top of page

Preventing Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

What is Burnout?


Burnout is a state of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional exhaustion caused by extended and intense levels of stress, causing the body to over-produce adrenaline. It leads to the questioning of one's abilities and/or the value of one's work


What is Compassion Fatigue?


Compassion fatigue is defined as a natural consequence and by-product of caring for, listening to and helping those traumatized or learning about and hearing stories of those traumatized.

What are Key Signs of Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Pastors:


Common Symptoms of Burnout:

  • Chronic fatigue, hopelessness, disillusionment, anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, depression, isolation, harshness towards colleagues or parishoners, pervasive negativity and cynicism, a reduced commitment to work


What Are The Main Causes of Burnout:


  • Working too long and hard without a break.

  • Reaching a goal after long hard work and not having a vision or purpose to go forward from there. (Very typical after a church building program).

  • Feeling you are betrayed by those you are serving.

  • Feeling betrayed by those you are serving under.

  • Having done all you can in a position or place but not letting go or move on.

  • Feeling used or not cared for.

  • Sin, unconfessed and unrepented.

  • Wrong priorities in the use of time and energy. (Becoming a workaholic).

  • Violating the weekly "Sabbath" principle.

  • Being on duty 24/7.

  • Disappointment and disillusionment with a leader you have faithfully served.

  • Failure of a project or ministry you have invested of yourself very heavily in.

  • Frustration with others.

  • Unfulfilled expectations of success, recognition or reward.Lack of focus.

  • Energies and activities scattered in too many directions.

  • Trying to do the job you are not called, gifted or properly trained to do.

  • Working for the wrong motives.

  • In over your head without adequate support.

  • Occupying a position rather than fulfilling the call.


What Are The Common Consequences of Burnout:


Burnout is emotional exhaustion. Burnout can cause you to give up on something you have passionately committed to.


Burnout can cause you to:

  • Leave your church too soon.

  • Quit doing what God has called you to do.

  • Give up on your dreams.

  • Change your attitude and personality.

  • Damage your most important relationships.

  • Be lead to moral failure and sexual sin

Key Facts about Burnout & Compassion Fatigue: (from pastoralcareinc)


  •  33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
  • 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
  • 45% of pastors' wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
  • 45% of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
  • 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health.
  • 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.· 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.


Contact me if…

  • You would like to learn more about the relevance of burnout/compassion fatigue in your life and/or in your ministry


  • You would like for me to conduct a training in-service to your church leadership about the importance of knowing the signs of burnout/compassion fatigue and having a preventative plan in place


  • You would like for me to conduct a church community presentation to your church members about the importance of balance as individuals, families and a larger church community


  • You would like to know about more resources available in regards to preventing burnout/compassion fatigue and ways of dealing with the fallout of it has already happened


  • You have any questions or suggestions that are not covered in this section or the featured articles offered.

Featured Articles 

(Click to view  list)

bottom of page