A Mini-Memoir of Pastoral Burnout

Today I have a piece up at Fathom Mag on my experience of pastoral burnout. Here’s the intro:

I knelt on the floor of my study all night, my forehead pressed into the carpet, my fists pressed against my temples. I pulled my hair and wept until I fell asleep, exhausted. Waking in a fetal position, I remembered where I was and what I faced and begged, “Lord, please . . . please . . . please . . . send someone else.”

I pressed my face into the floor and sobbed, no longer able to pray with words. Tears and snot and saliva soaked my beard and the carpet. Alone in the darkness, I didn’t care. 

A faint light shone through the blinds but the rising sun did not bring hope. I wiped my face and tasted blood. Weeping face down through the night, the capillaries in my nose had broken and bled into the cream carpet. Time was up. I had to shower. I had to dress. I had to go to church. I had to preach. 

In the early morning light, I knelt with rags and carpet cleaner and scrubbed the spot until it changed from crimson to white. The words of the prophet repeated in my head, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”

Although that was the last time I bled into the carpet, it was not the last time I met Sunday morning with a breakdown. I didn’t want to preach. I didn’t want to pastor. I didn’t want to live. 

Read the rest here.

Seeing Down Both Sides of the Street

Several years ago, I went for a long walk in my wife’s hometown while staying there on vacation. As I looked down the sidewalk, I noticed a well-to-do looking woman walking toward me. As she reached the intersection a block ahead, she crossed the street. Then she continued to walk in the same direction. I assumed she lived on that side of the street. At the end of the block, I glanced back. Once past me, she crossed back to my side of the street and continued on her way.

I wondered for a moment at her action. Why had she crossed the street? There was no mud or broken sidewalk or dogs to avoid. Then it dawned on me—she crossed the street to avoid me.

I wondered at that for a moment. Why did this woman want to avoid me?

Then it hit me.

Continue reading “Seeing Down Both Sides of the Street”