9 Action Steps for Burned Out Pastors

Steps toward healing and recovery from pastoral burnout

Surveys say that most pastors have felt like quitting in the past 12 months. If you feel like you’re about to crack wide open, drop in your tracks, or get a Pez dispenser full of Tums to keep your stomach calm…You may be feeling as though God is angry with you, and would push you to keep going, do more, try harder… and you’re dead wrong.

Pastor burnout - 9 action steps you can take to recover and heal

Give me a chance to prove it: Check out how God responded to an exhausted prophet.

5 Reasons You Should Plan Sermons In Advance

There’s a running joke among preachers, where sermons are referred to as “Saturday Night Specials.”  It’s one of those jokes with an element of truth.  Every small church pastor knows the feeling of a busy week of ministry, outside jobs, counseling, maintenance — and an emergency crash sermon prep session on Saturday night.  (Or Sunday morning!)

I know the stress & pain in that.  Recently, I’ve had to a few times, with our 6th baby arriving in September.

But for some, it’s a distressing, stress-filled, regular occurrence.

Often, it’s just a function of life.  But for some guys, it goes deeper — down to a fundamental doubt about whether it’s really a good thing to prep sermons in advance.

Here are 5 reasons why you should plan your sermons in advance:

Who Is This Baby?

Why Christmas Changes Everything...

In a few days, you’ll gather with family, enjoy old traditions, play special music, and celebrate the birth of a peasant baby born 2,000 years ago in an obscure village in a backwater province in a foriegn country.

Why? What is so special about this day?

It all hinges on who you think Jesus was. This year, as you peek into the manger, consider this question: Who is this Jesus?

S.M. Lockridge says it this way:
The Bible says my King is the King of the Jews
He’s the king of Israel
He’s the king of righteousness
He’s the King of Heaven
He’s the King of Glory
He’s the King of Kings
And he’s the Lord of Lords.

Jesus is the loftiest idea in literature,
The highest personality in philosophy.
The fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient Savior.

Paul said it like this:
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (NIV)

John Piper puts it this way:
“If you took all the greatest thinkers of every country and every century and put them in a room with Jesus, they would shut their mouths and listen to the greatness of His wisdom.
All the generals would listen to His strategy.
All the greatest musicians would listen to his music theory and His performance on every instrument.
There is nothing that Jesus cannot do a thousand times better than the person you admire most in any area of human endeavor under the sun.”

Here’s how I would say it:

If you put together the entire knowledge of the internet, you have not begun to scratch the surface of his knowledge.

He knows right now, whether you stand or sit, whether you itch or hunger or thirst, and what you thought of 30 seconds ago… and what you will think of 30 minutes from now.

If you could harness the spy satellites from every country and place, he would see more, see further and sooner.

If you could tap every phone and hear every conversation, and see every email, you would still not know as much about what is going on in this world as He does.

The greatest of marksmen cannot be so accurate as He.
If you put him against the military, you cannot imagine the carnage he would inflict on them, and never get a scratch.
Against the best of the weapons, he cannot lose.
If you were to put him against the special ops forces of every country, they would find that there was more power in his word than in all their training.
If you put him in a room with Navy’s new laser gun, he would dwarf its power.
If you pitted him against all the atomic arsenals of the world, what is that against the One who created the atom & knows all of its secrets?

Yet he doesn’t need to use this power… for though mans power can end a life, it has never created life in the priciest of laboratories. But He has; in fact, He is life itself. Man’s power can change a mind, but it has never changed a heart — but he can, and he has… and he does.

If you were in his care, you would be safer with him than with the best security team ever assembled. No lock is safer, no security system more unbeatable, no self-defense course or method as unstoppable.

If you collected diamonds and gold from every country and piled them in a warehouse, he would be richer. In fact, he would own them all, no matter whose name was on the title.

He is everything any boy ever loved in any superhero. He is everything any little girl ever longed for in a handsome prince. He can seem to be late, then swoop in, defeat the enemy and leave their schemes in ruins, save the princess, and ride away into the sunset without breaking a sweat.

He is everything good you have ever seen in a person, everything admirable and strong. He is all the things you ever loved in a man or a woman, all the good and kind and beautiful, with none of the scars of sin.

He is all the wise and powerful, with none of the corruption and lies.
He cannot be voted out, term limited, or deposed.
No coup will ever threaten his righteous reign.
No traitor will ever escape his wrath, and no whistleblower can ever call him to fault.
The Scriptures say it this way, “Of His government and kingdom there shall be no end…”

To know him is to be as wise as Solomon, as rich as Bill Gates, as powerful as all the presidents and prime ministers and dictators combined.

Light is not the fastest human thing… thought is. Thought can travel anywhere in the blink of an eye. But if you let your thoughts race from here to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, you would find that he was already there. Then if your thoughts raced back to the people you love and care for, you would find he was already beside them, before you decided to think of them.

He is faster than the fastest, higher than the highest, greater than the great…

But this Jesus who is unlike anything that has ever existed, is completely and utterly other, and holy, and separate, and above all things…

Became a baby.

A baby!

And they laid him in a feed box for cattle!

And smelly shepherds were his welcoming party.

He was…
“The eternal one, living in a moment of time.
The Omnipresence corralled in a feed box.
The Omnipotent in a helpless infant who could not raise His head.
The Omniscience confined in a baby who would not say a word.
The Christ who created galaxies, in a cave.
For when God would draw near to a cold, cruel, sinful, suffering humanity, he placed a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.”
[adapted from The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, 1986. p. 221]

Let it drive you wild…
let it drive you tears…
let it drive you to awe, wonder, and to worship.

Merry Christmas.

Introducing SermonSubscribe

I’m pleased to announce that our church is launching a new ministry that will serve churches without pastors, or busy bi-vocational pastors who need preaching support.

Introducing SermonSubscribe.

The Sermon Subscribe Story: SermonSubscribe Logo small

In 2012, I (Darrell S.) sat talking with Darrell Underwood, a USAF Master Sergeant who was moving to Clovis, New Mexico to be stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.  He said, “While I’m in Clovis, I feel like God wants me to plant a church.  I’m just not sure what I will do if I am deployed overseas.”

As we discussed options, we talked about the current trend of “multi-site” churches.  We discussed video preaching, and became convinced that this was the path God was leading us toward.  Darrell Underwood was employed full-time with the Air Force as a process improvement specialist. We realized the video preaching I supplied would be a blessing to him as he labored to start what eventually was named Servant’s Heart Chapel in Clovis.

After preaching for a year for Servant’s Heart, I began to feel that there was more that could be done for some small churches that I knew.  Churches that:

  • Had no pastor
  • Had a sick pastor
  • Had a bivocational (read: nearly burned out) pastor
  • Had a pastor who had to be away for a time

And so was born SermonSubscribe.  For a small fee, we do the heavy lifting on preaching, making it as turnkey as possible to have quality biblical preaching in a local church.  Every week, we:

  1. Sermon Supply 2Prayerfully prepare sermons.
  2. Preach them live at my church in OKC.
  3. Record high definition video of the message.
  4. Edit and produce the video.
  5. Burn a DVD or upload the finished video to share.
  6. Print handouts, and ship it all to the subscriber church.

We do all this for $200/mo — a fraction of the cost of a special speaker each Sunday, or of hiring a 2nd staff member.

Our goal: To serve churches by providing quality biblical preaching by video.

Here’s a sample from a recent sermon series, “Redeeming Ruth.”

If you have questions about this service, you are welcome to give me a call or text at the number on this flier, contact me on Facebook, contact me on Twitter, or drop me an email.


Pastor Darrell is an “ideas” guy… one of the most prolific I have ever worked with. He has also been gifted by God with the ability to take the truths of Scripture and present them in a memorable and exciting way. I highly recommend SermonSubscribe! This ministry is helping to fill the gap of empty pulpits and spiritually starved congregations.       – Rev. Jonathan Heath, pastor & Youth Challenge director

Pastor Darrell Stetler II offered the solution of video sermons when I wondered what my church was going to do if I was called away to serve our country. It was an enormous success. The sermons were both timely and challenging to our people. They have also helped me meet the challenges I face as a bi-vocational pastor as they have allowed me to spend more time with the people of my community and my family.   – Rev. Darrell Underwood, Pastor (Clovis, NM) & USAF officer

If you are looking for Biblical, practical messages that will stimulate your mind and challenge you in your walk with God, the ministry of Darrell Stetler II will be that kind of ministry.   – Rev. Darrell Stetler, Sr., Pastor, Burlington, KY

If I I know anything about Darrell Stetler II it is this — he will preach the Word of God, the whole Word of God, and nothing but the Word of God. If I was going to be away from my pulpit, I would feel safe allowing Pastor Darrell to preach for me.         – Rev. Doug Eads, Pastor, Ada Chapel Bible Methodist Church

 I would whole-heartedly recommend Darrell Stetler to any church in need of an interim ministry. Expect substantive, biblical, practical messages that will both challenge you and help you grow.   – Dr. Philip Brown, professor, God’s Bible School & College

“I watched the first DVD of the “Made” series, and it’s great!  You’re doing a really good work.” – David Gervais, church member, Trinity Bible Methodist Church, Alabama


What about you?  Do you know churches that could use this service?  Share your thoughts below!