How to Avoid Burnout in Pastoral Ministry


What leads to pastoral burnout in ministry? In today’s Seven Minute Seminary video, Dr. Anthony Headley explains the commons factors leading to pastoral burnout, and then suggests steps that a leader can take to live and work in a ministry context that thrives and flourishes.

Three Components in Pastoral Burnout

  1. Emotional exhaustion
  2. De-personalization in work
  3. Low sense of personal accomplishment

Three Steps to Avoiding Burnout

  1. Stop regularly to take stock of your own life
  2. Walk with others who will be social support
  3. Take your human limitations seriously

“The church Fathers often spoke of Otium Sanctum, ‘holy leisure.’ It refers to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves. With our tendency to define people in terms of what they produce, we would do well to cultivate “holy leisure” with a determination that is ruthless to our datebooks.” (Richard Foster)

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Dr. Anthony Tony J. Headley is a psychologist and professor of counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary. He conducts seminars for clergy and other groups in the United States and internationally. He is the recipient of the University of Kentucky’s Office of Minority Affairs’ Architect of Dream Award. He also received the National Institutes of Mental Health Trainee Award. He and his wife, Adina, have three children.