Editor’s Note

Journal
07.17.2018

Every job has its occupational hazards. Loggers lose fingers. Businessmen go bankrupt. Wrestlers grow cauliflower ears.

What about pastors? Pastors experience burnout. Burnout isn’t so much about physical depletion, though that may be a variable. It’s about spiritual depletion. You spend all day ministering to people. But now you don’t possess the emotional and spiritual resources to continue ministering. You’re like a gas station with no gasoline left. Or a candle whose wick has burned down low.

I’ve had conversations recently with church members who raise their eyebrows at the topic of burnout. And understandably so. Paul speaks of laboring day and night (1 Thess. 2:9). He poured himself out like a drink offering (2 Tim. 4:6). He experienced beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger (2 Cor. 6:5). The man left it all out on the field.

But today, website after website talks about protecting pastors. And so here is 9Marks with our own contribution to this growing field of literature. Maybe our industry is growing soft? Maybe seminaries are churning out snowflakes?

If you’re someone looking for a safe space, separated from the world’s trauma, the pastorate is not for you. Nor is this 9Marks Journal. Pastoral work is and will remain emotionally grueling, physically exhausting, and spiritually fraught. Different men have different capacities, but you should give whatever you have as a sacrifice of praise. You should pour yourself out.

Christ expects this of every Christian (1 John 3:16). And yet, as a minister, you will model it for others (see 1 Thess. 2:8).

With those cautions firmly in place, however, you remain finite. You will reach the end of yourself. The psalmist, too, often reached the end of himself: “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Ps. 69:3). Maybe “burnout” is just our pop-psychologized way of talking about where the psalmist so often lived. And the psalmist’s cries, remember, point typologically to the One who spent everything (Ps. 69:7–9, 21).

Did Jesus, the Good Shepherd, experience burnout? I guess it depends on how you define burnout. But, no, he never lost the desire to minister, to give, and to love. And that’s good news for you and me. You and I aren’t Jesus. Only he perfectly rested in the Father, and only he was perfectly filled by the Spirit. Though Jesus tired physically, he always burned bright with love and grace. Worship him!

The end of burnout, the revivifying of your soul, won’t solely come through physical rest or a Sabbath. It will come through resting in the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 11:28–30; 12:8).

Therefore, of all the commendable pieces in this Journal, start with Nick Roark’s. He lays out passage after passage from his favorite Puritans, those old doctors to the soul. Each of them speaks to the burned-out saint, and each ministers by pointing to nothing other than Christ. Christ is our refreshment, our ministry, our fire, our life.

The Pastor and Pornography

The Pastor and Pornography

October 2018
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Pastoral Burnout: Its Causes & Cures

July 2018
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Church Life: Our True Political Witness

Spring 2018
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Church Discipline: Medicine for the Body

January 2018
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The Reformation and Your Church

Fall 2017
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Church Mergers and Plants

Summer 2017
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Pastoring Singles

Spring 2017
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Healthy Churches around the World

Fall / Winter 2016
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Authority: God’s Good and Dangerous Gift

Summer/Fall 2016
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The Church Praying

Spring 2016
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Confessions, Covenants, and Constitutions: How to Organize Your Church

Winter 2016
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Missions: Adding Wisdom to Zeal

Fall 2015
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Multi-Ethnic Churches

Summer/Fall 2015
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Expositional Preaching

Spring 2015
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Complementarianism & the Local Church

Winter 2015
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Vanishing Church?

Fall 2014
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Biblical Theology: Guardian and Guide of the Church

Summer 2014
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The Church Singing

May–June 2014
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Prosperity Gospel

January–February 2014
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Evangelism – Part 2

November–December 2013
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Evangelism – Part 1

September–October 2013
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Is Scripture Enough?

July–August 2013
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Church and Churches

May—June 2013
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Pastoring Christians for the Workplace

March—April 2013
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Lay Elders: A User’s Guide—Part 2

Jan—Feb 2013
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Lay Elders: A User’s Guide – Part 1

November—December 2012
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Discipling in the Church

September—October 2012
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Mercy Ministry in the Church

July—August 2012
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Wanted: Apostolic Pastors

May—June 2012
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The Underestimated Doctrine of Conversion

March—April 2012
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Don’t Be Too Cool for Sunday School

January—February 2012
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Revitalize: Why We Must Reclaim Dying Churches—and How

November—December 2011
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The Pastor and his Staff, Part 2

September—October 2011
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The Pastor and his Staff, Part 1

July—August 2011
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Church Membership: Holding the Body Together

May—June 2011
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Church and Parachurch: Friends or Foes?

March—April 2011
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Pastoral Moves

January—February 2011
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Book Reviews on the Mission of the Church

November—December 2010
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Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality

September—October 2010
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Pastoring Women

July—August 2010
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Deacons

May—June 2010
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A New Evangelical Liberalism

January—February 2010

Church Discipline (Part 2)

November—December 2009

Church Discipline (Part 1)

September—October 2009

Missions

July—August 2009

Multi-site Churches

May—June 2009

Young Pastors

March–April 2009

Raising Up the Next Generation of Pastors

January–February 2009

Counseling in the Church

November–December 2008

Family & Parenting

September–October 2008

Marriage & Pastor’s Wives

July—August 2008

Living As a Church

May–June 2008

Cooperation

March–April 2008

Corporate Prayer

January–February 2008

Church & Culture

November–December 2007

Race and Ethnicity

September—October 2007

The Gospel

July–August 2007

Preaching

May–June 2007

Elders (Part 2)

March–April 2007

Hospitality & Friendship

January 2007

Elders (Part 1)

February 2007

Biblical Theology

November–December 2006

The Church’s Mission

October 2006

The Emerging Church

September 2006

Miscellaneous Articles

December 1999