Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Although the following is written by me, it is not a page out of my journal in this season of my life. It is rather a poetic confession that portrays a composite of what is a temptation to most pastors of smaller churches. I will admit that the following confession has been true of my life on several occasions in three decades of ministry.

I must confess, my life is stressed.
My fuel gauge points to E.
I’m running out of energy
to do my ministry.

My church’s strife (just ask my wife)
has pinned me to the mat.
It seems the hurt of those I serve
is pain I must combat.

When members die, it makes me cry.
They are like family.
When they divorce, I’m tied in knots.
I can’t just let it be.

When critics snipe or elders gripe,
my world’s a living hell.
And when the offerings come up short,
I don’t sleep very well.

Somehow I must (or I will bust)
release my angst to God.
Unless I do they’ll bury me
six feet beneath the sod.

Confessions of a Stressed-out Pastor (Part 2)

I weary of the “oughts” and “shoulds”
when church folk make demands.
Although I know I’m called to care,
I wish they’d understand

that pastors have so little time
to really call their own.
We’re at the church more nights a week
than evenings spent at home.

Suggestions come most randomly
as if they know what’s best.
You should do this. You should do that.
Their memos dwarf my desk.

“You should be reading this great book.”
“Hey, should you have a chance,
you ought to check the website
of my cousin’s church in France.”

“You really should be in the know
of what MOPS hopes to do.”
“You ought to find a way to meet
my mother’s brother Lou.”

“Should you be in the office more?
My other pastor was.
He always was available
and you should too, because

you never know when crises strikes.
My son might get the flu.
My husband might come home depressed
and need to talk to you.”

By giving in, I’m burning out.
I’m stressed as stressed can be.
I want to shout “I’ve had enough.
Please do not “should” on me.”

But then I think “That’s not so nice.
Those words sound rather crude.
If only I could speak my mind
without it seeming rude.”

And then the Lord helped me discern
exactly what to do.
He said that I must share my heart
before my sermon’s through.

“Just humbly claim you’re wearing out
and need to change your ways.
Tell them you’re setting boundaries
and will stay home some days.

“Admit that you must listen more
to what the Lord will speak
instead of doing all they say
that leaves you feeling weak.”

And in my heart I felt assured
it was the Lord who spoke
to help me better spend my time
since “shoulds” have left me broke.

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
Rhymes and Reasons

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1 comment:

Rev Carla Golden said...

Some would say that this is burn-out. But I believe that burn-out comes to us when we do not do the spiritual work ourselves and we don't grieve. As pastors, we deal with loss every day. We must be willing to do the grieving ourselves that comes from this. It is like emptying the bowl. If we don't it spills over into the rest of our ministry.