Popular Pastor Announces Break from Church: “I Feel So Distant from God” December 14, 2019

Popular Pastor Announces Break from Church: “I Feel So Distant from God”

Burnout is common in just about any job, but taking a break isn’t always an option, especially when your job requires you to “be on” at all times.

So kudos to a popular Virginia pastor who told his congregation he’s tired and needs a break.

Rev. Howard-John Wesley, a pastor at Virginia’s Alfred Street Baptist Church for more than 30 years, said earlier this month that he would be taking a long break after more than a decade of leading multiple services every weekend. It’s not that he’s tired of the job, but no one is immune from needing some me time.

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey tells his story:

Pastors are facing newer challenges than they did decades ago, which may lead some to work past their limits. Smartphones and social media have made many clergy quickly accessible to congregants, many churches face shrinking numbers and can’t afford a full-time pastor, and many lay leaders are less available in the era of two-income households and side-hustle jobs.

A fourth-generation Baptist preacher, Wesley said he’s not burned out and that’s he’s still excited about the job, but that he’s tired and needs “an intermission.”

“I feel so distant from God,” he said in the sermon. “One of the greatest mistakes of pastoring is to think that because you work for God, you’re close to God.”

You have to appreciate the honesty of a pastor who doesn’t want to just go through the motions. And when you aren’t a megachurch pastor with unlimited resources at your disposal, the weight of the church, and all the work that comes with it, falls on your shoulders.

It’s a job that sounds pretty hellish for this introvert — constantly surrounded by and talking to various people. And yet, it’s necessary work, even from a secular perspective. When grieving or dealing with illness, among other life challenges, having a leader orchestrate a community to grieve with and celebrate with you can be deeply meaningful.

As others have pointed out, a sabbatical is something that should be written into any long-term contract. It’s not a bad idea for any job, honestly.

(Screenshot via YouTube)


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