Emotional Budgets

In the space of nine months or so, I had a pastor in one of my centers leave his wife, daughter and newborn son and cross over to the dark side. He moved in with a woman to whom he was giving marriage counseling, started taking recreational drugs, smoking and drinking. He blew out big time. I had to try and sort out the aftermath. Later that year I had to fire another of my pastors in another center as he was simply undermining me and our organization and was failing in his duties.

Then to cap it off, my youth pastor decided he no longer wanted to be under my leadership after I challenged him on his relationship with his PA. I fired him and he left, taking his PA with him, my childrens pastor, his family, and my youth music director and his wife to allegedly plant a church 250 miles away. Within months he had an affair with his PA and left his wife. Never a dull moment in church life!

As leaders we are looking at budgets all the time making sure we stay in the black – not in the red. Problem is, we only look at it from the money angle.

The way I understand what happened to me is that we all have an emotional budget. There is emotional energy in, and emotional energy out. If you live at zero or in the red for an extended period, you’ll go bankrupt and anyone who’s bankrupt knows it’s a long journey out of bankruptcy. That’s how I understand burnout.

I’m getting better all the time at knowing what my emotional budget is looking like. I know when I’m starting to deplete. I understand better what depletes me and the “cost” of various tasks, responsibilities, relationships or events. I also know what feeds my bank account so I can make deposits.

To recover from depression, means making sure there’s more emotional strength in than out over an extended period (about the same length of time that it took you to erode your balance into the red).

For pastors who are trained to push through, persevere, ignore their emotions (because only faith counts), never say die, we are just a burnout waiting to happen.

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One Response

  1. I so get what you mean about emotional bank accounts. Being a professional caregiver, and a person who cant say, “No”, and has no friendships or romances to speak of….. it’s a concept I understand only too well.

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