Ten Ways to Bless and Encourage Your Pastor’s Wife

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In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, we want to spread the love to our pastors’ wives as well.  This post was written by Rachel over at www.holyhenhouse.com.  Drop by a see what other wonderful things she has to say.

 

It’s been three years since my husband began his full time ministry.

From the moment Josh stood in the pulpit on that first hot July Sunday, I’ve been know as “the pastor’s wife” in our little town. In these three short years, I have been learning and growing so much as I serve alongside and support my husband! There have been struggles and hurdles, of course, but joy and blessings overflow.

Our wonderful church family has made my role an easy one by caring for, respecting, and loving me (and my family) so well. I am so thankful for that! I am truly in awe of their kindness and generosity. The heart of Jesus shines so brightly through them. After being inspired by that love, I created a list of ways I have been blessed and encouraged by the people of our church and I wanted to share it with you. Please know that these suggestions are not meant to be self serving. Perhaps they will help you to understand your own pastor’s wife a bit better? And maybe even give you ideas for ways to bless her!

1. Give her grace. Here’s a little secret – she’s not perfect! : ) She is no different than you or anyone else sitting in the pew. She can’t do it all, serve in every way, be at everything, and remember every single thing. She has struggles and hurts and insecurities. And if she’s anything like me, she messes up sometimes and needs forgiveness.

2. Respect their family time. With meetings, visits, teaching, studying and sermon writing, Josh is pulled in many directions and can be working anytime from the hours of 6am to 11pm, seven days a week. His days and evenings are very full so when he is home, he is home. Our family time is a priority to him and he is intentional about scheduling in that time together. There are occasional calls that come in during dinner or in the late evening, but for the most part that time is spent without interruption.

3. Accept and celebrate her for who she is. She doesn’t play the organ or piano? No biggie! She doesn’t lead a ladies Bible class the same way as the previous pastor’s wife? Not a problem! She runs into church at the bells with wet hair and a toddler on her hip who’s cramming crackers in his mouth? Hey, she made it!! That last one certainly never happens me me. ; )

4. Spoil her a bit. It certainly doesn’t have to be often and it doesn’t have to be much – a sweet card in her mailbox, little present, tickets to a local event, gift card for a restaurant or grocery store, or bouquet of flowers are all things that let your pastor’s wife know I’m thinking of you and appreciate you. I guarantee she will be oh so thankful and that you will make.her.day.

5. Don’t involve her in church gossip. Not only is it wrong and yucky to spread rumors and such, it’s also extremely uncomfortable and discouraging for the pastor’s wife to be put in a situation when one member is talking badly about another member. I’ve only experienced this a tiny handful of times and I pray I’ve handled it in a God-pleasing way.

6. Invite her along. Whether it’s meeting for a quick coffee, lunch with a group of gals, or a fun day at the lake, don’t be afraid to extend an invitation! Pastor’s wives are in need of and crave fun, friendship, and fellowship, too. Inviting her along opens up a door to get to know her on a deeper level. That being said, if she declines an invitation, don’t get frustrated or take it personally that she has to pass this time!

7. Offer to do something/provide something. Baby-sitting for the evening. Veggies from your garden. Hand-me-down kids clothes. Dry cleaning the pastor’s white church robe. Picking up a kiddo from soccer practice. Chocolate chip cookies. The list could go on and on! It’s likely that your pastor’s family doesn’t live near relatives, so having people offer these simple, but wonderful things can definitely make them feel more at home.

8. Keep it positive. Please don’t speak negatively about the pastor to her or complain about a church issue that is out of her control. Those are things you need to take directly to the pastor himself. I have not had to deal with this myself, but I can see how this would be extremely stressful, discouraging, and disappointing for a pastor’s wife.

9. Praise her husband in front of her. What wife doesn’t want to hear nice things about her wonderful hubby?! Hearing positive feedback about an event my husband planned, a sermon he gave, or an impact he made makes me smile. I am so proud of Josh and it’s a terrific feeling when others acknowledge his hard work and dedication as well.

10. Pray for her. This is the most important thing! Feel free let her know that you are doing so. She loves you dearly and having you pray would mean the world to her!

Is there anything you would add to this list? Or if you are a pastor’s wife, what is a way you have been encouraged and blessed?

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Burnout Prevention (part 2)

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This is the second of a two part article written by Angie Buchanan.

I’m going to share with you some of the things I have found to be helpful in combating burnout. These are things that we should, as ministers, be doing all the time, but would be especially important during times when you’re not at your best.

  1. Find a mentor, confidante, or friend. I don’t care what you call it. Just get someone you can talk to, and do it fast. I like to    find someone I both trust and respect as a minister. I have had too many people give me bad advice in past years, I will no longer seek advice from someone whose ministry I do not respect. Be honest with this person about the positives, and the negatives. Let them speak into your life. (Bonus if it’s someone you really enjoy spending time with, and especially if they can make you laugh!)
  2. Evaluate your self-care. Do you have a medical problem which needs to be addressed? Hormones and blood sugar are two things that impact my mood, but there are many other possible culprits. If you’re not up to date on physical exams, try to get to the doctor. If you have a known medical issue, definitely get to the doctor. Don’t neglect yourself.
  3. Give yourself a break. Take some time away. If you can’t remember the last vacation you had, date night you had with your spouse, or free activity you did for yourself, that’s a problem. Be intentional in scheduling time for yourself, your               spouse, and your children. (Observing the Sabbath is a commandment for a reason.)
  4. Take advantage of perspective-shifters. Camp helped me with this, my conversation with Liz helped me with this, and my vacation helped me with this. These are all great, but look for what could work in your own life. A good                                  conference every year or two can be of utmost value.
  5. Extend grace to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over your downfalls, or even the fact that you might be experiencing burnout. Recognize it as something that happens when we don’t take steps to prevent it, and then deal with it. This is a                      normal thing that many ministers can relate to, if we are honest.
  6. Don’t neglect your Jesus-time. Your personal devotional time is a necessary tool in keeping your heart soft, and renewing your mind. It’s hard to have a heart for leading people to Jesus when we aren’t feeling close to Jesus ourselves. Don’t let this fall prey to your time preparing sermons and devotions for those in your ministry. Put your devotional time first… spend some time lingering in the word for no reason other than just to feed your spirit.

Do you have other tips to avoiding and combating burnout? I’d like to hear them! I pray that you value yourself, your family, and those within your ministry to be watchful of these situations, and take action to avoid them!

Burnout Prevention (part 1)

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This is the first of a two part article written by Angie Buchanan. Angie Buchanan serves with her husband as youth pastors of a local church.  When she isn’t ministering to teens, caring for her husband, or wrangling her three children, she uses all her abundant spare time to pursue a BA in Community Counseling.

 

 

By the grace of God, I have never intentionally punched a student. (There was that one time that a kid threw a ball at my chest and knocked the wind out of me, so my reflexes kind of… got his nose, but I don’t count that.) But I can’t say that times don’t creep up on me where I find myself talking through gritted teeth to keep from snapping. That’s when I know something is wrong.

Mostly, I’m really thankful to be in ministry. I love it. Working with kids and youth feeds my soul, and I believe with everything in me that it’s what we are called to do. But other times, I’m not thankful. I get frustrated, exhausted, and whiny. I have a big, slouchy pair of grumpy-pants that I pull out of the back of my spiritual closet to wear in these times.

Recently, I was experiencing a time in which I was finding myself wearing my grumpy-pants more and more. There is a particular demographic of students which are prone to bring that side out, and I had an abundance of interaction with several very difficult students in that age and gender range over a few months’ time. …and then it was time to go to youth camp.

Not a single part of me wanted to go to camp. Well, okay. The part of me that knows I always am blessed and thankful once camp is in session wanted to go. But that part was deep, deep down inside, and mostly, I just wanted to stay home with my own kiddos. But I did what a good youth pastor’s wife would do (or so they tell me) and I went to camp. Last year, I was sad that the coaches had a separate area from the students at our new camp. I felt like it left us out of the conversations that happen amongst the students, and affected the amount of bonding we are able to do at camp. This year, I was thankful for the new setup.

I found myself hiding in the bathroom whenever there was time, just to escape the chatter. I remember saying, “I’m too old for this. God, I don’t want to NOT do this…. I can’t imagine anything else, but this isn’t fair to the kids.” And then I saw Liz.

Liz is a pastor’s wife who has to be in her 50’s, and she is still active in girls’ ministries. Liz was at camp with a group of girls, and I know she has been doing this for way longer than I have, so I had to corner her. I pulled her aside in the commons area of our dorm late one night, when our girls were safe in the room, probably complaining about their grouchy coaches. (Well, mine, at least. Probably not Liz’s girls.)

I asked Liz what her secret was for being able to be successful in girls’ ministries for so many years. Liz laughed, and said she was probably the last person I should be talking to about this, because she has struggled with it as well. She listened to my frustrations, empathized, and then asked me how my hormones are. (A valid point. I’ve known they were out of whack for awhile. I have an upcoming appointment with my doctor to have it addressed.)

I don’t remember everything Liz said, but the conversation definitely helped my perspective. The Lord continued working on my heart, and as the week went on, I found myself enjoying my girls once again. I was back in the place of wanting to love them, and shepherd them. Liz came to me after our initial conversation and said that the Lord impressed on her heart to tell me that I needed to do something fun, just for me. Take some time away and do something I could enjoy. We had an upcoming vacation scheduled, which definitely helped.

I am now several months out of that little scare, in which I actually considered whether my foul attitude would cause my husband and I to not be able to continue in ministry much longer. In retrospect, I began thinking about how to avoid that place in the future, because I definitely don’t want to end up there again.

 

See this bush?

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We have a mole in our yard. This bush has a root problem, thanks to the mole. In addition to this bush dying because the root problem was not addressed, if we allow the dead bush to remain there, it will begin to rot, and affect the bushes around it. Don’t let your burnout get to this point. Take care of your root problem.

Maybe your burnout symptoms aren’t as prominent as mine. I will readily admit that many people are much better at being meek and spiritual… it’s very possible you found yourself cringing at my admissions. Burnout, though, doesn’t look the same on everyone.

Evaluate who you are when you are passionate about ministry, fearless and doubtless in what you’re doing, and full of love for those you are ministering to. Then evaluate what you look like when you’re not at your best. Are you moody? Resentful? Whiney about things that come up that infringe on your personal life? Be honest with yourself, and get a good picture of what you look like in your “grumpy pants” so you can be aware of times that you might need to take some measures to get out of that funk!

 

Part two of today’s post will be posted Thursday, October 3.

Mommy Moore’s Sweater

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I have an electric blue mohair sweater hanging in my closet – the only memento I have of my Mommy Moore.  It’s an odd item for a tiny Pentecostal Holiness minister to own.  I can only imagine when it was purchased and where she chose to wear it.  Mommy Moore and her husband Poppy Moore pastored for more than fifty years – trading preaching and Sunday School responsibilities.  Long before the days of televangelists, it was a given that this was a co-pastor position, and that Poppy would also work a day job.  Bi-vocational wasn’t even a word yet, but that’s what they did.  Yet in everything they did, from carpentry, to preaching, to raising five children, joy was present.

I have a few items from my parents – mostly photos since I’m the fourth child.  I have Mom’s Bible, the leather cracked and worn soft in her strong yet gentle hands, pages highlighted, notated, loved.  It’s like the Velveteen Rabbit.  My brother has Dad’s Bible and his Commentaries.  My parents pastored in Oklahoma and Texas for about ten years.  Dad was also bi-vocational, a wallpaper hanger by trade.  Dad left the ministry when I was just a baby, hurt by his elder board and neglected by his supervisor.  His sadness about his experience aged into bitterness that eroded his life until he passed at the age of 66.

I have my brother still.  He pastored for thirty years and for a great deal of that time he was also bi-vocational. He and his wife are full of a deep, abiding joy and sweet spirit. Their faces become more beautiful with each passing year and they seem not to age at all.  Eric and Susan will tell you that it has been a privilege to serve together these years, but those they served will say the privilege was in having them as pastors.  Countless people all over the world testify of their wisdom, encouragement, and mentoring.

Three stories, three lives, three distinct experiences.  What made the difference?  It wasn’t money, leisure activities, or size of congregation.   Each of them studied the Word, prayed, felt a sincere call to ministry, and devoted their hearts and lives to the Church.  In retrospect it seems the difference was, at least in part, a Sabbath rest and a support system – denominational, relational, and personal.  

Interestingly, this is a theme that cuts across denominational and demographic lines.  The vast majority of pastors say they have no close friend or mentor, and take no personal Sabbath themselves on another day of the week.  When questioned, many reply that the demands of ministry don’t allow for either.

My family’s stories and those of pastors everywhere drive the ministry of Barnabas House.  What can you and I do to have a positive impact on our pastors in the areas of rest and relationship?  We can encourage, support, cheer, volunteer, and put action to the good thoughts we have toward our pastors.  We can forgive, change expectations, leave room for their Sabbath, promote healthy boundaries, and bless them with a weekend or a week long getaway.  We can understand that they are people – faulty, sometimes broken individuals that often don’t feel they can be real without risking their position.

This winter I will once again wrap myself in that scratchy, electric blue mohair sweater and the joy woven between each strand.  I will remember Mommy Moore’s legacy in our family and in so many others.  Because of her I will choose joy, rest, and relationship, and I will sow that into my pastor’s life. And I will build a place where other pastors can come to receive restoration, refreshment, and renewal. What will you do?

12 Words of Encourgement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

It’s Friday Forum!

12 Words of Encourgement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill a book or two…but at least more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one that I would give to all pastors, to answer his question. I’m sure there’s more (and you can help by adding yours), but this post is at least a start. Of course, wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader…some of them perhaps to any person.

Here are 12 words of encouragement for pastors:

Choose your friends wisely…but choose friends. Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.

The church can never love your family as much as you do. Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (You may want to read THIS POSTfrom my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you. You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else…for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing…but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence…use it well. The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry.

No amount of accountability or structure will keep you from temptation if you’re heart is impure. Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead. You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger. Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church. You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church. Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity. Not only will be honest about who you are help keep you from trying to meet unreal expectations, but it will help the people in your church be transparent with you and others. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it…not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy. If you try, you’ll be very unhappy…and very unproductive.

Now, make this post better. As you can count, there are only 11 here. I’m counting on you to add your best number 12.

What word of encouragement do you have for pastors (or other leaders)?

 

Ron Edmundson is a follower of Christ, husband, father, church-planter, pastor, writer, idea-man, strategic thinker, dreamer and teacher.  You can read more of his work and follow him at:

email – ron.edmondson@gmail.com

Google+ athttp://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson

Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson

Facebook atwww.facebook.com/ronaedmondson

My devotional site iswww.mustardseedministry.com

When It Hurts

It’s PK day at Apples of Gold/Barnabas House of Oklahoma.  Our first PK guest post comes from Kassie Rutherfold – full-time nanny (and writer, and student), part-time choreographer,
occasional dancer, and pastor’s kid from central Texas. 

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When It Hurts

“What do you mean he isn’t the pastor anymore?”

The rosary hanging from my rearview mirror swayed as I drove back to my dorm. I had just celebrated Easter at my godmother’s house in Tulsa, OK — my first Easter not spent visiting my family. I glanced at the face of Jesus staring back at me, and whispered a prayer. This phone call from my mother would mark the second ending of an era in a weekend: I was baptized and received into the Catholic church the night before, and now I was no longer a pastor’s kid. As a child I wondered what this moment would feel like. I didn’t resent being a PK. I did sometimes resent the pressure of being the praise and worship leader from the ages of 12-18, amidst puberty, high school, and college.

“Not for good,” mom amended. “He’s going on furlough. Pastor Cain* is taking over services for a while, but dad will still be in charge of big decisions. We need a break. He’ll be back by the end of the year.”

That much I couldn’t argue with. None of my family had taken a real vacation in over ten years.

My family poured their lifeblood into the church, a congregation in central Texas that originally met in the tiny office of my dad’s used car lot. As the church grew, I began leading worship at 12. My sister (the superior singer among us) helped out with vocals. My brother taught himself how to play the drums by trial, error, and attempting to follow my frantic, micro-managing hand signals from my perch at the keyboard.

The church became an extension of our family. The central element of our life. One woman on the music team called me her granddaughter. We counted the elder and his wife as Aunt and Uncle. Church staff shared holidays with us. They were there for birthdays, adoptions, and to listen when the tension between being a worship director and a teenager growing up in a pastor’s family hit the boiling point. While I planned a wedding during an engagement that ultimately collapsed and crumbled, several members of the staff were included with my family, without an ounce of hesitation.

There were challenges that we conquered, and challenges that threatened to crush us. We had stuck together, but by the time Easter 2011 rolled around, we were wearied and war-battered. The impact of exhaustion and the financial strain of church leadership could be felt 350 miles away, where I was attending college at Oral Roberts University. I knew it was even more stressful in the heart of the fire at home, and was grateful that my family had a chance to recover, to recharge, and to hit the ground running in 2012 with a fresh mission. We were happy, and we were hopeful.

We were very, very wrong.

My family, particularly my parents and teenaged siblings, faced betrayal over the next several months from the very people that we counted on as family. I could only listen as my brother and sister cried over the phone, their sweet spirits heartbroken over the lies that slowly poisoned their relationships with friends in the church.

I fought soul-drying bitterness, not for me, because I had the benefit of distance on my side. For my parents, who would give up anything for anybody, and worked themselves into the ground for a decade to keep a roof over our family’s head while providing spiritually, physically, and sometimes financially for the church body.

For my sweet siblings who were persecuted and demeaned by the very adults that were supposed to lead and guide them.

For the first time, I truly resented being a PK. I resented the thousands of hours poured into a church that now had the potential to destroy us. I resented the people who turned so quickly on the pastor that had given them a chance when the rest of the world considered them a societal casualty. I resented the fact that this time that was supposed to be a gift of preciously needed rest and renewal for my parents was turning into a nightmare we couldn’t shake off. I resented being unable to physically do anything to help them.

I’d like to say that a blinding epiphany happened. But it didn’t. What happened was a slow, steady poking and prodding. Angry, dirty, bitter pieces of my soul stripped away bit by bit with every prayer I prayed, every angry fit, every time I cried kneeling in my parish or tucked into one end of my best friend’s couch.

Healing happened, but it didn’t happen with the flashing lights of a Benny Hinn crusade. It happened with my family coming together, standing up and saying “We refuse to let our call die. We refuse to give up”. It happened when I found my identity in what God was calling me to do in the season of my life I’m living now, not clinging to what he called me to do in the past.

Healing happened when I stopped trying to make it happen.

I still fight to forgive everyone involved in what happened. But the words “Please, Jesus, help me forgive” are slowly being replaced with “I forgive you” whispered in the quiet of my soul.

As we approach the two year mark, my parents are back in ministry, and I can once more say I’m a PK without cringing. Because in all of the pruning and emotional calisthenics, I abandoned my dependence on the title as some kind of sacred spiritual credential. The important thing is running the race, not the number on your back.

*Name changed.

I Was A Burned Out Pastor

Today I’m so thankful for a wonderful writer and brother who shares his story of ministy with us – Darrell Vesterfelt.

I Was A Burned Out Pastor

One of the hardest conversations I have ever had in my life came the week after my birthday this year. I sat down my pastor and told him that I could no longer be a healthy individual and be a staff pastor at the church where I was serving.

I was burnt out, and I couldn’t do it anymore.

This was not the first time I had experienced “burn out” but it was different this time for one important reason. I was married — newly married — and the mistake I had made half a dozen times before, the subsequent “burn-out” I was experiencing, wasn’t just effecting me anymore. It was taking a toll on my wife.

When I agreed to join the staff team of this church, I told myself it was going to be different. I was going to finally “mature” and not leave angry, hurt and unfulfilled. So you can understand why I was so disappointed when circumstances led me to the same place of burn-out again.

I could feel it rising up in me, slowly. A familiar feeling.  Anger toward my church, my pastor, and an overwhelming hatred of my circumstances. I felt the urge to run from ministry — again.

But as angry as I was, it was becoming clear: I could no longer blame my circumstances for the way I felt. Several different churches. Several different leaders. Several different circumstances. Same resentment. Same burn-out.

The common denominator was me.

It was all my fault and I felt so ashamed.

As a single guy in ministry, it was really easy to take on 70 hours a week. I was the only one to suffer the consequences, and it felt good to work hard. I received constant praise for being the “hardest worker” which fueled me to work even harder. But as a newly-married person I was beginning to see the consequences of my actions.

My wife was stressed. I was stressed. Our marriage was stressed. We were tired, overwhelmed and it was creating an unhealthy foundation for our marriage.

Why had I done this to myself again?

This time I had to do something different. And because I wasn’t sure what else to do, I resolved to at least talk about it. I started conversations with my wife, my family and my pastor. I wanted to get to the root of the issue instead of running from these circumstances into yet another situation that would end just as tragically.

What I found, as I talked, was that I was insecure.

I was using my work (which happened to be for the church) as a validation for my wounded understanding of myself. I didn’t think I was worth much, so I was trying to prove my worth to God, to myself, and to others by contributing something of value to the church community.

I would have never admitted this out loud, since I knew that I was saved by grace not by my work in the church, but the story I was living wasn’t in line with what I believed.

My insecurity was causing me to be really arrogant.

It hurt me, and it hurt other people, and the only way to fix it was to start being honest with myself.

There are two really important lessons I’ve learned about burn-out in this season.

First, I’m less likely to burn out if I’m doing what I was made to do, what I love to do, instead of what other people expect me to do, or what I perceive as “valuable” for one reason or another. For me, this meant admitting I wasn’t gifted as a pastor.

For you, it will mean something different.

The second thing I learned is that no matter what work I’m doing for work, I have to make sure that my identity doesn’t get wrapped up in it. When that happens, I’ll burn out no matter what I’m doing. And my burn-out doesn’t just affect me. It affects everyone else around me, and it impacts my ability to love people and be myself.

Have you ever been burned out? Tell me your story.

bio — Darrell Vesterfelt is the CEO of the Prodigal Media Group, a storytelling firm based in Minneapolis where he lives with his wife Ally. Darrell is the original #unblogger. You can connect with him on Twitter or call him at (612)802-5227.