Chaos is where God is most profound. Have you ever been there? I know that for most of my youth ministry career I felt that I was somewhere in this realm. I would think that burnout was evident. I thought this to be true because there were so many pastors around me who were dealing with this. One time I went to a conference with Cobb and one of the other interns. What we didn't know was that the conference was for pastors and their spouses. So, needless to say, we were kind of on the outs because neither I nor the other intern was married, and Cobb did not have his wife there.
There was this one breakout session where half of the pastors sat in a room with half of the spouses – and of course you were not in a group with your own spouse. The session was for the spouses to give their perspective about ministry and what it means to be married to a pastor and doing ministry in that capacity. It was amazing. I have never seen so much emotion in one room. The burnout was evident. There was so much that the pastors were putting onto their spouses, in terms of pressure and expectations. And the most astonishing part was that the pastors, for the most part, did not have much of a clue at all. And these were some good, seasoned pastors – peeps who had been doing ministry for yrears... successfully!
It really opened my eyes. If there is one reason why I need to stay away from burnout its to keep my family sane. When you do not take care of your should then others are going to get hurt. You cannot use the excuse that you are burning out because your job is too stressful or the senior pastor gives you too much to do or whatever. You need to take responsibility of your life and priorities. After witnessing that crazy breakout session I remember talking to Cobb about burnout issues. He has never experienced it. And the reason he stays away from burnout is the relationships he has chosen to have with mentors, the way he spends his time – putting aside time for God and family in the madness of running around, and knowing how to say “no” to stuff that is not within his calling.
Are you close to burnout – or even been close? If so, have your reevaluated to see how you got there. Cobb never let us get to that point while under his care on staff. He knew the signs. I knew that he was there to look out for me and so I guess I pushed the limits of my own sanity at times. Now, with him hundreds of miles away, I still stay far from burnout because I know how to do so. Do you know? If not, who could you ask? It's worth your time.