May you rest in what you can offer your church and embrace the limitations that allow others to aid in your neediness.
By Jesse Masson
There are many needs within the church, and with those come many demands. Pastor, you know this because you experience this. It’s much more than administrative tasks, calling visitors, coffee with concerned members, or sermon writing. You aren’t just giving time but also efforts full of emotional and spiritual investments.
I am not (nor have I ever been) a pastor, so I don’t know the exact abilities or limitations you experience. However, as a counselor, I understand that any task anyone does requires energy. It really becomes a question of what has my attention, and why am I motivated to engage. In fact, I remind my clients frequently that every behavior or action is motivated by an emotion.Burnout is possible in any profession. Let’s not be fooled to believe that just because one is in ministry he's immune to burnout. — @JesseMasson Click To Tweet
Perhaps there is an underlying fear of not “doing enough” or “being good enough,” or you struggle with imposter syndrome. So, unless you’re new to ministry, you understand that your time can feel like holding sand in a slotted spoon. (If you’re new to ministry, take heed.)
Burnout is possible in any profession. Let’s not be fooled to believe that just because one is in ministry he’s immune to burnout. And remember, the Holy Spirit doesn’t take a vacation just because the pastor has arrived at the office. We don’t actually think this, but we sometimes act in this manner when we forget our limitations.
There’s a great blessing in our limitations. You read that correctly. It’s quite intentional that God created us with limitations. A strong leader is not one who is limitless (or without vulnerabilities). Rather, a strong leader is one who recognizes and functions within his limitations—a leader who can embrace his limitations.
The blessing in limitations is that it points out where help is needed (or lacking) and prompts one to need another person. God created us for connection with others, and that means an interdependency with that community. Ultimately, one’s awareness of limitations drives the soul to be in need of a Savior. Can you think of a better way to pastor your church, than to exemplify your God-given limits so that you can connect (not use) and empower others to serve alongside a shared ministry?A strong leader is one who recognizes and functions within his limitations—a leader who can embrace his limitations. — @JesseMasson Click To Tweet
One morning while sitting in our living room, my wife shared with me a passage from her Bible study that was encouraging and greatly applicable for any church leader. In Exodus 18, Moses is feeling pressure in the ministry God had given him. But in God’s grace, He used Jethro’s wisdom to counsel Moses to have healthy boundaries to prevent burnout in ministry.
“’What you’re doing is not good,’ Moses’s father-in-law said to him. ‘You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone’” (Exodus 18:17-18, CSB).
Here we see three dynamics that transpose to help you flourish in the ministry God has for you:
- Be discerning enough to recognize your own limits
- Others have more to offer than what you have to give
- Empower the fellow members of your congregation to join in leading components of ministry
In short, humility is greater than capability.
Share the ministry
Fellow brothers and sisters are eager to help, and they have the same Holy Spirit to guide them in their ministry roles. If you can delegate leadership within the church, you will have the ability to keep your sanity and thrive in your calling. This also provides the opportunity for others to share in the joys of leading and serving, and it helps steward the growth of skills.
In fact, when there is not a sharing of ministry burdens among the saints, this can indirectly create a power dynamic between “those who do, and those who don’t.” Although unintentional, if a pastor holds all the expectations upon himself, people will view him as the “only one with answers” or “capable of doing.” This stunts the growth of the church member, and it further burdens the pastor to do all things. Burnout is right around the corner. Either the pastor will end unhealthily, or members will find another church congregation to serve.If a pastor holds all the expectations upon himself, people will view him as the “only one with answers” or “capable of doing.” This stunts the growth of church members. — @JesseMasson Click To Tweet
We are all created to work and flourish in the tasks God gives us. We might fearfully view ourselves as expendable or view our value as closely connected to what we can produce. But God does not. He takes joy in our eagerness, obedience, capabilities, and limitations, as they further knit us together in the body of Christ and beckon our spirits to His.
When Christians are searching for their identity in Christ, their limitations are one distinction that often gets overlooked. To be like Jesus also means to recognize that His time on earth was full of limitations. Not that He couldn’t empower His deity, but He willingly—and I think graciously for our sake—demonstrated His limitedness. Jesus needed to rest, take time away from others, eat and drink, fellowship, and weep.To be like Jesus also means to recognize that His time on earth was full of limitations. — @JesseMasson Click To Tweet
It’s acceptable to find yourself limited in what you can accomplish. You are in good company of our triune God, who is pleased with your preaching the gospel and with your resting with your family.
Pastor, may you have peace of mind as you rest in what you can offer your church and embrace the limitations that set your boundaries for others to aid in your neediness. You bless Jesus Christ by what you do well and by recognizing your limitations.