Out of the woods
Steve's burnout bout ended as unceremoniously as it began. A two-week vacation of hiking and camping in the Montana Rockies certainly helped. So did the slower pace of summer ministry.
"I didn't radically change my devotional life or get rid of three sins," Steve says.
Nor did he go for counseling—which many pastors in his situation find helpful—but not for lack of opportunities. Never have there been better days to be burned out. An entire industry of ministries targeting burned-out pastors has grown up in recent years. It now seems as if it is more professionally attractive to counsel a pastor than to be a pastor.
Louis McBurney, a psychiatrist, founded Marble Retreat in the early seventies. Sequestered in the Colorado Rockies just west of Aspen, Marble Retreat is a two-week program for morally fallen and emotionally weary pastors. McBurney recently told me that in one week he had received four calls from people wanting advice to set up counseling retreats or ministries to pastors. When he began in 1973, he knew of only one other nondenominational ministry specifically targeting pastors. Today, dozens of parachurch ministries offer counseling, newsletters, spiritual retreats, and other programs for pastors. A booklet (copublished by LEADERSHIP ) given away at a Promise Keepers pastors' conference listed 44 such ministries. There is even a network of ministries and counseling centers that work primarily with pastors called "CareGivers Forum."
In the New Testament, pastors got thrown in prison for preaching the gospel. Today, pastors end up on the therapist's couch instead.
But the current hubbub about the burnout rate among pastors drowns out what ...1