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preaching article 10 Signs You're Near a Ministry Burnout

10 Signs You're Near a Ministry Burnout

based on 17 ratings
Oct 27, 2011


My counselor shared a statistic with me two years ago that floored me…90% of the people entering ministry DO NOT RETIRE from ministry, they either quit or have some sort of moral/ethical failure that disqualifies them.

I’m not a rocket scientist…but I honestly do not believe that is what Jesus called us to OR what He wants for our lives.

AND yet so many of us (church leaders) struggle/wrestle with this (usually inwardly because if we said out loud that we are dying inside we fear that people may perceive us as weak!)

Here are ten signs that you are near a burnout and/or meltdown…

#1 – You are beginning to despise people and your compassion for them is continually decreasing rather than increasing.

#2 – You often think about doing something other than ministry…and your biggest desire isn’t to honor God and reach people but to simply find relief from the pressure that seems to be building daily inside of you.

#3 – You cannot remember the last time you simply had fun with family and friends…and joy is something you talk about but are not experiencing for yourself.

#4 – You are disconnected at home…when you get there you do not want to engage with your spouse or your children, you cannot enjoy being around them…you spend more time online than you do with your family…and you find yourself wanting to sleep all of the time.

#5 – You continually tell yourself and those you love that “this is just a really busy season and that you will slow down soon.”  (However, the truth is that you have been most likely “singing that same song” for years!)

#6 – You are continually becoming obsessed with what others say about you…and one negative comment from someone who does not like you can put you in an incredibly deep valley and cause you to feel hopeless.

#7 – You begin to make easy decisions rather than the right ones…because the right ones take too much work.

#8 – There is no hope in you…and, you actually despair life.  You have actually thought of death…and some have even entertained suicidal thoughts.

#9 – You are experiencing unexplained depression and/or anxiety.  You are even having panic attacks and you can’t explain it!

#10 – You are increasingly becoming withdrawn from family and friends.

“How did you come up with this list,” you ask…it’s quite simple: I went back to December 2007 until January of this past year and listed out the qualities that were the most prominent in my own life.  That’s right…my life!  I went through a trial of intense depression and anxiety during that time period and the best way I can describe my life would be “dark!”

However, through me swallowing my pride and asking for help, the support of an incredible wife, the support of great friends, and seeking out an incredible counselor—and the unbelievable mercy of God—I broke free from my darkness this past January.  Oh sure, I still struggle with it more often than I wish I would…but I cannot tell you the incredible feelings of freedom and joy I’ve had since January that I haven’t had in YEARS!

And…this is the motivation for Reawaken—a one day worship/seminar for senior pastors, their wives and other church leaders as well.  It’s going to be an event where I will be talking about the things that pastors don’t talk about that often…how to overcome the desire to quit and actually get your passion/joy back at a level that you didn’t believe you could have.

ALSO…I am bringing in who I would consider to be THE BEST counselor on the planet for pastors and church leaders.  His name is Dr John Walker…and not only is he a licensed psychologist but he has also planted churches, pastored churches and served in nearly every capacity as a church staff member.  In others words…he understands our world.

It’s going to be an incredible day…in fact, it COULD be the day that the Lord uses to SAVE your ministry!  You can go here to find out more information about it...but I can tell you right now that it is going to be the most raw and real event that you will EVER attend.  AND…pastors, I am REALLY encouraging you to bring your spouse to this one!!!

God called us to do a lot of things for Him…but He did not call us to flame out or drop out.  I want what Paul said in II Timothy 4:7 to be true of all of us!  I want us to finish well!



Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 26,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. Perry is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. God has given him a vision and a passion for helping people meet Jesus, and each week he shares God’s word and its practical application in our daily lives. Perry, his wife Lucretia and their daughter Charisse live in Anderson, South Carolina. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership at PerryNoble.com. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.

Talk about it...

Chris Jordan avatar
Chris Jordan
0 days ago
Perry - thanks for sharing this excellent topic with the pastors on sermon central! One note though about the statistic you shared: It is actually 70 of the people entering ministry DO NOT RETIRE from ministry, they either quit or have some sort of moral/ethical failure that disqualifies them. I learned this when I was in Bible College over twelve years ago. Another interesting fact to add to that statistic: The 30 of the people who finished well had only one thing in common: It wasn't their education, denomination, or any other factor but this: accountable relationships. This is one important thing we need if we want to be able to finish well - see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12! So again, thank you Perry for challenging our pastors to guard against ministry burn-out - we need more pastors, teachers and missionaries who FINISH WELL. Amen!
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
I can come up with several examples from this list by listening to a few of his sermons.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, out of curiosity, why do you listen to so many of his sermons if you don't like him so much? Aren't there more productive ways for you to spend your time?
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
I listen to them to know what not to do. Check out Pirate Christian Radio...the guy that does it has a whole bunch of great examples of how not to treat the flock based on perry's sermons.
Thomas Burggraf avatar
Thomas Burggraf
0 days ago
Dear Perry, This is the first comment I have ever posted. Thank you so much. You are hitting the ball out of the park on this one. I wish I could attend, as it sounds like a perfect event. I am a bi-vocational pastor, and my fulltime job requires travel. Will this be made available via DVD or web? If so, I would be happy to pay for it. I long to bring the Gospel to the church, our community and college in an authentic and life giving ways as you do. Your list details many of the things I have struggled with. Jesus has brought me through many and is still working to keep my heart soft, His call fresh, my eyes up, my hands reaching, His word central, my soul rejoicing, and my love infectous. Thank you for letting Him use you in that process. Well done. I know you will hear that in the future from Jesus, and hope it encourages you to know it now.
Dav Ross avatar
Dav Ross
0 days ago
k.b. I get a rare surprise when you are positive about an article on this site. Once again I am unsurprised. I've had a burn out, and I need reminding from time to time to participate in ministry in a sustainable way.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, wow...really?! Seriously?! You actually spend time on websites dedicated to bashing pastors you don't like so that you can learn how NOT to treat the flock? Here's an idea on how NOT to treat God's flock: why don't you start by NOT taking time away from your flock to spend time on websites dedicated to bashing pastors you don't like? Seriously, I don't know why you have this obsession with Mr. Noble and with Mr. Perry, but I promise you that your obsession is not doing your flock any good. What if you took the time you spent on that website, and instead you spent that time meditating on the Gospels and seeing how Jesus lived and preached and taught and ministered--and then just do THAT, without worrying about what NOT to do? I encourage you to try it. I think you will find it substantially more beneficial for your flock.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Fernando--Why are you here? If you spent more time meditating on God's word instead of reading articles by guys like Perry Noble, maybe your flock would benefit more. I make it a point to be aware of the nonsense that gets taught in th name of Crhistianity so I can minister to the people that are victimized by him.
Dan Keeton avatar
Dan Keeton
0 days ago
Chris Jordan.....excellent comment about accountable relationships. I would not survive without more than one person who has permission to hold me accountable for attitude and actions. Pastors need to have other pastors with whom they can be close and real with.
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
Fernando . . . You are a most unhappy servant of God, who feeds off of disrupting the peace of God in the hearts of God's family. You have been judgemental, and now allow me to respond to your lack of civility in a Chrisian discourse. Whenever I see your name come up for a comment, I say, "Oh, no, here comes trouble again." Knowing your psyche, by reading your mind on blog, you will take these comments as a personal attack, as you have been tempted as in the past to go into the attack mode. Please don't do that this time. I beg you, for Jesus sake, Be a peace maker.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, I notice you do a lot of deflecting. That's not a good sign for you. Repeating my argument, but putting my name on it, doesn't actually count as a response. Nevertheless, your point about me is valid, and it is well taken. I really am trying to understand your point of view, so I would appreciate it if you could give me a little more background. Do you know many people that are "victimized" by Mr. Noble? How are they victimized? Please let me know. I look forward to your response.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Fernando...my point is that we all have things we do besides preaching and preparing to preach. You read articles by Perry Noble and think they're good...I prefer to listen to podcasts of guys that know what good doctrine is instead of him. Fact is, anyone who has a pastor that listens to this guy, or thinks that it's smart to play "Highway to Hell" for their Easter service because Perry did it has been victimized by him. Guys like him are what's wrong with the church today, and we ought not to be acting like he's a great teacher or preacher.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, First of all, I've never said I think Mr. Noble's articles are good. You are assuming that. Once again, you are deflecting, which is a classic sign of someone who knows they are losing an argument. Second, it's a simple question, and the fact that you cannot answer it speaks volumes. Do you know anyone in your flock that has been victimized by Mr. Noble? Yes or no? If not, then why are you singling out Mr. Noble? I'm genuinely curious to understand why you are so obsessed with him.
Zachary Bartels avatar
Zachary Bartels
0 days ago
#11, you play "Highway to Hell" on Easter morning just to "p*ss off the religious people."
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Zachary Bartels, if you listen to Mr. Noble's entire message in context, instead of clips that are put together by people who are biased against him, you'll see that his reasoning is a bit more substantive than that. Now, since people think they have me all figured out based on the comments I've made on here, I have to state for the record that I personally don't agree with his reasoning, and I wouldn't do something like that at my own churches. BUT I do understand why HE did it, even if I don't agree. And, really, whether I or k b or anyone else agrees or disagrees with him is ultimately irrelevant, since Mr. Noble is not accountable to me or to k b or anyone here. In the end, Mr. Noble is accountable to God alone. That doesn't mean we can't express our opinions on his ministry. He is a public figure, and he has chosen the degree to which he is a public figure; so he's fair game. But let's base our opinions on substance, not sound bites. Unfortunately, most of what k b offers is sound bites, not substance; which is a shame because I think he would have so much more credibility, and would have much more to contribute to these discussions, if he focused on substance.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Fernando....why do you think peopel are "biased against him"? Maybe it's because he does stupid stuff like play "Highway to Hell" to "p*)) off religious people"? It is interesting that in 2 different interviews 21 days apart he first said it wasn't to "p*)) of religous people"...then he later said it was to "P*)) off religious people". Those are his words--not mine. Now...I get it that we may disagree on methodology...but it has been demonstrated that he lied in at least one of the 2 interviews. We've got 2 directly conflicting quotes from him.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, it is easy for you to hide in anonymity behind your initials, without everything you say being cut up into clips and posted on youtube. Now, I know you have not chosen to be a public figure; and like I said earlier, Mr. Noble has. Then again, since he is a public figure, he has a larger and more public body of work out there that can provide context for his "sound bites." So I looked up a link you posted a few weeks back of the interview and the message where he addressed the issue of playing "Highway to Hell." And of course, the video you linked to was of two short clips removed from their context. Let me ask you this: have you ever listened to the ENTIRE interview and/or the ENTIRE message? Well, I looked around and I did find the entire message and listened to it. I wasn't able to find the entire interview; although I suppose if I was interested enough, I'd be able to find that, too. This is the conclusion you reached by listening to the SOUND BITES: "Those are his words--not mine....but it has been demonstrated that he lied in at least one of the 2 interviews. We've got 2 directly conflicting quotes from him." But after listening to the actual CONTENT, I reached a different conclusion. Now this was a couple of weeks ago that I heard it, so I may be wrong. But from what I remember, what I understood him to be saying is that it is not his intention to offend religious people just for the sake of offending religious people (what he said in the interview). But sometimes you may feel God calling you to do things that will offend religious people, and you just have to do it, without worrying about how the religious people will react (what he said in the message). So reducing everything he said about that subject to "two directly conflicting quotes from him" ignores the entire context. Again, FOR THE RECORD: I don't agree with his decision to play that song. I understand his reason for doing it, but at least in my own context, I wouldn't have made that decision. But loving our enemies--as Jesus commands us to do--includes being fair even to those we disagree with. So in closing, I ask you again, have you listened to the ENTIRE interview and/or the ENTIRE message? Please don't deflect this time, as you did when you never answered the question of whether you personally knew anyone who had been victimized by Mr. Noble.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Under what circumstance can you possibly think that 2 completely contradictory statements like that can be made and both be correct?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
First, answer my question. Then I will answer yours. Have you listened to the ENTIRE interview and/or the ENTIRE message?
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
I have heard the entire sermon in question, as well as quite a bit of the interview. Having said that, the 2 statements were specific enough.....under what circumstance would you suggest they were not contradictory?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, excellent. Here we go then: first, in the clip of the interview, Mr. Noble explains that he doesn't just sit around thinking of ways to offend religious people, and ideas such as playing "Highway to Hell" are not for shock value, but rather are a result of prayer and seeking God's guidance. In the message he spoke at "Unleash," he again repeated that he got the idea of playing the song as a result of prayer. So far, no contradiction. Now, in his message to "Unleash," he does make the statement, "Every once in a while, I have this thought: We've got to piss off the religious people." But go back to the context. The whole point of that part of the message was that we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zone for the sake of reaching out the lost. His point, by the way, is valid. Now, whether him playing "Highway to Hell" during an Easter service is an appropriate application of that principle can be debated. But you better believe that there were a lot of Jewish Christians who were offended by Paul and others who freely ate with uncircumcised gentile Christians. So, what I hear Mr. Noble saying is that he's not trying to offend, just for the sake of offending. But we must also be willing to make religious people uncomfortable, and even make ourselves uncomfortable, if through prayer and God's guidance we are led to do so for the sake of the lost. Could he have communicated that idea more precisely? Sure, but imprecision of speech is not exactly a sin. What I'm trying to say is that if you take those two sound bites devoid of their context, then yes, he appears to contradict himself. If you look at them in context, not so much, anymore.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
So "we do" suddenly = "we don't". Is that what you're going with? And besides this punk is not who we should look to for leadership. He has a track record of saying and doing some pretty stupid things even without this incident.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, are you even listening to what I'm saying? I'm saying, quite simply, LOOK AT THE CONTEXT!!!!!!! (Please do not interpret this as frustration or anger, as I can assure you it is not. Interpret this, rather, as me trying to emphasize something that I don't have a clue how to emphasize more than I already have.) The context is what gives meaning to words. Your posts show no evidence that you have engaged with the context of either the interview or the message. They come off as written by someone who's already made up his mind that the sun revolves around the earth because he sees the sun go up every day and is unwilling to change his mind even when confronted by scientific evidence that proves the opposite is in fact true. Let me go at this from a different angle. What I see you doing is something like this: Rom 3:28 reads, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." But Jas 2:26 reads, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." Aha! The Bible is contradicting itself! There it is, clear as a bell. "But wait!" someone says. "Look at the context of those two passages, and you'll see that they are actually in harmony with each other." And then I respond, "Oh, so 'justified by faith' suddenly equals 'justified by works'?" That's how your response comes off as.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
I have looked at the context--and listened to it. Have you? Can you explain to me how under ANY context that 2 completely contradictory statements can be reconciled?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
k b, I have. Twice. Show me where I'm wrong. And simply saying, "You're wrong and I'm right" doesn't count.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Well, the weekend is upon us, so I guess we're going to have to leave it at that. I don't expect you to change your opinions about Mr. Noble. You are certainly entitled to them. But I hope at some point you come to understand that sometimes, things aren't always as black and white as we think they are. And even a broken clock is right twice a day. I encourage all of us to have the humility to recognize that there are other ways of looking at things that are just as valid as our own. Let's try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Blessings on you all this weekend!
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
#15 For the first time in my ministry, I have heard someone pray to one who is not my Father in Heaven, for His will could not be done on earth as you write your religious language. If your tongue offend you, . . . . . .
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
Fernando . . . Expand your thoughts, for the earthy, not earthly language was not from above, but from beneath where the other throne exists. I am always open to dialog, but not argumentation. Ok?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Dr. Kauffman, I'm not quite following what you're trying to say...could you please clarify yourself?
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
Fernando . . . Do you mean #'s 27 or 28?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
I mean the one you addressed to me: #28.
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
So sorry, Fernando . . . # 28 is an internal computer error that I did not know went to previous text after, I typed your name, and erased all of the text I wrote you. That text is lost, for I looked through every possible file. These computers designed by us, act just like us. "Like father, like son." So Sorry!
Mark Plaugher avatar
Mark Plaugher
0 days ago
And we wonder why there is confusion in the pews. Wow!
Mark Plaugher avatar
Mark Plaugher
0 days ago
And we wonder why there is confusion in the pews. Wow!
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
Mark, #34, I said I was sorry. So, I repeat it, "I am sorry." With tongue in cheek, if you wish to make a pastoral visit and lay hands on me, you are most welcome, for we all need His help in our imperfections. Ok?
Cameron Buchanan avatar
Cameron Buchanan
0 days ago
Thank you Perry for a great piece of insight, and for the personal transparency you've shown here. I've sent this link out via my Facebook page to get them reading! Also, I'm a bit concerned that there has been so much bickering on a post that is actually quite helpful. This post bit is supposed to be feedback on an article, not a critique of the person. Wanna go do that - set up your own blog and go nuts, and I'll hopefully see you in the news getting sued somewhere down the line!
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Ironically, Cameron...you're doing the very thing you are criticizing others for. Please don't judge us. Our complaint with Perry is that he is the last person that pastors should be looking to for guidance on how to do their jobs more effectively. The fact that sermoncentral prints his articles speaks bad about this site.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Dr. Kauffman, sorry for the delayed response, I was called away on a family emergency...but, yeah, no problem. I can certainly relate to computers doing weird things! Blessings to you!
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
kb, I don't want to get into another prolonged discussion, but I just want to say that it is unrealistic to expect this website only to publish pastors that you agree with. There WILL be various points of view presented, which is a good thing. So I would encourage you either to get used to that and respond with substantive arguments, or find another place that is more to your liking. Life is too short to spend it on things we don't like!

So, what did you think?


Thank you.