How Much Grit Do You Have? 5 Keys to Avoid Burnout

 In Blog, Communication

Being a pastor is hard. The role of shepherding people, leading an organization, providing spiritual direction and all of the other various things pastors get pulled into can drain your energy and even lead to burnout. J.R. Briggs shares in his book FAIL, how the stressors on pastors can lead to isolation, loneliness and pain. In fact, according to a study conducted by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, being a pastor may be harder than we think. Here are a few of the findings from his study:

  • 90% of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly or even daily basis.
  • 77% of the pastors surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage.
  • 75% of the pastors surveyed felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor.

So what makes the difference between pastors that fail and those that push forward to success? Some would say the answer is grit. I don’t mean sandpaper, I mean the psychological predisposition to soldier on against difficult odds.  Here is a great explanation:

While we don’t completely know how to quantify grit like we do someone’s IQ, there are some common characteristics that have been identified.


Pushing through the difficulties is only worth it if you have a clear picture of a better future. As a church leader, your mission and goals should not just be something on a piece of paper, but the things that you are willing to fight and bleed for. Your passion for this vision may be the only thing keeping you moving some days, so take the time to get clarity on what really matters to you and how you will be leaving the world a better place.


Vision can be a double edged sword sometimes. If you see that things can be different, that also means you have recognized that they are not how you would want to see them today. For a perfectionist, this can be difficult. Having a clear plan of progress, monitoring movement, and celebrating the wins along the way helps to keep people moving. The goal isn’t perfection, it is to be better tomorrow than I was today.


Losing hope is the easiest way to get to the exit ramp. Optimism isn’t the same thing as naiveté . Nobody likes the person that vomits rainbows and butterflies all the time, but effective leaders possess the ability to see opportunities where others do not, and to see the best in people and situations.


Few jobs open you up to second guessing like being a pastor. Obviously, we all need constructive feedback and can improve. But don’t listen to the haters. You know who I’m talking about. Every community or friend group has that one person that no matter how good things are, have some kind of criticism. A key factor in grit is taking some blows and keeping on moving. Think Timex – take a lickin and keep on tickin.


Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t get to your vision overnight. If your dreams are lofty, then it may take years and decades to get there. Being faithful in the little things and showing up everyday to make progress is the only way you will get there. We live in a world that promises everything instantaneously, but anything worth going after involves hard work and determination.

As a church leader, how are you developing grit in your life and in the lives of others?