’d like to make a commitment to do this is eight sessions and there is a cost involved. It’s a good deal because I’m always above the good deal always. So you know if you’re going to try on coaching, you don’t want to try it on just once. You know I’m going to have one session to see how it goes. I think you’re at least going to benefit from three to four to get a sense of whether it’s a good fit and how it’s going to operate for you.

Because coaching is its own thing. It’s not exactly therapy, it’s not exactly a lot of stuff, but it’s its own entity that helps you discover and empowers you to discover some new solutions to existing situations or how you want to manage yourself in the midst of your ministry context. So maybe you want to check this out. The link is in the show notes. It will be there through the end of the year and then the program will start in January. So that’s why it’ll be here for that long, so I hope you’ll consider this.

I’ve been working through a PDF file that says 50 ways to support your pastor across five dimensions of well-being, and I worked on a good share of it in our last episode, I want to remind us that this connects back to episode 80, where the people at West Path, which is an agency of the United Methodist Church, identified five dimensions of well-being physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and social and these 50 ways are divided into each one of these dimensions and I got through most of it, but what I wanted to do was finish up the social dimension here, because that’s it’s a really important area for you to consider how it is that you’re supporting your own well-being.

Again, I want to remind you that this document is available in the show notes, and I will be sure to put that there so that you have your own copy where maybe you want to discuss some of this with your, with your people in leadership. I wanted to go through this social dimension, and I think what I want to start with this… and this is not necessarily in order that it’s on their happy sheet here, and again, I do want to remind us that I think. I think he’s applied broadly to whatever denomination or tribe or that you hang with wherever God has planted your feet in ministry, let’s say. I think these apply very broadly to the life of ministry leaders and I’m still pushing back on the 24-7 model that we have pushed into and because I think we’re overly pushed into levels of success and frequently those levels of success are connected to some books saying nickels and noses, some say butts in the pew and bucks. That’s another one where it’s you know, it’s the money raised, it’s certainly the number of people. I mean that’s important.

On the other hand, it’s good to remember…and I was really reminded of this when I listened to Christine Caine in a Passing the Baton sermon that she gave. It’s like 11 years ago. Because I’m listening to it I’m thinking who is this? I don’t, I’m not even was never familiar with her. She’s Australian and offered a really great word as it talks about how you’re passing your message along. Your main job is that you are a person who is responsible to pass a baton along to the next generation of followers of Jesus. So that was a great, great reminder about what success really is about… being sure that the baton in the race is passed to the person coming up behind you and who then is going to go on ahead of you in the race.

So, anyway, I just want to remind us about success and to have that improper perspective for self-care reasons, because you want to pace yourself accordingly. You can’t move far and fast carrying a very, very heavy load. That’s a recipe for burnout actually. So, that has been my passion and concern, after having served in pastoral ministry in a couple of different churches where I brought some revitalization and got the people up and serving because I kept thinking well, what, what value would Jesus have in having a church that is just dotting its eyes and crossing its tees and not really serving its community, not really serving the purposes of God?

You know, God will just kind of let you dwindle away because God’s way nicer than I would be, I might be smoting, and thinking it’s going to motivate people, which is just ridiculous, I know. But and that is why I am not God right, for sure, for sure, for sure. So God’s kindness leads us to repentance. Right, keep that in mind.

Okay, I’m going to go back to these social dimensions, because you’re saying what? Just get back to the list. And these are the ones I want to yammer on about. In the list of social dimensions, near the end it says again these are kind of instructions to people who are in charge of caring for the pastor in any local congregation Here goes: Avoid scheduling church meetings or activities requiring the pastor’s presence more than two nights per week. Now you know, again, this is in honor of pace yourself. Pace yourself After having very long workdays and then they roll into evenings that can very easily become at least two 12-hour days. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve lived it before, and that just anything beyond that is just more than what you need to do.

And that kind of fits in with the one that was from the emotional dimension episode talking about identifying and working with the pastor to identify which church programs and activities truly require the pastor’s presence because in some cases it doesn’t. We’re trying not to be character-driven or you know whatever. Have an individual pastor, just be all that and a bag of chips, because it’s too easy for people to get very attached to whoever the pastor is. And then it becomes about following the pastor, and any good pastor knows that you want your people to follow Jesus. Right, not the pastor, as much as we secretly don’t want to admit something like that. But it’s nice, you know, it’s nice to get the accolades, it’s nice to have the respect, but really you want your people to follow Jesus.

So we’re talking about how the pastor’s time is used here, and this advocates no more than two nights a week. Should the pastors have to haul themselves out to attend which events? Not only that, but many pastors have families. And when the kids get to be a certain age some friends have called those the busy years you know where you feel like you’re just driving kids and spectating. There was one year, I think I boy, I was so glad when golf season came because all I had to do was pick them up at the 18th hole. You know, that’s it, as I had gone through oh gosh, basketball and, and I had gone through what else? Hockey and I had gone through baseball season, yeah. So when it was all in one year so, yeah, golf was a treat, I just picked them up at the end, not that I didn’t want to see my kid golf, but you know, I mean that alone is taxing, and you can say, well, I’ll just dump that on my, on my spouse?

Yeah, no, you want to help, you want to be up, you want to be a part of that, you want to see that. So, anyway, avoid more than two nights a week is what they’re advocating for in this document.

Okay, welcome the pastor’s spouse and family as a part of the congregation and community, without unrealistic expectations or demands such as expecting the pastor’s children to always be perfectly behaved, or expecting the spouse to be an unpaid staff member. Oh, my gosh, somebody out there is applauding that that actually made it into ink on a paper and I, yeah, I think that expectation of an unpaid staff member, you know, was like oh, you can play the piano, wink, wink. You know, I don’t get this something-for-nothing deal that some churches seem to have, and I, I experienced that many years ago when I was asked well, you can be on my staff, what’s the least amount that we can pay you? I thought this was a rude question, wasn’t it? Had I been a little older, you know, female, I might have said something, but I wasn’t, and I just felt like I had to go home and calculate something and I felt very pressured because I thought if I get this wrong, I’m going to, you know, not get the position. Or if I, then, if I state an amount that I think is appropriate pay, I might not get the job. Or maybe I should just say, oh, you don’t have to pay me at all, which then has your congregation not ascribing a proper value to what you bring to the table.

So you know, that might not be the same in some nonprofit startups or that kind of thing, but it was an undue pressure. It was pressure for, you know, wink, wink. How cheap can we get you? Which I think is an incredibly rude question. And the rude thing is a big deal because it’s love is patient, love is kind, love is not rude, just saying.

Let’s see, encourage the pastor’s participation in a clergy accountability support group and allow him or her time during the work week to participate. So, pastors, if you are attending a clergy accountability or support group in some fashion, that counts as your work hours. That’s part of what you are being, I guess I want to say paid for. You know that’s, that is a part of your work is to stay connected to other pastors and be accountable and get the support that you need from other people and have a place that you can again process, and you do not have to get off the clock to do that. Just saying.

Encourage the pastor to socialize with others outside the church in quotes, family with whom he or she can step outside the pastoral role for a period of time. And this is important, this is a self-care thing. What happens when you socialize… that kind of goes hand in hand with the next one. So let me just include that for the sake of conversation. What’s not really a conversation, it’s a monologue. This is a monologue here, but for the sake of my monologue here, understand that the social events with church members, although it’s fun for everyone is, are not always truly social events for the pastor, who can be pulled into the pastoral role at any time. And that’s a thing.

That is definitely a thing that you get pulled into a pastoral role when you are with church members, not always, not 100% of the time, because I know somebody saying, well, I, you know my doesn’t work that way for me. Well, yay for that and for you about that. But in many cases what happens is, you know, you put the pastor hat off and then you put the pastor hat on and you know it’s a matter of am I now on or off? And we need some off time. We need time when we can take the pastoral hat off. So that’s why it’s important to socialize with others outside of your church family.

They also say to respect the pastor’s time and set aside to spend time with their family. Our first line of ministry is our family. Really, I can’t tell you how many pastoral families have really suffered because pastors have set those things aside to the detriment of their families and their marriages. So you want to, for sure, support that. Support the pastor in that.

Also. Here’s another one support the pastor in getting out of town regularly, particularly when serving in a small town, so they can engage in activities outside the church’s direct mission field. Just saying you need to step back from the work environment. Yes, it’s a calling, yes, it’s a vocation. It’s also a demanding one and you need to just step back for a moment. I think about when Jesus stepped back from the throngs of people wanting stuff from him and went up to the mountain and prayed. Now, maybe that wasn’t social, but maybe he brought a disciple or two. Then it is sort of that’s a bit of a stretch, but you kind of get the picture. Even Jesus stepped back for a minute and had to come up for air. And if Jesus had to come up for air, then I think we do as well. We do as well.

And I’m going to finish up with this one. I know nobody ever encouraged me to do this… but encourage the pastor to engage in hobbies and enjoyable recreational activities outside the church setting, and this is a facet of self-care that I label as create and dream. You need to have a hobby or something where, when you do it, you lose track of time, and that’s because you can only focus on that one thing, not on the 50 or more things at the church that are calling for your attention. And by focusing on just one thing, actually, neuroscience says your brain rests a bit from the demand of a heavy load or lots of things on your to-do list. All of that becomes for a time, non-existent and you can just focus on one thing exclusively.

So I’m going to leave that there. There’s way more on that list and maybe you’d like a copy so that you can see that someone actually did write these things down. People in official capacity, people who care deeply for the well-being of those who serve in churches, and church plants, and so these are suggestions. I guess I think they’re more than suggestions. Really, I think it’s more of a list of.

This is the way it ought to run folks and how to support your ministry leader, your main pastor, in your church. So maybe this episode and the one before is something you want to share with church board members. You could use a podcast for a discussion, along with the 50 Ways sheet, and use that to talk through the things on the lists here that you want to own and maybe the things that you don’t and talk through why that is, and that way you can get the support that you need from your congregation leaders.

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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