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?


“When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles

and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…

…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle

bottle paddle battle.”

From Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss



Isn’t this sometimes how being a parent feels?

Don’t you sometimes wonder how to cut through the deluge of advice and information?

Especially, in the day-to-day activity of living life as a parent?


Below we offer a few goals to consider that might simplify your thinking.

Almost any job we have at any point in our life encourages us to set goals. Every school we attend has goals for us to reach. As adults, we usually have goals, both big and small, that we would like to accomplish. Sometimes my goal for the day is just to get out of bed. And maybe get dressed. Later on.

When I think back to my early years of being a parent, if you had asked me what my goals for my children were, I would probably have said “Oh, I just want them to be happy!” or “As long as they are successful at what they do!” How many of us have said that at one time or another? I think probably quite a few.

I am not suggesting that happiness and success are bad goals, but they are kind of vague. Well, actually they are very vague. Ensuring our children’s happiness as a goal is pretty unrealistic. And how do you actually measure success? And are happiness and success really that important to live your life well?

As we know, hindsight is usually 20-20 (my children are grown) and our life experiences can definitely change our opinions. So with that perspective in mind, here are four goals for parenting derived from slogging through the trenches as well as thinking and listening to God.  Hopefully, this list will be an encouragement for those of you still in the parenting game.

1.  We need to prepare our children to love and to be loved.

Wow, that is different from wanting them to be happy, isn’t it? Notice the action verb “prepare” in this goal. This implies that there are some actions we can take as parents. So, how do we actually do this, prepare our children to participate well in the act of loving? The best answer is found in our previous parenting blog 

If we are attempting to love God well, love others well, and understand ourselves well, we will most likely model love to our children on a daily basis. This prepares them to love and to be loved. I like to think of this as the “grace” goal.

2.  We need to teach our children to follow rules and set limits.

This is pretty self-explanatory. To get along in the world we need to understand that wherever we are, there will be rules. If a child understands that the rules are for his protection, he may be more inclined to obey (although he will rarely let you know this by his actions). Children also need to know how to protect themselves by setting boundaries. As children grow, they should be taught to set appropriate boundaries. Parents can model this behavior for their children by the way they interact with rules and set personal boundaries. I like to think of this as the “truth” goal.

3.  We need to empower our children to perform the daily tasks of living.

What this means is that over time we transfer power to our children. To do this, a parent must understand a little bit about age-appropriate activities and a lot about their child’s own unique personality. Empowering children involves exploring solutions, having faith in your child and letting go. When we help children explore solutions and make their own decisions, it gives them the message “I can do this!” I like to think of this as the “anti-entitlement” goal.

4.  We need to prepare our children to make a decision to follow Christ.

As followers of Christ, and as parents, one of our greatest desires is to see our children become true, devoted followers of Christ. This requires input from several different sources. We need to involve our family within a community of believers so that our children will have various Godly adult influences in their lives. We as parents need to provide spiritual direction and guidance for our children. This means that we must be continually growing and learning in our own relationship with Christ. And of course, we need to daily model our faith, to reflect the image of God to our children. Most adults form their conception of how lovable they are to God based on how lovable they were to their parents. I like to think of this as the “Supreme” goal.

I think that striving for these basic goals for our children and achieving them in some measure, might actually lead our children to happiness and success the way God might define those terms.

Stay tuned for some thoughts on how to implement these goals.



What are some ways you have empowered your children?

What are some of your experiences with preparing your children to follow Christ?

What have you seen other parents do that worked? Or didn’t work?