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Meteor or Shining Light

Burn Out Leadership Ministry

Contributed By: Scott Roberts | Date Posted: 2015-06-14

Scripture: Exodus 18:14

Author: Scott Roberts


When you look in the night sky there are few things more amazing to watch than a shooting star.  The speed at which the light flashes across the sky is exhilarating.  But have you ever stopped to consider that whatever type of debris is falling into our orbit is actually in the process of burning up. It is being consumed and the heat that is generated as the object deteriorates is the light which we see.  Pretty quickly, that object burns out and the light ceases. If it's big enough, it breaks through our atmosphere and lands with a giant thud somewhere on the planet as a blackened rock.


Contrast that with a Star.  A Star provides the same kind of brilliant light, but over a much longer period of time.  It too is being consumed, but not so quickly and the result is that it provides light in the darkness for many years to come.  

Which would you rather be?

So often we structure our lives for the fast payouts.  The problems that come from this are compounded when we are leader.  Burnout is more common to the leader who lives like a meteor - flashy, fast, never slowing down and unable to take the long road of working with a few people to train them to help us.  

This was the lesson Moses needed to learn in Exodus 18:13-27. Here we find the prescription for a ministry that is not so prone to burnout, but is set to shine like the stars in the heavens for many years to come. 

"When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, 'What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?'

Moses answered him, 'Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.'

Moses’ father-in-law replied, 'What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.  If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied'" (Exodus 18:14-23).

Ministry At The Speed of Cheetah

Ministry Burn Out Weakness

Source: "What makes a cheetah run so fast?" by Julia Layton, published on How Stuff Works: Animals

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-03-30

Scripture: Luke 5:16 ; Matthew 14:23

Author: Julia Layton / Illustration Exchange


The cheetah is an amazing animal. Known as the fastest animal on earth, it was literally designed by the Creator for speed:

Everything about a cheetah contributes to its superlative running skills. An oversized, powerful heart pumps huge amounts of blood; large lungs and nostrils allow for fast and deep air intake. A cheetah's eyes are extra long so they can get a fast, wide-angle view of their surroundings even at top speed. It has an extra flexible spine that curves with each stride, acting something like a spring for the back legs. The large tail is both a rudder and counterweight to a cheetah's body so it doesn't spin out during fast turns. … The flexible spine, combined with unique leg muscles that give a cheetah's legs incredibly broad swing range, allow the animal to achieve a stride of 25 feet … completing up to three strides per second, with only one foot on the ground at any time … Hard, ridged foot pads and blunt, nonretractable claws maximize traction with the ground.

The combination of all these special anatomical characteristics allows the cheetah to attain speeds of up to 70 miles per hour! Unfortunately, though, the drain on its heart is such that it cannot maintain it for more than about 600 yards. The chase puts a nearly unbearable strain on its heart.

Exhausted and overheated, if it does not catch its prey in those first 600 yards, it must forfeit the kill and rest. Even if it does make the kill, the cheetah must take time to recuperate and recharge its energy before it can eat its kill. Either way, the weak and depleted powerhouse is now itself vulnerable and often falls prey to other predators in its weakened state.


Ironically, the cheetahs greatest strength, its speed, leads to its great vulnerability, the total depletion of its energy. Likewise, the immense physical, mental, and spiritual demands of ministry can take a toll, leaving the ministry leader exhausted, discouraged, and vulnerable.

Though you may possess an "oversized, powerful heart" for service, pace yourself. Remember, even Jesus sometimes had to pull away from the crowd to rest.

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5:16).

Don't Let Your Pastor Become A Statistic

Ministry Followership Burn Out

Source: "Don't Make Your Pastor a Statistic?" By Thabiti Anyabwile, 5.25.2011

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-09-27

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:17

Author: Thabiti Anyabwile


Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile asks us to consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute*:

  • 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they ?thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
  •  70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if ?they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.

*Statistics from FASICLD (Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development), from a study started in 1989 as a Fuller Institute project that was picked up by FASICLD in 1998.

Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. Thabiti holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University.


"That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it?" asks Anyabwile.  

Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?

I'm hopeful at least some of God's people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church's treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive "double honor" from those they teach and lead.

"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).

Are You Feeling Bushed?

Endurance Good Works Burn Out

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-07-25

Scripture: Galatians 6:9

Author: Webb Garrison

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Launch From The Equator

Burn Out Endurance Good Works

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-03-04

Scripture: Galatians 6:9

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The Peril Of "Covering Up"

Sin Confession Spiritual Health

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2018-12-31

Scripture: Isaiah 29:15 ; Numbers 32:23

Author: Neal Pollard

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Are You Ready For Company?

Procrastination Second Coming Spiritual Health

Contributed By: Bren Glass | Date Posted: 2018-07-13

Scripture: Matthew 24:44 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:4

Author: Bren Glass

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Don't Be Remembered For The Time You Quit

Endurance Faithfulness Perseverance

Contributed By: Howard Harden | Date Posted: 2018-01-30

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:4 ; Job 3:1

Author: Howard Harden

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Eating Daily

Devotion Word of God Spiritual Health

Contributed By: Thomas Bevers | Date Posted: 2017-04-12

Scripture: John 6:58 ; Acts 2:46

Author: Thomas Bevers

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How To Fake Your Own Death

Hypocrisy Dead (to sin) Spiritual Health

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-02-18

Scripture: Colossians 3:5

Author: Illustration Exchange

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