Fight Pastoral Fatigue with Forward Movement
Fall fatigue is common in pastors. But why? It’s a time of the year when the congregation is back in the building, Bible studies are in full swing… the church is busy. So why are pastors lagging? Fall fatigue in pastors can be an indicator of how well the church is staying on mission.

Written By Robert E Logan

Christian Coaching Pioneer, Strategic Ministry Catalyst, Resource Developer, Empowering Consultant : Logan Leadership

Reasons abound for why pastors may be experiencing fatigue in the fall—or at any time of the year. It’s a tough job and fatigue slows forward movement. Perhaps they have been pressing too hard or skipped taking a summer vacation and simply need to recharge. Maybe there is more to it and it’s time to speak with a therapist or a coach. Another reason pastors lose steam in ministry in the fall is because as they look back over the previous months and the current happenings and find that they are no closer to seeing their vision realized than they were at the beginning of the year.

Sound familiar? Know anyone like this? It may be one of your coaching clients or even you personally. Here’s how to help. 

Fall Fatigue Diagnosis

fall fatigue and coaching pastors forward

First help the person accurately diagnose the problem. Examine some of the possible reasons above and see what really seems to resonate. Doing this first ensures you’re addressing the right root issue. If vision drift and lack of progress are part of the picture, keep reading.  

Ministries, like people, get distracted and fall into ruts. Trying to dig oneself out often results in a deeper hole. Trying to spur your fellow rut-mates to climb out somehow morphs into keeping them content. Programming for programming’s sake is a waste of energy. 

5 Steps to Ensure Your Plans Move Your Vision Forward

There is no greater refreshment for pastoral fatigue of this kind than re-engaging with calling, mission, and vision–and then spending time strategizing forward movement. If this is you or sounds like one of your coaching clients, don’t wait for the New Year. Start planning for 2024 now. 

1. Clarify Vision

For most senior leaders, vision is energizing. They love spending time dreaming, envisioning, and fine-tuning. Although some of that can be done alone, having the right people in the room can dramatically improve the process. Get together with some other positive, visionary people who aren’t afraid of trying new things. What you don’t need at this stage is people telling you “It can’t be done.” Start by focusing on the positive and imagining all God may have for you and for this ministry.  

Coaching Questions

  1. How does your vision of ministry look different than the current reality?
  2. In what ways are people changed?
  3. What results are you most excited about?

2. Run an Alignment Test

Now it’s time for a bit of assessment. Look at each program or ministry and determine how—or if–it is moving the mission forward. How is it contributing to the vision? If it’s not, you may need to retire or significantly change that program–even if it’s popular. Your organization can’t be all things to all people: it must be on-mission. 

Coaching Questions

  1. How does each ministry, program, and event contribute to the clarified vision?
  2. Which ministries, programs, events are the most effective at moving the mission forward?
  3. What changes need to be made?
  4. When are you going to make those changes?
  5. Who will be responsible to carry out the changes?

3. Schedule Changes

Some changes will almost certainly need to be made; now is the time of being intentional about them. Decide exactly what needs to be done and when. It’s important to strategically set a date in advance and manage all parts of the project–and its communication–so everything is in place. Ready, Fire, Aim may seem like action at first but forward movement will come to a halt whenever plans ended. 

Coaching Questions

  1. What needs to be in place in order to implement the change?
  2. Who do you need to gain buy-in with?
  3. What obstacles might you encounter? How can you prepare for them?

4. Prepare for Transition

Even when a change is good, people need support going through a transition. They are feeling what they are losing without yet seeing what they may be gaining. It will take time to return to the new normal, and people will need relational shepherding along the way. Remember that different people will experience the change differently, so consider as many perspectives as possible.

Coaching Questions

  1. What will people lose when this change occurs?
  2. How will you honor and mourn their loss?
  3. What support will they need to transition to the new normal?
  4. How can they contribute during the transition and prepare for the new normal?

5. Empower Change-makers

Those who are supportive of the change can be your allies. Be sure you are supporting them and releasing them to the best of your ability. It can be tempting to hold back, thinking you yourself must directly lead all changes. That’s not true. Never underestimate the power of changemakers. They can bring about important tidal shifts in public opinion as they champion new ways of doing things. 

Coaching Questions

  1. Who do you need on your team?
  2. What will you delegate to them?
  3. How will you invest in their personal development?
  4. What steps will you take to create an environment where it’s safe to take risks?

Resources

Change Management Effectiveness Profile– If your client (or even you) wants change to stick this time, before initiating them examine how well they manage change. Everyone has room to grow. This competency-based questionnaire has been designed to help people understand more about their skills or abilities in critical areas of change management. It will provide a picture of their overall ability and help determine where to target development activities in order to improve essential skills.

Change Management Skills Builder- This skill builder can be used as a personal or an organizational process. It can also be used to help people walk through major life changes at work or at home.

Photo by Malachi Cowie on Unsplash

Cover Photo by Francesco Califano on Unsplash

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