Some things take longer to get over. Burnout is a serious condition that has resulted from a grinding down process which has taken years, perhaps decades. Those of us who are unfit and overweight dream of a quick fix to our problems. The truth is that we cannot undo 100,000 greasy pizzas with a few well-meaning dry crackers and a walk around the block. It is a process of change. We do realise this and know that it is pointless to ask the one on the diet if they are feeling slimmer at the end of each day. For those on the recovery path from serious pastorpain, the road will be long. For some it will be months, others years, others longer.
How do the damaged take such time out to recover? For me, I was fortunate to have some accumulated long service leave up my sleeve. It was a great blessing to have some months to be in the forest and not have the pressure to have to work, although it was never my dream to use this time to wallow in a pit. Days blur into weeks and months and sometimes there is no real improvement to show for it. I just thought that a bit of time off would do the trick, but the bite of burnout has been much more vicious than I would ever have dreamed. It takes time but sometimes we don’t have enough. The opportunity to rest is spoiled by the pressure that soon I will need to be the provider again. Soon I will have to be an ex-burnt out guy.
Sometimes people try to start back too soon. Whether it’s in their old role or a new one, they have to, or choose to, get back in the race. There is a lot of fear that comes with this as our confidence in our abilities has been shaken to the core. What if we really aren’t better? What if we crash again, will it be worse? A leader that keeps wearing out and falling behind could never really lead well again. Could they? I hope so. It would be good to have more time but our world cannot give us this time.
Just Get Over It!
Those words sound so right and yet are so hard. It is hard to get over pastorpain. It’s not a simple formula as we who are in it don’t know exactly what we are supposed to be getting over. Is it bitterness or unforgiveness? If so, then that’s something to work on. Pastorpain goes well beyond these two and so to say “get over it” shows that you don’t even understand where I am and how I got here. That’s one of the reasons for these writings; to show that it’s not just a case of getting over it, otherwise I could have worked that out and done that a long time ago.
It’s also hard to get over something that is an ongoing pain in your life. In life, sad and difficult times come and go and we are left to work through minimising the residual effects. Pastorpain is ongoing. There are issues of confidence for the future and present status that makes moving ahead more difficult. Time spent wondering what went wrong and all those doctors and psychologist appointments. Then there are issues of future career choices.
Sometimes people choose to give it another go and sometimes pastors realise that it’s time to go back to being a teenager and wonder what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. I have never been a person who gets hung up on titles and positions, but it is a sobering thing to lose descriptions like “effective leader”, “good pastor” and be left with titles like “burnt out”, “sick”, “lost” or “a mess”.