Burnout in Ministry: A Conversation with Pete Wilson

Jacob Eckeberger
March 6th, 2017

Maina Mwuara sat down with Pete Wilson for a conversation about burnout in ministry, the importance of leading from healthy places, and a look into what his life is like after Cross Point.

If you don’t have the time to watch the full interview, here are a few things that stood out to me:

You can’t lead on empty.

Years of ministry at a very fast pace and going through personal trials at the same time left Pete at a place where he was depleted. He realized he wasn’t in a shape to lead a community of people, and he finally chose to step out of ministry after decades of working within the local church.

“I had a lot of fear that day, but if I could go back to that day, I would make the exact same decision. I wasn’t in a place where I could lead a church.”

I don’t know all the circumstances around Pete’s transition out of Cross Point, but I do know that it takes an incredible amount of self-awareness to recognize that you’re not in a place to lead. On top of that, I’d say it takes incredible courage to then decide to remove yourself from that position without anything else in place. I know that the Church can be a strong champion for the youth workers who follow a courageous calling into youth ministry, but I wonder if we’re just as supportive of those youth workers if/when they follow a calling to leave youth ministry.

The invisible wall that separates holy vocations from the not so holy.

“Often in the church, there’s this invisible wall we’ve created of the sacred and the not sacred, the holy and the not so holy. So pastors on this sacred and holy side and all the other jobs, like being an accountant or hair-stylist or whatever, are not sacred or not as holy. As if somehow God would be happier with you if you were a pastor over being an accountant. I think that invisible wall has done a tremendous amount of damage to the church. It has convinced people that somehow their life or vocation is less than that of a pastor or minister and that’s simply not true. God is not going to be happier with you for being a pastor over a hairstylist, so my thing has been, whatever God has called you to do, do that. And do it in such a way that people see it and it’s obvious that you love God and love people. So that’s what I’m trying to do now.”

This is profound. Following God’s leading can be extremely difficult at times, and I wonder how much more difficult this invisible wall has made it for people who sense God leading them into vocations outside of the church.

2 Questions to Ask when going through a personal crisis.

“You pastor for 20 years and you have this routine. Even when a routine is fast paced, you get comfortable with it. When you’re going through any kind of personal crisis, you have to pull away and ask

1) What is God teaching me in this season?

2) What have I contributed to this, what do I need to learn from this?

And that’s really hard to do when you’re reading God’s word looking for how it applies to different groups of people. Right now, I’m in a season where I’m reading God’s word looking for how it applies to me, how does this shape me, and inform me. I don’t know if I could have honestly asked questions like, “what have I done in my own life to contribute to my own personal crisis.” If I was still leading a church. I don’t think I could have really heard from God in that fast-paced life I was living.”

Pete’s recent transition and personal crisis have not been easy on him, his family, or on those impacted by his history of leadership at Cross Point. I know he’s not the only one who has experienced these things. If you’re going through something similar, I hope this conversation between Pete and Maina has given you some encouragement to step into a season of self-care, where God can minister to you in the way that you need it most.

Catch this second interview with Pete and CEO of The A Group Maurilio Amorim sharing about the ways they serve the local church:

maina_squareMAINA MWAURA loves to guide student leaders. He is the husband of Tiffiney and has a two-year-old daughter name Zyan. Maina, lives in the Atlanta area and is the mobilization pastor at West Ridge Church. Check out more info at MAINASPEAKS.COM


jacob-eckeberger_200_200JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Content Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.