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A COOL LOOK AT BURNING OUT

Recently I wrote my one thousandth missionary-candidate evaluation for the Lutheran Church in America. The majority of the candidates were clergy and spouses. Based on the psychiatric and psychological evaluations I prepared, I am able to say the large majority of these clergy are well-adjusted, happy individuals who find satisfaction in their profession and have a positive outlook on life.

So much for the good news. The bad news is that not everything is copacetic in the ranks of what the Wall Street Journal calls "the Balm Squad." If I were to generalize on the basis of the pastors and priests I counsel, I'd be tempted to say most or all clergy experience professional dissatisfaction or have emotional problems. But that, fortunately, isn't so.

A little over a decade ago, Herbert Freudenberger coined the term burnout to describe a condition that occurs in members of the helping professions, including the clergy. In simplest terms, burnout was thought to occur when a professional works too ...

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