Every job has its stresses and stressors. The little and big things that pile up until it’s all you can do to just keep going. But ministry seems to be in a class of its own when it comes to experience stress or burnout. Ministry is the only vocation that combines calling, giftedness, faith, and friends into a tight knot.
And because of the kind of care pastors offer their congregants it’s not a job that can be done well when you’re constantly in a state of stress. While some stress will always be constant, it’s helpful to remember that getting too stressed out is not helpful for doing the work you’ve been called to do.
So how can you tell if you are stressed out or just feeling a little stressed?
Here are 5 signs that your stress might be a little more serious than your average workday stressor:
1) The little things bother you more than they should. If you start to notice that common little annoyances feel like bigger problems, that’s a sign of being burned out.
2) You feel emotionless or numb. Not everything makes you feel something, but if stop feeling any kind of high or low and feel as if you are just on cruise control you may be stressed out.
3) Your motivation is gone and you’ve stopped being productive. If you find yourself unable to do even the ministry work you love or that when you do find the motivation it takes you 4 times as long to complete, you are stressed out.
4) You find time spent with people is draining. Some of us are introverts and experience this as normal, but when you are stressed out being around people can feel almost unbearable. As if they’re demanding something from you that you do not feel equipped to give.
5) The things that used to energize you no longer work. If sleep, time off, and enjoying your hobbies no longer feel relaxing, you are not just stressed you are stressed out.
These aren’t the only signs of being stressed out or on the verge of burnout. But knowing these signs is an important step in making certain you are taking care of yourself well. If you find that one or more of these signs fits you, now is the time to take action by seeing a medical professional or a Christian counselor. Even talking to a close circle of friends can be helpful. Pastoral ministry is important work and as a pastor, you owe it to yourself, your family, your church, and your relationship with God to make certain you are as healthy as possible.