Why I Attend So Many Conferences

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I attend—and speak at—a lot of conferences. I usually attend a couple a month: church conferences, industry events, and educational gatherings.

Pouring Water into a Glass - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Mordolff, Image #9042613

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Mordolff

I attend in my capacity as the CEO of Thomas Nelson, for two reasons. First, I am constantly on the lookout for new authors. Hearing someone speak is a great way to discover someone with a compelling message. Sometimes ( though not always), this translates into a viable book project.Second, I also attend to raise the visibility of my company with its core constituents. As active as I am on the Internet and as much as I believe in social media, I still believe there is no substitute for meeting people face-to-face.

While these are valid and important reasons to attend professionally, the real reason I go is to grow personally. If you are not constantly moving forward spiritually, intellectually, and relationally, then you will start slipping backward. I attend conferences to be exposed to new ideas, to network with other leaders, and frankly, to hear from God.

I think it is especially important for pastors to get away to one or two conferences a year. You can be constantly giving out and not receiving. According to an August 2, 2010 article in the New York Times, entitled, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work”:

Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

In addition, PastorBurnout.com reports that:

  1. 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
  2. 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  3. 70% don’t have any close friends (this one about makes me cry).
  4. 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
  5. Clergy have the second highest divorce rate among all professions.

This makes the ministry one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. God never intended for us to go it alone. Great community creates longevity in your ministry and leadership. We really are better together.

That’s why I want to let you know about the Nashville LIT Conference in Nashville on March 24 on the CrossPoint Church campus. I am especially excited to be speaking alongside my dear friend and Thomas Nelson author, Pete Wilson. (You can find the additional speakers here.)

Dr. Chris Stephens, the conference founder, as assigned us the theme of “Leadership in Turbulent Times.” I have spoken on this topic previously and written on it. More importantly, I have had to do it. I know the other speakers have, too. This is why I believe this conference will encourage you and help you in your critical role.

I hope you will join me for a day of inspiration, encouragement, and challenge. I guarantee you will leave refreshed.

Question: What do you do to avoid ministry or leadership burnout? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Anonymous

    Accountability. Making sure I am surrounded by a support circle of Godly people who speak truth into my life. Staying connected to God is number one. If that means taking a day without the laptop, cell phone, and any other thing that can get in the way, just to focus on Him, I will do it. Surrounding yourself with safe people is important.

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  • Sjohnston

    Making sure I am staying in God’s Word and prioritizing a monthly prayer/planning day head me in the right direction.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Crucial part of my day, every day, as well.

    • http://www.RobertBrewer.org Robb Bewer

      Amen to God’s Word! I need to be more purposeful about a monthly prayer/planning day.

  • AshleyBSanchez

    Get away with my spouse two weekends (at least) a year to relax and enjoy each other and just being quiet.

  • Kerry Palmer

    I work hard to maintain connections with God and with my family. Family time is very improtant, and is scheduled weekly. That time is sacred and untouchable.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    My pastor, Dr. Larry Osborne, spoke about this last weekend. His message was simple… God doesn’t want us to do things alone. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two and we should use that as an example in our own lives. It’s really sad to read the statistics on pastors. I think conferences are a good way to build needed friendships and let pastors know they aren’t alone. Church boards should certainly make this a priority.

    Larry’s message was a powerful reminder. You can see it online here http://bit.ly/geDe4I

    • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

      Hey John, totally off topic, but a few guys from my church were just out at North Coast. We are on our way to making our church more Sticky. :) You and I share a lot of common interests (in addition to Mike’s blog), so I’m not following you on Twitter.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        I’ve heard the Sticky series at North Coast was a good one. Pastor Larry has some unique insights based on year’s of experience. It’s good to touch base with you on Twitter.

    • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

      John, that sounds like a great message your pastor spoke about last weekend. I’ve come to the conclusion that God longs for us to fellowship and be with others. His ministry revolved around bringing others together, from his first miracle to the way he sent out the disciples.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Pastor Larry’s message was something that I had never considered before. I just always figured it was me and God. But that’s not the way he wants it at all. Fellowship with others is vital, especially for pastors. It certainly makes ministry easier when you have a great team to work with.

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I make sure that I go on break from my regular routine for two weeks in a year to spend time with my parents and friends. It reduces the mental stress I take all through the year. On a daily basis, meditating upon God’s word helps a lot.
    Ultimately, it always depends on the balance of work-life you practice. Burnouts are bound to occur in today’s ever demanding professional life. We need to be careful enough to maintain a balance in everything what we do.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I can well attest to the lack of friends issue. From here on the Arkansas Prairie, it’s tough to build those out-of-church relationships that I need.

    So, what do I do?

    Crazy as this sounds: 1. Read blogs and interact with people on there. There is no substitute for face-to-face time, but it’s a start. Also, I can tell my stress level is building by looking at my Web activity. If I’m doing more than a comment or two here and there, if I’m engaging in long arguments on blogs I’m not normally engaged with, that’s an indicator my stress level is up and that I need to do something with it.

    2. Do my best to see that my wife takes the opportunities she has for relationships. It helps her see me clearly and comment when I need help. Also, that provides the freedom for me to make a plan-change in some cases, because I won’t be robbing her of her “one chance to have a friend.”

    3. Read. Not a little.

    I skipped: daily Bible reading, prayer, and time with my family. Not because I don’t do those, but because those are built-in to my schedule and sometimes I still start feeling the stress too strongly. These are some of my safety systems beyond those.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Doug! I concur with your point 3 completely. It goes a long way in reduing our stress.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Yes, it does in my life, also.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’ve never thought through #1 in that way, but looking at my life, I can see that applies to me as well. Thanks for opening my head up to a new idea…

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        Joining the conversation in a blog has also been helpful for me. I benefit from the insights of others and, inevitably, the topics are something that I need to hear and help to motivate me. Plus, I generally learn something (some tip, trick, or skill) or find those comical things that make for a good laugh.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Yeah, I don’t know how many times I get a chuckle out of someone’s comment…

        • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

          Steven, as you say, laughter is a great medicine; and a good stress buster too.

  • Karl Mealor

    These stats are unbelievable.

    Thank you for your transparency. Are there any conferences in the southeast U.S. that you would recommend?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The LIT Conference I mentioned in the post is definitely one.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I would love to attend this year in Nashville, but it doesn’t look like finances or schedule will allow it. Bummer…

      • Karl Mealor

        Thanks. I’ll check into it.

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      The statistics also blow my mind. Particularly the one where 70% has no close friends. I have always imagined the ministry life being a lonely road, but no close friends is not what I had in mind!

  • Teresa Bakker

    I agree with the need to focus on a topic and renew, unfortunately in these economic times most businesses cut training and travel to reduce expenses. As a substitute I have a reading list that I gather from leaders I respect and use my lunch hour to feed my body, mind and spirit.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I know a lot of businesses and ministries cut these costs. Ours did, too. But I think as an employee you have to make a business case for why it is a good investment and will pay dividends. I have a post on this called “How to Get Your Boss’s Approval When You Need It.”

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “using lunch hour to feed body, mind and spirit ” – that’s a creative suggestion! Thanks for sharing Teresa.

    • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

      I use my lunch hour in the same way. We have an hour lunch so I pack a lunch, find a nice park, read a book, and enjoy the outdoors. I think it’s helped some but I need to find a way to better process what I read.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I can’t do that. I live two miles from work, so I go home for lunch. With five kids, there’s no reading at all. My time comes in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.

        • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

          Sorry to hear you can’t do that. It makes for a really nice break during the day. I can choose between 4-5 different parks, 2-3 spots near the lake, etc… Maybe once a week you could change your routine and do it?

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I’m sure it’s very nice. But right now, with the ages of our kids, I try to intentionally spend that hour with the family. I’m creative and find other times to fit in some reading. And I must be somewhat successful, I read over 150 books in 2010…

            Thanks for the great idea though!

          • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

            That’s a mind boogling numbers Jeff! You read a good number of books.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            It is kinda crazy…

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Wow. That is a huge number of books!

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Wow. That is a huge number of books!

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Yeah, I review a lot for publishers, like Thomas Nelson, and I read a lot that I purchase because I want to read them. And about 25% of that is fiction.

        • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

          Sounds like it could be a crazy lunch-time for you (my three kids keep things lively enough). However, that could also be an energizing time if handled well – a break in the day’s work routine and a chance to hear the laughter of children (even if it takes a good tickle-fight to get it). :-)

          My time for reading, like you, is usually after everyone else is in bed.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            It’s very energizing. Right now, it’s a time I wouldn’t miss for anything.

            My wife heads to bed around 10ish, and I’m more of a night owl. SoI read for the next 2-3 hours, it’s nice and quiet, and very pleasant.

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            So much in common…my wife and I are similar…once she is asleep, then I tend to have time for myself to read, watch tv, work on a project, etc. The only downside is that my kids like to get up early; and, once they are awake so am I. :-)

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I don’t mean this as a criticism, but when I counsel couples, I encourage them to go to bed at the same time. When they don’t, it can lead to problems. You might be the exception, but it is always a red flag for me.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I don’t mean this as a criticism, but when I counsel couples, I encourage them to go to bed at the same time. When they don’t, it can lead to problems. You might be the exception, but it is always a red flag for me.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Michael, I completely agree with you. And nomally, my wife stays up to about the same time as me, which is usually around midnight or a little later. The diference right now is because we have a 2 year old and a 6 week old baby, along with our other three kids. She’s more tired than normal.

            I completely agree with your point though. Thanks for reminding me.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate your openness. As long as you are aware, that’s half the battle.

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            My wife generally requires more sleep than I do; so, she usually ends up asleep before me (especially since we are both up fairly early in the mornings with our kids). Typically we spend a couple of hours, after the kids go to bed, talking and watching tv together. Then, when she is ready for sleep, I will read, etc., for a little while. For us, proximity is important, so we are usually still in the same room even when one is asleep and the other is not.

            Thank you for taking a moment to speak into the conversation and for the reminder. It has caused me to pause and evaluate things.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Proximity is important for us as well. We are always in the same room, and if it’s late, Heather is asleep on the couch curled up next to me, holding the baby, while I have a book in one hand, and the other arm is falling asleep, pinned under my wife’s shoulder. :)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            My kids like to sleep in, so I’m lucky there. And we homeschool, so no time frames to worry about.

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            We homeschool as well. The flexibility is nice. My kids have always risen with the sun.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Too bad about that… But the flexibility is very nice, you’re right.

  • Shari

    Thanks for this post. I have been praying about whether or not to attend a particular conference in June and your post spoke straight to my heart. Re what I do to avoid burnout: Based on several life-altering events over the past few years and their obvious toll on me, I have decided to start taking mini-retreats/planning sessions once a month for a few hours somewhere (Starbucks works in a pinch) and quarterly 24-36 hour retreats *by myself.* It occurred to me that I will completely waste the opportunity my despair has afforded me if I do not find time to process it and make it useful to others.

  • http://tomjamieson.wordpress.com Tom Jamieson

    Michael, I can speak from personal experience that everything you have written here is true, including the statistics provided by pastorburnout. It’s a VERY sad state of affairs in ministry right now.

  • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

    Thank you for sharing this message with us! It’s a great reminder of our need for fellowship and growth. Lately, I’ve been wanting to attend conferences, but I’m unsure of how to find quality ones near me. Any suggestions on what to do?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think I need to build a database of these like I have done with literary agents. Hmmm.

      • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

        Michael, that could be a very valuable resource. I would be interested in seeing a list like that put together.

        My wife(she wants to grow in her knowledge of photography and cooking) and I(I’m looking to grow in my knowledge of business, entrepreneurship, music, and outdoor sports) live in West Michigan and I’m sure there’s plenty of conferences nearby that would help us grow, it has just been hard finding quality ones that would give us value.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I would benefit from a list as well.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    Michael,

    I agree with you. For the past several years I have encouraged and gone with folks from my seminary to the Leadership Summit that Willow Creek does. I try to encourage them that they can learn from all types of leaders (Church or business) and that they can get insight on changes in the way leaders operate as well and ways to personally grow. I also encouarge folks to read books to grow and develop and I am part of a peer group that studies books to help grow too. (By the way our current book is a Thomas Nelson book, Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy, it has been really insightful and I am having discussions with peer ministers who are actaully leading their entire staffs through this). The old saying goes that if you are not growing you are dying, so I encourage people to find as many ways as they can to grow. Conferences are a great way to do that.

  • Jenniferhinz13

    I make sure to schedule a few hours of every week as “fun” time. I might go to a movie or have coffee with a friend, visit a museum or festival with my husband…whatever. And I don’t answer my phone/email during this time.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s great Jennifer.

  • Christina Berry

    As a female pastor in a small town, I remind myself that my public life is an opportunity for ministry, and part of that ministry is modeling a balanced life. So I’m clear with the church folks about the importance of taking time off every week, and if there are weeks when I can’t, to take a few days in a row. I’m diligent about spending time with my husband, and regularly see friends, even though all of them are far away.
    I read all the time, and of course take time for prayer and study. And when I take my generous two weeks of study leave, I attend events that feed my spirit. I try to apply every year to institutes or seminars that have to do with writing; some of them even cover travel costs for those who are accepted.
    When I attend conferences, I do not always slavishly attend every single minute of every event. Sometimes, I skip a session, and have a conversation with someone I’ve met!
    In the past, when a church I served couldn’t afford a pay raise, I asked for one additional week of study leave, and used it to attend a short conference, then spent the rest of the time reading, writing, and thinking.
    Many church retreats and conference centers offer reduced rates or free stays for additional days for pastors who attend events; I try to take advantage of those when I can.
    I often tell my folks that God made us to be human beings, not human doings, and that rest and renewal are part of God’s intention for us.

    • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

      I’m definitely in tune with skipping a bit of the program at some conferences. In the times that I’ve been able to attend things like annual denomination meetings, I’ve skipped out for sanity’s sake!

      My wife and I have tried to make that a part of our state denomination meeting as well: one night we take off and go out, just relax a bit. If the nights are too good to miss, we do lunch. Either way, there’s time available.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There is some real wisdom in your comment. I especially like the part about being a human being not a human doing. Thanks.

  • Christina Berry

    As a female pastor in a small town, I remind myself that my public life is an opportunity for ministry, and part of that ministry is modeling a balanced life. So I’m clear with the church folks about the importance of taking time off every week, and if there are weeks when I can’t, to take a few days in a row. I’m diligent about spending time with my husband, and regularly see friends, even though all of them are far away.
    I read all the time, and of course take time for prayer and study. And when I take my generous two weeks of study leave, I attend events that feed my spirit. I try to apply every year to institutes or seminars that have to do with writing; some of them even cover travel costs for those who are accepted.
    When I attend conferences, I do not always slavishly attend every single minute of every event. Sometimes, I skip a session, and have a conversation with someone I’ve met!
    In the past, when a church I served couldn’t afford a pay raise, I asked for one additional week of study leave, and used it to attend a short conference, then spent the rest of the time reading, writing, and thinking.
    Many church retreats and conference centers offer reduced rates or free stays for additional days for pastors who attend events; I try to take advantage of those when I can.
    I often tell my folks that God made us to be human beings, not human doings, and that rest and renewal are part of God’s intention for us.

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    God has blessed me with a very wise wife who gently reminds me when I try to take on too many things. I am also working on prioritizing my time better. It’s amazing how much work you can get done when you aren’t watching TV.

    I’m curious. Do you encourage your team members to attend conferences? Do they have to use personal time to attend?

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Many thoughtful points from you, Ben.

      1.I do agree that TV is a great time killer. We need to be judicious enough to use it properly.

      2.You have put a very insightful question which I can relate in my current context. — “Do you encourage your team members to attend conferences? Do they have to use personal time to attend?” — Our function in the organization encourages us to attend conferences (especially in the personal time). Not all the conferences we attend will be official. Many of us spare our personal time (and after business hours) to attend conferences and seminars. Out of curiosity, some even apply for leave and attend conferences to sharpen their professional knowledge. Ultimately, we need to use our personal time to attend such conferences and seminars.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ Gina Burgess

    Michael, I believe there are many Christians who are working in man-called vocations rather than God-called vocations which is why so many experience burnout. Setting that aside though…

    I have been studying the motivational spiritual gifts for the past decade or so and I know that if a Christian is operating squarely within his motivational gifts, and walking in the Spirit not in the Flesh, he won’t burn out. I know that is contrary to all the statistics but consider for a moment how God has provided for His work through out the millenniums from Exodus to today.

    Moses had burnout because he was not operating within his motivational gift which was according to God’s purpose. Moses’ gift was not administration otherwise he would never have needed Jethro’s advice to delegate the judging duties. God wanted Moses to exhibit dependence upon Himself to the Children of Israel because that was their first lesson. It was necessary for him to operate outside his gift. However, God has given us our motivations according to the work He prepared for us from the beginning. God designed a system of spiritual motivations so that our spirits would not tire and our souls would maintain healthy spiritual muscle.

    That doesn’t mean we automatically know our gifts, however we do tend to gravitate toward work where we can operate within our gifts naturally. Satan has a field day blinding us to God’s calling, but when walking in the Spirit, we overcome that obstacle.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with this. Moses is a great example. I have written about him before.

      • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ Gina Burgess

        How about doing a post or two on leaders in the Bible? What they learned is certainly as valid today, wouldn’t you think?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          You might want to search my archives. I have quite a few posts on this.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Gina! good thoughts on “man-called vocations” Vs. “God-called vocations”

      • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ Gina Burgess

        Thank you Uma, it’s an interesting concept isn’t it?

  • Ramon Presson

    I’m mindful of this quote from Gordon MacDonald: “If a man is always available, he’s no good when he is.” I see through the Gospels in Jesus life & ministry a rhythm of Engage and Retreat. Fully engaged with individuals, crowds, disciples and then fully disengaged to be alone with the Father. Disciples often had to go looking for him.
    Having been an assistant pastor for 20 years I am convinced that the role of the senior pastor may be the most unrealistic job description there is. The combination of constant & multiple demands from wearing different hats, the expectations of almost unconditional availability, and the pettiness of complaints can drive a pastor to the brink. My friend Woody Cumbie once said, “The pettiness and nit-picking isn’t all that painful; it’s just like constantly being stoned with popcorn.”
    Years before cell phones when we all wore beepers I published an article entitled, “Would Jesus Have Worn a Beeper?” And from reading the Gospels I concluded No, he would not have. Jesus was not unconditionally available. There were times that not even his disciples could get to him. Being unavailable is vital to emotional and spiritual health, not to mention marital & family health.
    When in ministry having at least one close friend is vital. I found it best to have that close friend OUTSIDE the staff and membership of my church so I felt more free to be completely honest and candid.
    And maybe this will be helpful to some. I learned it early as a counselor but it applies to clergy also: Do not work harder on a client changing than they work. When I find myself getting frustrated with a client in therapy that is usually the source of it–I’m working harder on their change and transformation than they are working. And that’s backwards.
    I realize that I’ve probably made pastoral ministry sound negative and I don’t mean to do that. In defense of ministry and in affection for ministry I must say that in pastoral ministry people invite you into the most profound moments of their lives, both the most joyous ones and the most painful ones. It is an honor to be invited in and thus trusted with the personal journeys of others.

    • http://twitter.com/slumbersixcon Joe Lalonde

      Ramon, that’s a great and true quote!

  • http://www.confessionsofalegalist.com Jeremy@confessionsofalegalist

    Scary numbers.

  • BrettVaden

    Although I love my church and most of my personal growth happens through relationships with the members, I have attached myself to a para-church ministry/conference that I think revitalizes and invigorates those relationships. It is a weekend event designed to help men (and women) experience the gospel in their lives. I work as a volunteer staff member two or three times a year. The ministry is located at menatthecross.com.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great. Thanks for posting the link.

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    I don’t have the opportunity to attend many conferences now, though I certainly wish I could because it would combine the two things that have become key for avoiding burnout: time away and learning something new.
    I use to have the mindset that I should never take a day off (except for weekends). There were a couple of years in the early part of my career where I didn’t use my vacation days. Now I make sure that use all of them.
    Now I also read more than I have ever read in my life. I probably read 2-3 books a week.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. That is a lot of books. Good for you.

      • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

        Having the Kindle has dramatically increased the number of books I read.

        • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

          Looks like I need to go for a Kindle to increase my reading

        • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

          Do you practice speed reading?

          • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

            Not really, I simply making time for reading by cutting out the time that
            was previously used to watch TV. When it comes to non-fiction (which is
            80-90% of what I read) I definitely don’t speed read. When it comes to
            fiction though I do read much faster.
            I will say that reading is like anything else, the more you do it the
            better you get at it.

  • Heath Stoner

    I make it a priority to laugh with my kids, enjoy times with my wife, and find depth in my relationship with Christ. I also enjoy connecting with my friends and enjoying a good book.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Laughter and enjoying your family makes all the difference in the world!!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I recently found and read a great resource on avoiding burnout in ministry. The book is called Leading On Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro. In it, he suggests PRDs, or Personal Retreat Days, once a month. I’ve implemented this idea into my life and have found it extremely helpful. I’ve located about five locations nearby where I can go spend the day for little or no cost, reading, praying, dreaming, and refilling myself, s I can continue to pour out into the lives of others.

    It’s just one of the many things I do to help avoid burnout.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great idea. I do it once a quarter. I’ll have to pick up the book.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I loved it. I took itwth me on the first few PRDs I did. Now, I’m an old pro… ;)

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for the book, Jeff! I am curious to read it.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I really learned from it Uma, even though I don’t feel like burnout is approaching in my life. I implemented several of his suggestions to help myself continue to avoid it.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting post! Honestly I never considered the benefits of attending a conference with regard to avoiding burnout. Going to ponder that more.

    About two years ago, I stepped down as Women’s Ministry Director at my church at the strong urging of the Lord. He knew what was in the future and that I would need more time to devote to speaking and writing. I’m so glad that I obeyed. Again, just being honest, I need to do a better job at carving out time to rest and recharge. Maybe I’ll look for a conference to attend soon.

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      Conferences are so neat to avoid burnout. One leaves refreshed by what’s ministered to us. If you don’t mind, I encourage you to take that step – especially as a writer and speaker, you can use some good ideas from others who have walked that road.

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Daniel, thanks for the encouragement. I do attend conferences and am blessed by them. I learn about what to do in my ministry and also what not to do. I just never thought about them as a prescription for burnout prevention.

  • Tsmith

    I need new ideas!! Conferences are good for me in this way. I need my thinking challenged. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask a question about what you do after you attend a conference. (Don’t want to take your thread off topic!) How do you take the material from the conference and make something useful for real life. Thanks for the post!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Dear Smith! It’s upto us to make an action plan and implement the same based our knowledge acquired during such conferences.

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      I think one of the first steps is to REVIEW your notes :) Haha. Sounds sarcastic, but it’s true. I guess before that… take notes at the conference. I am pretty shocked when I see people without notepads at confernces, or church services for that matter

      As you review your notes, I set aside sometime to ponder on them, probably 20-30 mins. That’s enough to get some thoughts going. You won’t apply it all at once, but if you begin to just meditate on them… you’ll have take some first valuable steps ;)

  • Drdh

    I quit going to church 10 years ago and started friendship evangelism which I first learned at age 14 at YFC. Life is now fun not haveing to wear a mask and pretend. I study and listen to only two great tv preachers. Am 68 and couldn’t be happier.

  • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

    I grew up in a pastor’s home and have been in pastoral ministry for many years. I’ve discovered one of the secrets to avoiding pastoral burnout is obeying the 4th of the 10 commandments. Remembering the Sabbath- doing our work in six days and taking the 7th day off- is just as much a commandment as ‘thou shalt not kill’. Because Sunday is a pastor’s main day of ministry, it is NOT a day off.

    Every pastor should have one day a week that he totally detaches himself from obligations and responsibilities (barring emergencies). A day of rest and renewal to restore physical, emotional, and spiritual reserves.

    Mark Buchanan wrote an excellent book on this topic called “The Rest of God” http://www.amazon.com/Rest-God-Restoring-Your-Sabbath/dp/0849918480

    • http://pleasingtoyou.blogspot.com TeriLynneU

      LOVE “The Rest of God” … reading it now, slowly. I am convinced that the principles Buchanan articulates are transformative in our understanding of sabbath and the necessity of obedience in this area.

  • http://www.djchuang.com djchuang

    And it’s sure a lot easier to go to a lot of conferences when they pay you instead of you paying them! :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      True enough. But I am not advocating going to a lot. I am only suggesting you consider one or two a year.

  • http://fishblogwash.blogspot.com Sean

    I had a religion professor at The University of Iowa tell us to quit studying and watch a good movie the night before any big exam. Said it would help clear our minds and enable us to come back stronger. I think this can work with life’s “exams” as well. Even though people always complain about being “Donald Trump busy” with their careers, family, etc, they sure find time to sit around and dwell on the stressful aspects of their lives. Go watch a movie – or something – and forget about it for awhile. You’re not Donald Trump.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    I purposefully plan times or a day where I make sure to have fun. No work, e-mails, calls, etc. It’s always a great boost!

  • Ralene

    To avoid burnout, I definitely agree that people need to take a break. Get away from the here and now to debrief and refresh. Since writing is my ministry, this looks like taking a break between projects to read, attend conferences, catch up on other hobbies, and taking a vacation with the family!

  • Anonymous

    “If you are not constantly moving forward spiritually, intellectually, and relationally, then you will start slipping backward.”

    This is so true, and one of the main reasons that I read as much non-fiction as I do. I need to be constantly challenged in my thinking, growing in my knowledge of the Lord and in relating to people. Retreats and conferences are great ways to be challenged as well! If I had the resources, I’d love to go to one a month, but two or three a year is more practical for my current season of life.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Love that quote, Apichea! Similar to you, I read non-fiction a lot. Getting constantly challenged in our thinking is a great gift from reading books.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I find that both books and conference work for me. Those stimulate more growth than any other.

      • Anonymous

        My greatest challenge is to go beyond the challenge to the application. I
        can highlight areas that need growth when reading or listening to a speaker,
        but unless I’m willing to initiate change in my life based on what I’ve
        read/heard, it’s been a worthless exercise.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I find that both books and conference work for me. Those stimulate more growth than any other.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I love the idea of getting away for a few days and being fed/energized from a conference. Unfortunately, this has not been an option the last few years between family needs and finances. However, I do find it helpful to have personal time on a regular basis to do something enjoyable (watch a movie, create something, laugh, etc.) and to have time where I do not ‘have’ to do anything – time that is just free from scheduled things.

  • http://brianstewart.org Brian Stewart

    In response to your post I just invited my pastor out to lunch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. They DO need encouragement.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. They DO need encouragement.

  • http://www.RobertBrewer.org Robb Bewer

    Rest is my biggest ally in avoiding burnout. Cramming more things into the same 24 hours sometimes has to be done; but I find myself more choosy about what I give my time to. This helps me prioritize rest.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    It is a battle, isn’t it?

    Trusting in the Lord is tough in a sin-soaked world such as this one. But He is faithful, even when we are not.

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    Personal and spiritual growth are huge ways I maintain my energy and drive. I will be attending a John Maxwell conference next month

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      John’s content always challenges me and stimulates my thinking.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    You can be constantly giving out and not receiving.

    I guess some can and some can’t.

  • Bill Evans

    In 1994, I made the decision to step aside from my role as a pastor. My plan had been to take an extended sabbatical and work at so-called “secular employment” and return to pastoring after my children were through high school. I did not realize at the time just how depressed I was. My efforts to find such employment only served to exacerbate my discouragement. Within three months of my resignation as a pastor, I “hit bottom” and voluntarily began two weeks of intensive therapy at a Christian mental health facility. One month after my release my family experienced two deaths of close family members on the same day.

    After continued outpatient therapy, I learned to redefine my concept of ministry to go beyond the role of a pastor. I worked for a large Christian retail store chain and later returned to school to earn a M.A. in Counseling. I have now been employed as a hospice chaplain for three years.

    As a hospice chaplain, I help people to deal with issues related to spiritual pain in the end of life context. The symptoms of this pain relate to some of the existential questions of life. What is the meaning of my life? How good are the relationships I have with the important people in my life? Are there any outstanding forgiveness issues I need to deal with? What is the focus of my hope?

    Looking back on my experience of 1994, I realize I was also experiencing spiritual pain. God continues to work in my life to show me areas needing his healing touch. To paraphrase a familiar passage of Scripture, I testify today “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of depression, I am not afraid because God is with me.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this honest story, Bill. Depression can be such a subtle but destructive force. Too many Christians are afraid to admit they struggle with it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this honest story, Bill. Depression can be such a subtle but destructive force. Too many Christians are afraid to admit they struggle with it.

  • TNeal

    I lived the life of a pastor or missionary for almost twenty years. Even writing that surprises me because it seems so disjointed to me now–three years in Texas, six years in Russia, ten years in Wisconsin. I stepped away from pastoral ministry when asked to move again.

    Thankfully, I never felt like a lone ranger as I served. I count it a blessing that outside of my first church I found counsel among men of godly character. Often I befriended men who were outside my church circle but who were active in their own congregations or were themselves pastors.

    I do have to admit I don’t miss the pastoral role. Two close friends are pastors and I see their many struggles bounded by far too few high moments. But they’re good men who wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • @Matthewmacd

    Maybe in another blog post you could touch on some worthwhile conferences for non-pastors. It’s hard to sift through all the mumbo-jumbo business and leadership conferences out there too!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a good suggestion. Thanks. The Chick-fil-A Leadercast is definitely a great conference for Christians in the marketplace.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a good suggestion. Thanks. The Chick-fil-A Leadercast is definitely a great conference for Christians in the marketplace.

  • Susan Fontaine Godwin

    Embracing and accepting the spiritual truth that “in my weakness God’s strength is made manifest in me.” This means understanding that it’s not up to me to make everything happen. If our business mission and plans are God’s design, He will unfold His purposes according to His time and ways. I can then walk with confidence in faith knowing that I can roll my burdens on Him. This is probably the best way to prevent burn-out…along with practical daily disciplines of daily devotional, exercise, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.

  • http://pennyshire.wordpress.com ReflectionsByPj

    These are such disheartening statistics.

    In order to avoid burnout I have learned to say no. This was not easy. Being that I am a people pleaser, I would find myself apologizing for saying ‘no’ while attempting to explain my ‘no’. I am growing, however slowly that may be, as I have learned to simply respond, “No.” I offer no apologies, no explanations – simply, “No.” Such a beautiful word – no.

    That being said, I cannot stop ministering all together. I am a single mom of a 9-year-old and a 15-year-old, in addition to being a full-time college student and a part-time employee. I was teaching three different classes at church while trying to maintain my already busy schedule. Now I simply teach one class, taking on additional class during the summer months when my schedule is less chaotic.

    “If you are not constantly moving forward spiritually, intellectually, and relationally, then you will start slipping backward.” I could not not agree more – watch out for when slipping backward ends and growing stagnate begins. YIKES! :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This reminds me of Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This reminds me of Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

  • Matt Musteric

    An unspoken reality that prohibits many pastors from attending conferences is the lack of financial support from congregations. Many of my colleagues have had this support reduced or eliminated. So sad.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think pastors and others have to make a case as to why it is in EVERYONE’S best interests for them to go.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think pastors and others have to make a case as to why it is in EVERYONE’S best interests for them to go.

  • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

    Unfortunately, I’m not financially able to attend the conferences, like a Re:Create or Cat West, as I’d like to and my church isn’t able to invest in me either. Because of this, I’ve had to get creative and make my own conferences of sorts. I pursue the people I want to learn from. Buy them lunch and have questions prepared. See if I can go and shadow a church for a morning to see if I can glean some info. Its not easy, but it has already helped me to grow and avoid burnout. We always need to keep learning.

    • TNeal

      Your alternative plan certainly reflects creativity and wisdom. You offer an excellent example of focus and persistence.

      • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

        TNeal – Thanks for your kind words. It just comes down to not letting your circumstances dictate your outlook. Rise above.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great alternative. Some of these conferences also have sponsorships. You might ask.

      • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

        I never thought about sponsorships, great idea. Thanks Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great alternative. Some of these conferences also have sponsorships. You might ask.

  • D Ballantyne

    I would say that one of the greatest “stressors” we who are in ministry face has to due with the whole issue of comparison and greed in ministry. Not greed for money, but greed for more. More people, more voice, more of “God”, more, more, more! The tyranny of more drives unhealthy commitments, assumptions, and expectations on what it means to be a leader in yoke with God. Sadly, conferences are not places that feed spiritual rest and reflection, but fan the fires of spiritual greed and comparison. I would suggest that we attend less conferences, work more as a team, prioritize rest and sport, read good books, and love our mates well. With these things God can work inoculations of the soul to keep us on track.

  • TNeal

    I grew up in South Texas but live near Madison, Wisconsin. Long winters burn me out (or more accurately “bum me out”). I escape for at least two weeks in late January or early February.

    I’m less than two weeks returned from a trip south and the difference in my attitude and productivity is both positive and encouraging. I usually leave with a sense of guilt (my Wisconsin wife remains here at home) but return energized.

  • http://charlesjaymeyer.blogspot.com Charles Meyer

    As I was reading through some of the stats you posted and seeing my friends go through ministry burnout reminds me of the reasons why I have not been part of a ministry for a couple years.

    I am currently 23 and had been interested in being in ministry since I was 17 but seeing what my friends have gone through in the last 3 years I have decided to wait on fully pursing ministry. As I read these comments I am encouraged to return one day to ministry.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    I can totally relate to the whole ministry burnout thing.

    One of the problems many pastors have is that their salaries are insufficient to enable them to go to conferences and the church is unwilling to pay for them to go.

    I would love to go to a conference or two. I really need it but just have no way to do so!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think rather than accept this as the status quo, I would encourage you to try and convince your church why it is in their best interests for you to go.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

    To avoid ministry burnout:

    1. I like to hang out with other believers and we just worship together. No teaching, no planning, no work. Just love on God and letting God love on us.
    2. Like you do, I attend conferences to receive and be refreshed.

    More important than these two, I do my best to respect my Sabbath :)

  • http://dustn.me Dustin W. Stout

    So important for us church leaders to take time to get poured into on a bigger scale. This is why I’m upset that our church couldn’t afford to send us to Catalyst West this year. :( I will be saving for next year to make sure I don’t miss it again. Your talk last year on Platform was an inspiration & even started me on a new consultation path alongside doing youth ministry. Thanks again Michael!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    My pastor has always said that you’re a fool to go into full time pastoral ministry unless God has very clearly called you there. Being a pastor is not a job, it’s a lifestyle with many sacrifices.

    Thanks for putting the spotlight on some of the pressures our pastor’s face. I think if we were a bit more aware of what our pastor’s do for us we’d be a bit more accepting, forgiving, gracious and a little less demanding and critical.

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