Often total burnout is accompanied by mental and emotional frustration. Add to that feelings of betrayal, bitterness toward those who may have attacked you, and a growing disillusionment with the church.
However, this is also a time of tremendous spiritual growth. When we crash down, a burning hulk, smoking like a flax, realizing the failures, weaknesses, and helplessness, we are on the threshold of the greatest growth of our lives to date. It is a wonderful chance to simply give up in a greater way then ever before, and let God do His thing in our lives. It is a chance to toss out all the church politics, man-made traditions, feigned worship, and other denominational baggage, and just get back to spending all the time we want with the Lord Jesus.
It becomes a time of deep soul searching, re-thinking, and the start of a whole new walk with Jesus that we lost somewhere at seminary, or in denominational ladder climbing. Now you can get back to relishing the simple truths of Jesus and salvation. Back to the way it was when we were first called and overcome by the love of Father as He drew us to Jesus.
During this time, do yourself a favor and drop ALL expectations regarding the church, your denomination, and the friends you have had. If there are some who contact you and wish to love and pray for you, rejoice in this, but don’t expect it. If it happens, hallelujah! If it doesn’t, realize you are not some odd ball. Most burned-out or terminated pastors experience an immediate loss of friends in the ministry, and at times downright rejection from church members.
When it comes to pastor friends, realize many are scared. Your fall or burnout is a test of great reality. They need to withdraw into the facade they have been living in to try and shut out the harsh reality of this world, and the state of the church. They are scared what happened to you can easily happen to them! The truth is - it can!
Many of your friends forget Abraham was a lying coward of a husband for Sarah. Moses spent forty years training to lead his church of three million. Of the three million, two individuals made it into the promised land! David was an adulterer, and considered a super failure according to man’s reasoning. God had other things to say about David. Elijah had great egotistical dreams of launching the greatest revival in history at Mt. Carmel, and became so depressed and disillusioned after it failed to meet his expectations that he ran away to the desert and convinced himself he was the only one serving God! Saul, then Paul, was a hardliner that needed to learn patience and grace, and did from the hard knocks of life and from men like Barnabas. Peter, the guy who really didn’t know himself or human nature, needed to learn some lessons the hard, hard way. He even had to be corrected to his face later by Paul! Then there is Jesus. The man who pastored a church of twelve, and lost one!
The powerful test your friends face is found in Luke 10. The example of the Good Samaritan. It is the classic test of Christianity, which we deal with in another article at Smoldering Wick. The point I want to make here is, Jesus has never given up on you, and is working very closely with you. Your pastoral friends may have disappeared, but Jesus has not. You are being humbled, and closely guided by Jesus right now, and you will be a far better person in the end. Jesus loves working with the broken, and hates the proud. Just relax and let Him do His work in you, like he did with so many “failures” over the past two thousand years. He knows the rejection you feel, He has felt it also, from the same type of people that have rejected you! He will never leave you. God bless you in the great work Jesus is doing in you and will do through you.