It is a common public belief that clergy and church leaders are steadfast rocks in their community, with everything sorted and in place. However, that isn’t always the case. There is growing evidence that behind vicarage doors Clergy are struggling. Like other caring professions there is a body of evidence suggesting many clergy are facing burnout and have been staying silent about it.
Burnout can be defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Clergy and church leaders face high demands and expectations from their congregations and from themselves. Leaders are supposed to “have it all together” ... aren’t they?
How do you know if you are suffering, or beginning to suffer, from burnout? Some common signs of burnout include:
- Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted
- Losing interest in your work
- Feeling cynical or detached from your congregation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue
However, this is not an exhaustive list and only scratches the surface with generalisations.
The Sheldon Hub and Clergy Burnout
If you are struggling with burnout, or even think that you might be, the Sheldon Hub can help you. The forums offer a confidential, safe and secure space for you to share your thoughts and feelings. You can have general discussions on dealing with burnout and the other stresses of ministry or ask for specific advice on personal concerns.
The Sheldon Hub also has a growing list of health and well-being practitioners. This list contains recommendations from Hub users and is constantly being updated. In addition, there are several recommended books and other resources helping you cope with burnout.
Sheldon Retreat is "A place of refuge and recuperation for many when life in ministry gets tricky”. Sarah Horsman (Warden of Sheldon) discusses burnout and Sheldon in general in the Burn Like Stars series from GoHealth. If you need to get away then time at Sheldon is an option.
Don’t suffer in silence, reach out to someone you trust, or anonymously within the Hub.