Do you want to fail in ministry? Here are 5 sure fire ways to end up burned out.

stress face1.  Focus on the Urgent and Not Important Things
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey points out that many leaders focus on the wrong things. Leaders can be tied up in the Urgent and the Not Important. A good leader learns to focus on the Not Urgent and Important things.

One place this shows up in ministry is training and discipling leaders. As a church planter, discipler, pastor or ministry leader it is very easy to allow the most urgent loudest voices determine your priorities. Jesus pulled away at some of the most urgent times to focus on his men. Train your leaders by focusing on the Important and not-urgent task of investing in a few young leaders. It will pay off down the road.

Solutions: Set some goals and boundaries and ask someone you admire how they handle the brush fires?

2.  Avoid Times of Renewal

I deal with pastors and worship leaders who seem to forget that they work during worship! But rarely have time to worship themselves. Certainly there are times during our worship services that renew us as leaders. If you don’t have additional time to renew, you are in danger of slowly draining your tank.

Solutions: Take time to renew each week. Take a sabbath rest on a morning without your phone. Journal, read, pray, play.

Tim Keller – wisdom and sabbath rest

3.  Forget you have a Family
If you forget you have a family you will end up having to do lots of work later. Just as a workaholic needs his career to make his life meaningful, many pastors find meaning in success in ministry. Families suffer, marriages die, children rebel. On the other hand a family that is healthy can be a blessing to you. Look out! Your wife and children need you! Unfortunately the signs are not always easy to see!

Solutions: Ask your wife how you should change your schedule to spend more time with the family. Then get someone other than her to hold you accountable to this priority.

Answers for Pastor wives = Boundaries in Ministry-

4.  Make sure everything comes across your deskmicromanagement
If you have started a new ministry you may think that your ministry can’t survive without your insight and vision. (Remember #1) Great leaders learn to focus on training people who are able to take the baton and run the race with the team. If you have to review every piece of information, every ministry plan, go to every event, and personally oversee every leader, you haven’t learned to lead.

Solutions: Sit down with your leadership team individually and clarify their responsibilities and what ways you will give oversight. Prepare a contingency plan should things not go according to plan. Determine beforehand what balls you are willing to pick up. People will fail. Let people learn from mistakes. Use the opportunity for their training. Plan debriefing into every project.

Audio clip from John Piper

John Piper – Post – Pastors don’t micromanage your church

5.  Never let anyone know you.

The great american cowboy riding off into the sunset! We love that loner rugged individual. Sorry this isn’t Jesus’ model of leadership. If no one knows you, get ready to fall hard. You are a target! The enemy loves to isolate you from the pack and bring you down. Secret sin. Prideful independence. Isolated pain and hurt. All lead to failure.

Solutions: Pray for a Jonathan or a Barnabus. No one will grow without having a partner and encourager! Cultivate a life that understands the gospel! When I understand that I am both a sinner in need of mercy and a son loved completely by my heavenly father I don’t have to protect my reputation. Freedom and Openness to others only happens when I can take my mask and armor off.


So what would you add to the list? What have you seen in your experience? What Solutions can you share?

9 thoughts on “How To Fail in Ministry in Five Easy Steps

  1. Stephanie says:

    This is great Buddy! Thanks for sharing. My struggles have been with #2 and #5 more than the others. It is so easy to keep people in your church at arm’s length-especially after you’ve been hurt. Accountability is so very important!

  2. Nancy Higgins says:

    Wow! Good word, Buddy! I use #1 a lot with people I counsel to help them set better boundaries.

  3. Buddy Eades
    Buddy Eades says:

    Thanks Nathan, I think we all struggle to control things out of fear. That makes micromanaging a strong weakness for leaders. It seems like a discipleship ministry should be a good place to learn to delegate and allow others to mature. However the weakness isn’t in knowing what to do but believing God is enough as we face times where people fail. I micromanage situations because I forget God is in control and at work,

  4. Buddy Eades
    Buddy Eades says:

    Hey Stephanie,
    Yeah I agree the hurts that ministry brings sometimes makes me want to avoid allowing others close. That is why I need those times of restoration to feed my heart with the truth that God loves me. Knowing and “preaching the gospel to my heart” is always good. Then I can risk being hurt, knowing I am loved by my Father!

  5. Nancy Higgins says:

    I heard something this past weekend that was really helpful to me regarding #2, times of renewal. The speaker, Priscilla Shirer, referred to “sabbath margins” or making spaces for rest and renewal when it is hard to commit to a whole day of rest. Unfortunately, in American culture we are all so busy that sometimes the best we can do is a little Sabbath here and there in our day.

  6. Buddy Eades
    Buddy Eades says:

    I agree Nancy. We forget to remember our need for restoration. The rhythms of creation are planted deep. Six days you shall work. One day set aside is important for all. Those who work on the Lords Day cannot forget to set aside time to renew. My wife was recently working on Sunday’s and it began to have a toll. My transition from WDA campus staff to church ministry was also an adjustment. Before campus was my weekly ministry and Sunday was my time of worship and a different type of service. It was a rest from my weekly work. Pastors and leaders forget to break AND rest not only physically but spiritually on a day other than Sunday. Many time it can also be short breaks throughout the week. A Monday morning. A great resource for this was a recent interview with Eugene Peterson by Gabe Lyons. It was interesting how they ordered their times of rest.–session-practices-videos-now.aspx

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