clergy burnout

Clergy burnout is real.

As a pastor, I’ve felt burnout. It’s not always easy to admit, and it’s okay to talk about it.

I curate two lists about clergy burnout:
Resources | I’ve tried these or they come highly recommended. I hope they help.
– Workshops and Classes
– Prayers and Blessings
– Books and Articles
– Additional Ideas
2. Articles and Data | Where were you at when they came out? Where are you now?
May God’s peace be with you in all of your seasons of ministry. If you have a resource or article, please send it my way, thanks. 

Affiliate and Commission Disclosures: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post and on this site. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Clergy Burnout Resources: Workshops & Classes

Workshop: Leading with Renewed Energy and Joy
Rev. Beth Estock | Transformative Leadership, $250
I took this online workshop in January 2022 to get a fresh start in the year and I found it wonderful. Beth is a United Methodist pastor and Integral Master Coach who leads with wonder and has a gift for hearing the question behind the question. The course has both live and at-your-pace elements, group discussion, and you get lifetime access.
If you would like a $25 coupon for this course, 
contact me.

Workshop: Soul Reset
Dr. Rev. Ronald Bell and Rev. Junius Dotson | Upper Room, $30
It’s my pleasure to count Dr. Bell as a local clergy colleague. We were in a clergy covenant group in 2020 when he took us through what became his book, The Four Promises: Journeying through Past and Present Trauma

Dr. Bell leads the (recorded) synchronous sessions that supplement the 6-week course developed by the late Rev. Junius Dotson for Upper Room, inspired by his own “break down” to do a Soul Reset. This is an at-your-pace course and you get lifetime access.

Clergy Burnout Resources: Prayers and Blessings

A blessing for a pastor’s heart (and for other helping professionals too)
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber | The Corners
Rev. Bolz-Weber writes with wit, honesty, and generous solidarity when it comes to the multiple roles of clergy. See below for several articles by her. She describes this two-minute audio blessing as “not in that passive-aggressive ‘well, bless their heart’ kind of way.”

Clergy Burnout Resources: Books and Articles

Clergy Burnout: Surviving in Turbulent Times (Revised Edition)
Rev. Carey Fred Lehr | Fortress Press, January 2022 (2nd edition)
Rev. Lehr has updated his 2005 book in response to clergy burnout in the face of the 2020+ COVID-19 pandemic. The book is organized in several sections that invites the reader to first page through to what is most on their mind and heart and then go back and take in the entire volume. This revised edition was crafted with care for today’s clergy.

Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis
Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee | Baker Academic, May 2018.
This resource went into print not long before the pandemic that has many clergy currently calling it quits or giving it strong thought. It features sections on the cause of burnout, practical remedies to try, and a powerful section entitled “Clergy Flourishing: In Their Own Words” as clergy reflect on their own seasons of burnout and what life is like today.

At Your Best: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
Rev. Carey Nieuwhof | Waterbrook 2021
I finally broke down and bought a Carey Nieuwhof book. I will update here when I finish it and write a review. For now, I was intrigued by the “Burnout Quiz” that Carey has on his website and it compelled me to purchase. 

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
Emily Nagoski PhD, Amelia Nagoski DMA | Ballantine 2019
This book has was recommended to me by a therapist at my church when I mentioned experiencing burnout. Paging through it, I believe the primary intended audience is women, though the overall themes should be accessible to most anyone experiencing stress and burnout.

Clergy Burnout Resources: Additional Ideas

These ideas are 100% YMMV (“your mileage may vary”). Know what resources are available to you through your local church, area/regional Annual Conference, Synod, Assembly, etc., and don’t be afraid to reach out to ask for help. Normalize it!

1. Know Your PTO Benefits (and Use Them) | For my denomination and years of service, I have four weeks of paid vacation, including four Sundays, and in 2024, this will increase to five and five for me. This is separate from spiritual formation, professional development, and camp ministry. In 2019-2020, I only used 46% of my PTO. No wonder I was exhausted! The last two years, I’ve been closer to 100%. My denomination also has a process for various sorts of paid renewal leaves. Finally, I communicated with my local church’s SPRC so they’re aware of how I’m doing, what my benefits are, and how they can support me as I use them. Being “on” all the time was never a badge of honor. Take your vacation time for you, your family, and your local church.
2. Clergy Well-Being Grants | In my regional body, clergy can apply for a new grant to help cover the cost of resource(s) that can help holistic healing. They list examples such as health coaches or personal trainers, mental health counselors, gym memberships, workshops and retreats, hiking boots, and so on. Do you have an opportunity for funds like this in your area? Does your faith tradition have a partnership with the Lilly Endowment or other entity for this?
3. Find the Daily Rituals That Mean Something to You | Anything can be a meaningful ritual. Every morning, I open four curtains and smile out at the world. Each day, I reflect on the good I felt the day before and let it inspire my starting word for Wordle. At least four times a day, my watch has a silent alarm so I remember to pause and pray. Routine can refresh the soul.

Clergy Burnout: Articles, Data, and Commentary

A Rapid Decline in Pastoral Security
Barna Group | March 15, 2023

Send Help
Lisa Renze-Rhodes for Story Magazine by Luther Seminary | December 5, 2022

A Pastoral Letter to My Little Church: On Lost Sheep
Rev. Clint Schnekloth | August 13, 2022

A Pastor Ripped Apart by Our Divided Country (podcast and transcript)
Interview with Rev. Dan White by First Person for The New York Times | July 21, 2022

Here is the church, here is the steeple, where is the pastor? The great resignation goes to church
Peter Chin for Sojourners | July 2022 Issue (cover story)

Religious leaders struggle with burnout, depression, and anxiety – just like the rest of America
Mya Jaradat for Deseret News | May 11, 2022

Stress, burnout affecting pastors
Jim Patterson for UM News | April 4, 2022

Clergy Morale in Today’s Time 
Rev. Dr. Rene Lawson | January 26, 2022

“They spoke out against the Capitol insurrection; one year later, they’re no longer pastors” 
David Bumgardner for Baptist News | January 19, 2022 

“The Story Behind the Sentence” 
Rev. Jenny Smith | January 10, 2022

“The first Christmas as a layperson: Burned out by the pandemic, many clergy quit in the past year” 
Michelle Boorstein for The Washington Post | December 24, 2021

“Why pastors are joining the great resignation”
Melissa Florer-Bixler for Sojourners | November 30, 2021

“The Pastors Aren’t All Right: 38% Consider Leaving Ministry” 
Kate Shellnutt for Christianity Today | November 16, 2021

“Whose turn is it? Grief in the time of Covid”
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber at The Corners | November 11, 2021

“Leading through burnout”
Rev. Beth Estock | October 8, 2021

“An Antidote to Burnout: 5 Reasons You Haven’t Found a Sustainable Pace” 
Bonus Burnout Quiz
Rev. Carey Nieuwhof | September 15, 2021

“The Church and the Great Resignation” 
Rev. Natalie Terfa for Church Anew | September 7, 2021

“If you can’t take it any more, there’s a reason” 
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber at The Corners | August 7, 2021

“The Second Marathon: A Word for Pastors on Walking the New Normal” 
Rev. Jenny Smith | July 2, 2021

“For some pastors, the past year was a sign that it was time to quit” 
Religious News Service | May 5, 2021

“Why the current crisis you’re leading through isn’t a marathon, it’s the future” 
Carey Nieuwhof | March 19, 2021

“This might be the hardest period of the pandemic for pastors”
Rev. Laura Stephen | March 18, 2021

“Whose problem is clergy burnout?” 
Tracey Dawson for Christian Century | November 5, 2020 (November 18 cover story)

“Too many pastors are falling on their own swords”
Jakob Topper for Baptist Global News | August 18, 2020

“COVID-19 Conversations: Many Pastors Are Tired, Overwhelmed, and Lonely”
Barna Group | May 25, 2020