The thrill is gone
It's gone away from me
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away from me
Although, I'll still live on
But so lonely I'll be - B.B. King
One of the major causes of pastoral failure is burnout. Having worked in the secular world for years before becoming a pastor, I really wasn't prepared for the onslaught that burnout is.
For example, this is the week before Vacation Bible School, one of my favorite weeks of the year. Being able to relax and enjoy helping kids learn about Jesus, and even helping some begin their journey of faith with Him is usually a thrill. Physically tiring - but emotionally rewarding.
The danger in vocational ministry it seems to me is not in the special event periods like VBS, but in the everyday, week in and week out routine. People placed in your care, people you are accountable to God for - are needing to find God's will, or His peace, or strength and you are the bridge for many until their own faith has "legs" to stand on.
So within the routine, you take their hurts to the Father in prayer, and you reach out to them. This all happens while you are preparing multiple messages, working on the next leap forward for the church, examining future small group materials, missions opportunities, publicity campaigns and on and on.
And while in the secular job, you can drop your briefcase inside the front door, here your heart won't let you.
Then there's your wife and family that you so often give the leftovers of your good humor to.
Right now, the thrill is gone.
Well, there's always that promising blues guitarist career to fall back on.
So what do we do about it? (my son Sean's favorite question as a toddler)
1. Stay close to God at the exclusion of all others. You can't give away what you don't have.
2. When you feel it coming, take a break. Maybe it's a day, maybe it's a week, but usually there's a way to spend some time doing something totally unrelated to church.
3. Grow replacement appendages. :) Make it part of your mission to grow strong pastoral help in deacons or family ministry teams.
So I'll be practicing what I preach this week and taking some time. You should too.