Presumably in an effort to combat burnout in church ministry, I’ve noticed a new trend starting to develop, an overreaction, in how teachers and ministers have been advising young leaders, or those training for leadership, during difficult times. That trend has been to give the advice: ‘quit.’
Or at least, ‘quit for now.’
An athlete will never develop – never grow stronger, faster, more powerful, more resilient – if they quit every time their training gets so hard that they think they can’t get through it.
Over-training, of course, is a real thing, and risks injury. It is up to the coaches and trainers of the athlete to help them find the balance between growth and maintenance. Struggle and rest. If the coaches do not respect the athlete’s body or life, they will tell them to keep pushing at all costs. Eventually the athlete will get injured, and possibly even have to retire from their sport.
On the other hand, if the coaches do not respect the athlete’s vision or the competition, they will tell them to quit. To rest. To not push themselves.
Speaking as someone training for church ministry, I’m urging pastors and teachers to realize their role as coaches in equipping and training the people in their care.
While I know what it’s like to burnout because of over commitment, and I am one of the first people now to promote self-care and rest, a balance needs to be found. Leadership is not easy. We cannot take a time-out every time training gets hard, lest we transfer that mentality to the competition, and become flaky competitors with no endurance.
The message to Christian leaders in the New Testament is never ‘quit’, but ‘persevere’. If we keep being told to ‘take a break’ every time things get tough, we will never grow into resilient, capable leaders. We might even retire from training because of a perceived lack of vision or belief from the people who are meant to be coaching us.
It also sends the message that as leaders in training, we cannot rely on *our* leaders to support us in times of trouble; we will not find encouragement to persevere when we want to throw in the towel.
In this time of chaos, many of us are running on reserves. We need to be strengthened to continue on in our training and in ministry. We are lifting heavier weights than usual, and we need discerning coaches – teachers and pastors – to not only prevent injury, but to help us lift; to help us grow.
‘But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.’
2 Timothy 4:5