The Danger of Running on Empty

When I get a chance to talk to many of my pastor friends, a lot of them are close to burnout. They’re like a car whose gas light came on forty miles ago and they’re running on fumes, hoping to make it to the next gas station in time before their tank goes empty. They’re pushing themselves to the limit physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

There is a inherent danger in pushing ourselves too far for a long period of time and I’ve seen it first hand with fallen pastors for the past decade. For some reason, many pastors feel they are super-human and are able to push against the limits of what God ever expected them to do. Some pastors push too hard because of unrealistic expectations. Some guys go too far because they have self-imposed expectations that are too high. And some are just overly high achievers who are out of touch with what they are capable of doing.

Add to the mix that most pastors don’t have a close network of friends they can talk to and many will refuse to see a counselor or try to fix their problems on their own. After time, these problems begin to turn into marriage issues, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, porn addiction or any number of things.

Why do these issues arise in the first place? Because often, pastors drive and push themselves, pouring themselves out into the ministry and other people and never take time to refresh themselves. They sacrifice personal growth and holiness for a few more errands to run or a push to make their church better.

However, after doing this ministry for so long, I can tell you that pushing oneself to empty is only a recipe for disaster. When a minister pours themselves out for so long and don’t allow themselves to receive any nourishment from God, their spouse, their friends or the Word, their hearts will become vacant.

What happens when a heart becomes vacant? They will fill up their hearts with junk food for the soul. We will fill our hearts with lust, sin, vice and things that have no place in the heart of the servant of God.

If you’re a pastor struggling with sin and burnout, know there is help for you. Don’t let it get too far. There are ministries and organizations to help you. The first thing you need to do is reach out for help. If you’ve already crossed a line, there is help for you too. Fallen Pastor Ministries is here to help. Please reach out at any time.


Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

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