69 – The Weary Leader’s Guide to Burnout – Sean Nemecek

69 - The Weary Leader's Guide to Burnout - Sean Nemecek

In this episode, Tom and Sean introduce Sean’s new book The Weary Leader’s Guide to Burnout: A Journey from Exhaustion to Wholeness. This first of four episodes on the book, gives an overarching view of the book and Sean’s story of burnout.

The Weary Leader's Guide to Burnout: A Journey from Exhaustion to Wholeness

Visit wearyleadersguide.com to preorder the book and get some bonus content!

About Sean Nemecek:

Sean Nemecek Author of The Weary Leader's Guide to Burnout

Sean Nemecek is the West Michigan Regional Director for Pastor-in-Residence Ministries, where his primary focus is on coaching pastors through burnout and recovery. He also serves as a co-host for the Hope Renewed podcast. Before joining PIR, Sean served as a pastor in a local church for almost 18 years.

Show Notes:

 In the next three episodes, the guys will be joined by PIR Executive Director, Roy Yanke, to explore each section of the book in more detail.

You can learn more about the book at wearyleadersguide.com

Tom and Sean talked about this book in Episode 44 -4 Questions to Diagnose Burnout (note this was before the book had its final title. At the time it was Better After Broken). See also Episode 34 – From Burning Out to Burning Bright – Jason Eddy.

Transcript of the Interview with Sean Nemecek:

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


Tom Jameson  00:00

Well, it’s my joy to introduce our guest today who is my co host. And partner in crime on hope renewed. Sean Nemecek. Sean, welcome to ope renewed.


Sean Nemecek  00:12

Well, thank you very much, Tom. It’s a pleasure to be here.


Tom Jameson  00:15

Boy, that doesn’t feel awkward at all. But this is great. This is really exciting. We are talking with Sean today about a work that he has been engaged in, over. Boy, how long has it been, Shawn?


Sean Nemecek  00:31

It’s been two years now. Two years


Tom Jameson  00:33

of of solid work that has resulted in a book. And we had a previous conversation. While this was all still in process back on episode number 44 of Hope renewed where we kind of looked at the four big questions that that you deal with. In the book. Things have kind of grown and morphed since that time. So I’d like you. What’s the name of the book? What are we anticipating here?


Sean Nemecek  01:08

Yeah, the name of the book is now officially and forever weary Leaders Guide to burnout, a journey from exhaustion to wholeness. And we’re expecting it to go to press here as we talk in just a few weeks. And it will be released on March 28, of 2023. So we’re really looking forward to that. Yeah. And congratulations


Tom Jameson  01:34

to you on that. I know we here at PIR ministries are very excited about this project, excited for you. Again, this has been a labor of love. This is blood, sweat and tears and a lot of typing and typing type. But also excited for pastors and for the church, that this new resource is going to be available to help pastors ministry leaders find hope and healing in this particular area. So just to grab kind of a big picture overview what, what was the genesis of this project? Where did this come from? And even tie that in a little bit to your own story?


Sean Nemecek  02:23

Yeah, well, our listeners who have been with us since the beginning, you’ve heard this story probably a couple times by now. But this book really comes out of my own experience of burnout. And in many ways, it’s kind of bringing together everything I learned and experienced in my own recovery, from burnout, and also some of the things that I’ve learned along the way in coaching other pastors. So it was a little over 10 years ago, that I experienced very deep burnout. Turns out, this was actually the third time I’ve been through some level of burnout. And it was, it was a total crash. I was able to remain in ministry, but it took me several years to, to recover. And then to start sharing what I was learning with other pastors, they started to see changes in me and said, You’re you’re looking a lot healthier, you seem like you’re doing better, what’s different. Some of it had to do with changes that were going on in the church. You know, one of my critics left the church and things got easier. So some of that was was from that. But a lot of it was from the inner work that I was doing, just to recover from burnout to reconnect with God. And so these pastors started asking some questions about what are you doing this different? Can you tell me a little bit more and so I was informally coaching pastors for quite a while. Then when I started formally coaching with PIR full time, and really began getting a lot more questions from pastors around the articles I’ve written for my blog, the pastor soul. I started to engage in this this intentional coaching and realized there are a lot of things I’m hearing from these other pastors that are consistent with what I experienced. And I needed a way to kind of bring all of my different ideas and thoughts together into a kind of a coherent way of looking at at burnout. So really, this was I was writing this book for my own use primarily, just to clarify my thoughts and helped me as a coach. And then secondarily, to give to the clients I was coaching is something we could use to form a basis for conversation. So that they can pick and choose you know, here’s what I really need to work Um, as I was writing this, I started that project, like I said about two years ago. So this is we’re recording this in at the end of November 2022. So it was November 2020, when I was starting it. And I got writing about a month into it and realized, it really feels like the, there’s there’s a wider application for this book. So I took a pause of about a month from writing to try and figure out how do I need to re shape the book. So that can be something that could be published for wider use, and then came back at it and finished writing the rough draft that March of 2021. And then sent it out to some friends and authors that I know, just to see if they felt like there was something here. I didn’t want to publish a book that that was great in my own mind. But other thought was terrible. always


Tom Jameson  06:04

the hardest part getting others input and perspective. But so necessary. Yeah.


Sean Nemecek  06:10

Right. So that became the first round of really getting feedback and the feedback that I got, especially from authors and the therapists that he sent it to, to kind of read behind me, they loved it. And they gave me glowing praise. In fact, the four authors that I sent it to all sent back endorsements for the book, which allowed me to start looking for publishers. And the first publisher I went to said, No thanks. And so dealing with the rejection, there was not the second hardest part. But it turns out, it was in God’s plan. Because Zondervan reflective was really interested in this book, and they’ve been so great to work with. And they really believe this is kind of a unique book, within the market, because there are books about burnout. But this is really the first book that takes you through a process of recovering from burnout, and really helps you work not just through recovery, but through transformation, so that you can build resilience, and hopefully not burnout ever again. Yeah,


Tom Jameson  07:22

wow. It’s so fascinating, just to hear kind of the the process of how God is at work in you through through your own experience and your own healing to, you know, kind of step by step. It wasn’t, you know, oh, I recover from burnout, I need to write a book, really. And that kind of begs the question, did you get burned out writing the book? How did you avoid burnout writing?


Sean Nemecek  07:52

So yeah, there’s a couple of things around that. First, when I was recovering from burnout, I read 86 books in one year, and just really downloaded as much information as I could. That’s just kind of my process. That’s how I have to figure it out, figure out my way forward, and then jump into it. And then it was years of letting that information and continuing to read in that field of study and grow the complexity of the problem. But also the simple way through that complexity and and letting it marinate in me quite a bit. testing this out with the pastor’s I’m working with informally and then formally as a coach with pir. So there’s, there’s like 10 years


Tom Jameson  08:45

of what’s gonna say this is more than a two year project this right. This is God’s work in it through you coming to fruition that maybe was underground for a long time.


Sean Nemecek  08:58

Yeah. And then then the actual writing of it, sitting down to write, I wrote in my spare time, I would carve out days off and things like that to write. But it was really invigorating for me. I really had a sense that as I was writing this, I was not only working through my own healing again, in rehearsing what I’ve been through, but I had a sense of just communion with God as I was writing, and it really felt like this book was something God wants to use. And I’m curious to see how he’s going to use it in the future. But it was really just a continual offering up to God of all these things. Every chapter was was bathed in prayer, and just given to God and asking him as I’m writing, what do you want me to include? So it was it was just a wonderful time of worship in many ways.


Tom Jameson  10:00

No, I love that. So so this is not merely a theoretical work of some Academia Approach, academic approach to an issue. I mean, first and foremost, I hear you saying that you want this to be a practical help to those who are experiencing things that are very similar to what you experienced in ministry, and that you see happening all over, but also almost a devotional work. Again, yeah, born out of that desire to respond back to the work God was doing in your life and is doing in your life.


Sean Nemecek  10:39

Yeah, I do want this to be very experiential, and practical. As leaders are going through the book, I’m encouraging them to engage. In fact, early on in the the introduction, I mentioned that this is the type of book you’re gonna read quickly, you know, on a weekend or something like that, you could, but you won’t get much out of it that way. It’s the type of book that you have to go through slowly. And there’s questions, there’s practices, there’s experiences to, to help guide you through real inner transformation. And if there’s anything that I want this book to do, it’s to help people who are experiencing burnout reconnect with God in themselves. Because I think that’s really the key. In all of this, if there’s one thing that’s that’s what it really boils down to.


Tom Jameson  11:28

So this is not a five steps to reengage in ministry, after you burned out, just kind of slap these things on and get back on the horse. And there you go.


Sean Nemecek  11:38

There are steps here and there. But really, this is kind of more like a menu that you pick and choose from, what I need to do, what inner work I need to do at work with God, work with others, in figuring out what you need, and gives you some ways forward with it.


Tom Jameson  11:57

You mentioned your story, and and how the book is really born out of that. How, how did your experience of burnout and recovery shape, how you went about piecing together? The book itself?


Sean Nemecek  12:13

Yeah, I did not want to write a book that was not coming from my own depth of experience. In my own understanding, I didn’t want this, like you said earlier to be just an academic treatment. I wanted to write from a place of understanding and empathy for those who are going through the same thing. One of the main reasons I wrote this book is because I didn’t have it when I was recovering from burnout. I had denominational representatives that I could reach out to there were people I could connect with, but I really didn’t feel like any of them had an understanding of what I was experiencing. There was wasn’t much empathy there, or at least I didn’t perceive it. And so I really wanted to write a book that shows people I understand, but you’re experiencing, I’ve had a couple of pastors who are going through burnout, and are working on recovery start to read this book. And they said, some of them said, you know, you’re, you’re speaking directly to me, it’s like you’re reading my mail. Others have said this, this is hitting so close to home, I have to go through it slowly. Because it’s it is triggering a little bit. And so they’re all really thankful for the book. It’s just I wanted this book to come out of that deep life experience. And so really what they’re reading is my recovery. I’m just not telling it as my story I’m telling it is as a way of guiding them through the journey that I’ve already been on. How powerful


Tom Jameson  13:51

to be able to do that. As you know, as you’ve worked with burnout, and you mentioned before you went through, you think three burnouts, the last one being a real, I think you call it a deep burnout. Yeah. What do you see as maybe the the big pieces of burnout that most pastors and ministry leaders can relate to?


Sean Nemecek  14:17

Yeah, there’s all sorts of different ways people can come to burnout. There’s no like one path to arriving there. But once you get there, there’s a lot of things that are in common. So usually, there’s a lack of self care. That has happened and as pastors, this happens all the time, we get so busy caring for others, that we sometimes intentionally neglect to care for ourselves. We say I can I can deal with that later or I’m fine. I can I can handle it. And that’s true for a short period of time, but when it extends over Months, in years, and even decades. The longer it goes, the deeper the problem gets. And so what we’re doing is kind of slowly moving toward a cliff. And at some point, we fall over this cliff and experience deep exhaustion, and inability to, to get the same results that we used to in our work, we tend to get cynical, disconnecting from people losing our sense of self. So all of these things happen. And really, what surfaces in us is shame. Often anger, and there’s usually some level of grief that hasn’t been dealt with, whether it’s loss of friends, or disappointment in ministry. There’s some level of grief that needs to be addressed. Somewhere along the way. And so those three, shame, anger and grief, really, on the kind of the foundation of things that need to be worked through in there, there what tell us, they’re not the problems themselves, they’re the symptoms that tell us what the problems might be. Right? For example, anger is a secondary emotion, there’s usually things behind anger going on, and maybe sadness, maybe depression, maybe grief, maybe a number of things. So we, we look at those three things, and then asked, What’s what’s going on behind those. Sometimes, it’s because we entered ministry, out of some deep need, that we had, we were looking for people’s approval, and found out that we could fall into people pleasing patterns real quickly in ministry, and that took us away from our sense of who we are, is itself is a self. Sometimes it’s because there were things in our background in our childhood that never got dealt with. Sometimes there’s just conflict in ministry or disappointment that the vision that we saw, wasn’t realized, there’s all these different paths to it. But really, that burnout is a total depletion of self that shows up as shame, anger, grief, and, and then that leads to isolation. And so the isolation that comes from burnout, really, is what causes us to go over that cliff, if we had friends, if we had close friends, who were able to listen and understand and be empathetic and, and really kind of do the things that I do with pastors who are burned out, just be a friend to them, we probably wouldn’t fall into this trap. But that isolation really kind of is that last straw that drives us over the edge.


Tom Jameson  18:05

And that kind of takes us away from a common misunderstanding. I think. And I think you addressed this in the book, that that, you know, burnout is because just because I’ve been working too hard. You’d counter against that, wouldn’t you? Yeah, definition of burnout.


Sean Nemecek  18:24

Yeah, burnout is not caused by overwork, it’s actually caused by a bad working environment. So you at one point, in the book, I talked about how burnout may actually be caused by under work, you know, a lazy pastor is just as likely to burn out is one who is overworking or is a workaholic, both of those tend to come from shame. And where that shame is showing up in our lives and what the root of it is, is more the cause of burnout and our relationship to work. But the working environment is really what causes it. So there’s a scale of measuring burnout called the Frances burnout inventory, that really just asks, How much negative experience are you having in your work? And how much positive experience are you having in your work and is the positive enough to balance out or outweigh the negative, and if it is great, you’re gonna thrive you’re going to do well. You’re going to be able to bring your best self and your you’ll be creative and experience good health in your work. If the negative outweighs the positive, and to the degree that it outweighs the pot is positive. That’s what you’re going to experience when you’re going to experience burnout. So, it will be you’ll lose your creativity. You’ll Use the desire to do the things that you used to love before. I mean, nobody wants to enter into an environment where they know they’re going to be criticized and paraded and demeaned, and they’re going to feel unproductive, even if it’s work that they used to love. And so the work environment is really what causes burnout. And then it’s our response to it, internal response to that work environment that determines whether or not we’re going to stay in burnout, or we’re going to recover. And so this book really focuses on the internal things that we can do to survive a negative culture, and to become healthy and maybe even break free from it. And yet


Tom Jameson  20:43

that that recovery seems so elusive, to to pastors and ministry leaders. Why is this? Why does it seem when you’re in burnout, the last thing you can think about is recovering from burnout.


Sean Nemecek  20:59

Part of that is because of the anxiety and shame. that happen. Anxiety is kind of pervasive through this entire experience of burnout. It’s what feeds that shame and anger and grief that we were talking about earlier. And so when you have anxiety and shame together, they kind of form this shame spiral that just sucks, you’re down and down and down. The last thing you want to hear when you’re in burnout is that it’s going to take some hard work to get out. Because you have this sense of hopelessness down at that depth of burnout, you really need somebody to come alongside you and say, Look, I know, you don’t feel like you can do this right now. But I can tell you from experience that if you’re willing to do the work, there is hope on the other side, and you can become a better leader through this. And so with the pastor’s the work that I do with pastors who are in burnout, what they need is for me to hold hope for them for a while. And that’s really what, what allows them to start doing that work. Because it is a lot of hard work, internal work, the type of things we tend to avoid. And it’s because we’ve avoided those that were in burnout. So going back and addressing our anxiety, or shame or grief, or anger,


Tom Jameson  22:23

peeling the onion and getting I mean, a lot of work, getting the layers getting down to that soft, gooey center that you will work so hard to protect


Sean Nemecek  22:32

you it also starts with finding a sense of security in Christ first. And so while I’m holding hope, I’m also reminding them of just how much they are loved by God, because of the work of Christ, and how they’re united to Christ. And in so we build that sense of self by helping them reconnect with God, and understand who they are, from his perspective is people created in the image of God, in created in being recreated into the image of Christ. And so building that foundation of security allows them to do the work, a lot of pastors don’t know how to do that on their own. And so when you’re in burnout, you feel stuck, you feel hopeless, and you don’t know how to get out. And that’s part of what makes it such a horrible thing. You need somebody who’s been through it before to help you see the way


Tom Jameson  23:31

Yeah, to have that guide that says there is a way out, you just don’t have to, you know, feeling like the only option is just to quit just to give up. Because you know, it’s not sustainable anymore. I cannot continue living like this. But I don’t know how to find that place of health. So to have have a guide, have a coat. Yeah.


Sean Nemecek  23:54

So sometimes it is necessary for pastors to leave the environment that caused the burnout. Other times they can recover in that space. But what we want to avoid is them quitting one place and then going to another without getting healthy. Because what they’ll end up doing is taking their their internal burnout, the problems that are going on in them right with them to the next place, they’re likely to experience the same type of negative culture in the new place. If they haven’t done the work to become healthy themselves, they they’re going to fit their own dysfunction. They’re still there. So they’re gonna go to a new church or a new job and experience that burnout all over again. And it just gets deeper each time.


Tom Jameson  24:43

So So thinking of this work this book as as a guide, what how would you explain the layout? They walk us through the flow of the book, how does it guide


Sean Nemecek  24:55

so I built this book around a concept called trip loop learning. And it might be helpful to explain that just for a second so that we can see how the book is laid out in triple loop learning, it basically says that in order for us to really, truly be transformed by something, we need to learn it three times. The first time is just information. That’s the first loop, we’re just getting the information that we need. So that would be my experience of reading those 86 books in one year, it’s just downloading the information, getting an understanding, that might be where you’re looking at the map and trying to figure out where am I on the map. So that’s the first loop. The second loop is where we start to make some changes, some behavioral changes, we change what we’re doing in life. So this would be starting to create some new habits around connection with God in taking some time for silence and solitude and other spiritual disciplines, approaching scripture in a different way, and then doing some of the work around boundaries and in values that I talked about in the book. So these are largely external practices, changes that we’re making to our behavior that will, if we continue, we’ll start to work on us internally. And this is the third loop in triple loop learning, where there’s internal transformation. And now the changes that we’ve been working out and start to flow naturally from us on the inside. And that’s when I know a pastor is not likely to burn out again, when I see those internal changes happening in their relationship with God, the relationship to their work, is just healthy and thriving. Now they can slide back into old patterns, but it’s that third loop that really makes the change. So I built the book around that idea of triple loop learning. The first part of the book is just understanding burnout. What is it am I in burnout, what causes burnout, where we talk about anxiety and shame, we get into anger and grief a little bit, the internal stuff that’s going on, we also talk about the relationship between stress and burnout, and how managing our rhythms of work and rest in our energy, our just our natural energy patterns in our body are all part of this in. So it’s really just understanding where am i right now? And what contributed to this. The second part of the book is the recovery part. What would it take to get me back to level ground, to get out of this pit, back to where I used to be. And so we talk in this section about reconnecting with God, restoring our sense of self, becoming secure in Christ, building a team of people around you to help you recover some of the issues of soul care, I deal heavily with the idea of differentiation of self. And understanding our own emotional boundaries and, and things like that. So that that section is really that second loop, it’s giving you the tools to work on. The third section is is where we’re talking about really becoming resilient against burnout. And here we go into the deeper spiritual issues, and talk about the spiritual transformation that needs to happen if we’re going to, to really never burn out again. And here we talk about things like learning to lament and expressing our grief and having healthy patterns of, of dealing with grief. We talk about what it means to truly surrender to God, and to live in such a way that we desire His will, above all else, and then also what it means to live out of love so that, that our life in our ministry flows naturally out of who we are, and who we are becoming in Christ. And so this, this really kind of funnels down into the idea of creating a Rule of Life, where we, we have patterns of life that we’ve put in place that help us be our best, healthiest self that’s most connected to God, so that we can live naturally from that heart connected with God. And so that’s really the the structure of the book, that’s where it’s going. And so each chapter has got questions to help you reflect on that and I’ve also got a workbook that’s going to be available as a download for people to go deeper into those things.


Tom Jameson  29:57

So is Is this the kind of tool that is best used by yourself or in conjunction with someone else or does that depend on on who you are and how you best learn.


Sean Nemecek  30:10

So I think recovery from burnout, you have to be connected with others. I, every pastor, I coach through burnout, I tell them, you need to find a qualified counselor to be connected with and dealing with some stuff there. They’re connected with me. So there’s a relationship there. They can go through the book on their own and do all of the work in the book on their own. But it’s always helpful to have somebody to talk to whether it’s a coach, or a counselor or a mentor, or a cohort of pastors who you’re going through the book with, being able to talk through what you’re experiencing is part of the learning process.


Tom Jameson  30:50

Yeah, being able to externalize that and process that. Yeah, yeah. I just wanted to mention, you know, you mentioned the three parts of the book, and we’re gonna delve into those more deeply in future podcasts, we’re gonna have Roy Yankee meeting with me, and you and and do a real deep dive into each of those areas. Not so people don’t need to buy the book, but to kind of give another expression to the that hope. But, you know, kind of stepping back again, to to this big picture of, of burnout. How have you found it helpful to work with pastors who, whether it’s the shame or the anger or the grief, are, are resistant to confront their own burnout or deal with their own burnout? You know, they’re, they’re worried, well, if I bring this up to the church board, they’re going to fire me or, you know, the congregation will think less of me, or I’ve somehow failed, and ministry, what have been some of your approaches to help pastors, ministry leaders to do so.


Sean Nemecek  32:04

That level of anxiety, we really need to create a safe space for them to, to really understand what’s going on there. So one of the first things I first questions I asked pastors is, tell me about your rhythms of work and rest, I want to make sure that they’re getting the Sabbath rest, that they need, and are able to have space for being with God, and just being in his presence and being able to listen to what God is wanting to do and say, into their lives. If we don’t have that, if we don’t have space for silence and solitude, and for truly restorative rest, that that genuinely brings life and energy to us for ministry, then the rest of the work is going to be really hard to do. Because we need that space to reflect on what is this anxiety telling me, and what’s going on, in all of this anxiety that I’m experiencing? A lot of times, it’s because we’re trying to prop up some false view of ourselves, you know, we all have this, this false self, that we tend to project to the world that may be bigger, or smaller than who we truly are. Bigger, you know, we we might want people to see us as more successful or more knowledgeable than we really are. Smaller might be when we’re trying to hide from the world. And we don’t want to be noticed. And we’re not really valuing the gifts that God has given us. Anxiety is kind of doing those things in our lives. And to be able to step back and look at what’s going on. We need to create those spaces of connection with God and others, so that we can talk about them and receive empathy for the shame that’s connected to that anxiety. If we don’t break that anxiety, shame loop, then there’s no way out the gravity of that just keeps sucking back in. It’s like a black hole. Yeah, it is it is in so we’ve got to find a way to break the power of that in the only way to do that is by by finding some space to be with God and establish these rhythms of healthy rest and reflection. And then from there, we can start building on some of the tools that that we need to work on. You really have to have a certain level of, of health already to be able to go into those tools. Right, we start.


Tom Jameson  34:42

Yeah, and so key that you mentioned, it’s not just space, it’s safe space. Yeah. And how challenging that can be for pastors and ministry leaders to find a safe space because while we would have Hope it would be the very context in which we’re ministering right the church and that that’s what we’re called to create for others, that that may not be the, the place for a pastor to find that.


Sean Nemecek  35:16

Yeah, unfortunately, the church is, in many places one of the least safe spaces for pastors. Because a lot of these church boards are approaching the pastor’s work like they experienced in the business world, and the business world in the United States. And really, all the work culture in the United States is really feeding a larger burnout context. It’s, it’s really not healthy at all. And so that trickles down into the church. And we haven’t thought through what it takes to create a healthy culture where people can thrive. And because of that, pastors are burning out left and right. So they need to, they need a space where they can step out. And they can have somebody who, who can really help them know that they are seen and secure, and can offer some soothing words. So that they really feel safe. And it’s that safety that provides the space to do this really hard internal work. You mentioned before


Tom Jameson  36:35

and this creating safe space, utilizing the book and a cohort of pastors say more about that, and what your your hope might be for the book being used that way.


Sean Nemecek  36:50

Yeah, we’re just beginning to explore some different partnerships and ideas with churches and things. So I can’t say too much other than I would really love pastors to get into groups of three to six people, and go through this book, slowly, probably over the space of a year, or even more, depending on the level of burnout that’s experienced there. This book can be really helpful for just building resiliency, it may not be for pastors who are in burnout, I was gonna ask that they, you know, it can be pastors who feel like they’re healthy and want to take their health to the next level and, and really develop resilience. But my heart is that pastors who are in burnout can get together with other pastors who need this book, and can go through it slowly, and maybe even have some, some connection with me where I can come in and, and help them help answer questions and go through the book together.


Tom Jameson  37:54

What would you say? Looking at your experience, and the way that it shaped the book, and as you are continuing to experience that renewing grace of God in your own life and recovering from burnout, what has been kind of the core difference that’s been made in you and your healing?


Sean Nemecek  38:17

Oh, boy, that’s really the core differences is, I’m a very different person than I was 10 years ago, the things that led to my burnout, it was a slow deterioration of conflict, and people pleasing, and not dealing with my own grief. And so there’s all sorts of layers to it, that each one sucks you a little bit further down. So for me, I had when I was in the depths of burnout, I really felt like, there was something seriously broken in my soul. And so I had to start from nothing and rebuild my relationship with God, my connection to others, my sense of who I am, and my calling and my gifting and dealing with my shame. So really, it’s learning self care, Soul care, work, has made the biggest difference. But that’s, it’s really a rebuild of myself from the ground up by the power of the Spirit and in the presence.


Tom Jameson  39:33

And that is not a quick project for any of us.


Sean Nemecek  39:37

And it’s a lifelong project. I tell the pastors, I’m coaching, you know, you’ll probably feel a lot better in three to six months of coaching. You’ll probably feel recovered from burnout in three to five years. But you’re always going to have a limp from this experience. And that’s okay. Because that’s actually part of what will make you a better leader in the long run. But that means you’re going to have continual work for the rest of your life around this. So it’s really learning a new way to live.


Tom Jameson  40:12

Wow, that’s powerful. That’s powerful. And it’s just rising. The question in my mind of how it is that God enabled you to lean into this experience of burnout as opposed to running away from it. And, you know, I just I think of many who have gone through an experience and say, I don’t ever want to get anywhere near that, again, I’m just going to kind of redirect my way,


Sean Nemecek  40:44

I think there are several factors in that, that worked uniquely for me. First and foremost, it was absolutely a grace of God to be able to realize there’s something broken in me, there’s a conviction of the Spirit, in that part of my experience of burnout was seeing myself do and say things that just did not feel like me, it was like an out of body experience, almost. Why am I saying that? Why am I doing that I was in such a defensive fight or flight mode, that my body and brain were reacting before I even had a chance to reflect on what was going on. It’s so hard to describe that to somebody if you haven’t experienced it. That is part of the grace of God seeing that happen, and realizing, Oh, this is really scary. This, there’s something that needs to change. I cannot live in this space, much longer. There’s also kind of a family history. That as I was growing up, if I ever had a question about something my parents had the the response, go look it up. And we had a huge set of Encyclopedia Britannica. And I was expected to go and find the answer for myself, and come back, and then I could share with them what I learned. And then we would have a discussion that would take further. But I had to show that I done the work first of trying to figure it out on my own. Now, that has some negative repercussions, too. You know, I grew up feeling like in order to be accepted and loved, I had to have all the answers. That’s not a healthy thing for a pastor to burnout, that also contributed to my burnout. But having that experience of knowing how to find the answers, where to go, how to figure it out how to follow leads, that grew in me over the years. And I think that was one of the things that God used to help me in that, that year where I was just doing that investigative research. It was, I was feeling a sense of desperation of I’ve got to figure this out if I’m going to survive. And so I was able to lean on that. And then the more I got into that, the more hope I began to feel, the more excited I was about recovery, because I was getting answers. And I was putting together a plan. And after that year of deep intense research that really is this book, I was able to finally climb out.


Tom Jameson  43:33

Again, the book is the weary Leaders Guide to burnout, a journey from exhaustion to wholeness. Or I might dare say Shawn’s journey from exhausting to wholeness, but a journey others can can embark on, just remind us the logistics release date how folks can purchase the book.


Sean Nemecek  43:52

Sure, the release date is March 28, of 2023. You can find the book pretty much anywhere you buy your books, if they can order it for you. If you’re at a local bookstore, it’s on Amazon. There’ll be an audio book for it as well. I would recommend that people would go to Baker book house.com


Tom Jameson  44:15

We urge that buy from the publisher


Sean Nemecek  44:20

Baker’s not the publishers on the publisher but take your book house is a book that are bookstore that I have a close connection to and they’re offering it at the best discount I’ve seen so far. So that’s that’s where we go.


Tom Jameson  44:35

And we will be joining Roy Yankee or Roy will be joining us as we delve into these three sections more deeply in upcoming podcasts and really look forward to that. How can folks connect with you personally, Sean?


Sean Nemecek  44:49

Yeah, they can find me through PIR, PIR ministries.org. I have my blog, which is Pastor soul.com In And since publishing this book, I’ve also created an author web page, Sean nemecek.com, that they can find me there and learn more about how they can connect with me. There’s contact pages on all of those, reach out on any one of them.


Tom Jameson  45:17

And how will the work be booked be available, will that be through your website or


Sean Nemecek  45:21

workbook will be on Sean nemecek.com. And there’s in the book, there’ll be references to where to find that workbook and how you can download it, it’s going to be a just a PDF download, that you’ll have to print out yourself. It will be free, no cost for that. And it will provide assessments and exercises and things that you can do to complement what’s said in the book. And to take it a little bit further. The book workbook itself won’t make much sense without the book, right. But together, they should be a powerful tool that, hopefully, will provide pastors, what they need to climb out.


Tom Jameson  46:06

Great, well, I can go I’m really looking forward to delving more deeply into this and in the future here. And avoiding burnout myself, from a place of health, not a place of fear. But I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you, as I asked, or we ask every guest who joins us on hope renewed? What words of hope would you like to share today, with those who are listening,


Sean Nemecek  46:32

I would say don’t be afraid of hard work, especially the internal work that the Spirit wants to do. And because God meets us in those places. And there is something beautiful and special about meeting God in the space of our own internal work, of working through anxiety, and anger, and shame and grief. In our culture, we tend to avoid those things. But I found in my own experience, and hopefully others will find as they read this book, that it’s as we meet God in those places that he does some of his best work. And he shapes us through those into the image of Christ and transforms our heart to be more loving, more empathetic. And really, it may may seem scary, but this is a beautiful journey to be on. And it’s filled with hope all along the way. So yeah, don’t be afraid of the hard work, because God will meet you in.


Tom Jameson  47:41

Beautiful. Oh, Shawn, thank you so much, my friend, my brother, my colleague.


Sean Nemecek  47:48

It’s always strange being on this end of the question.


Tom Jameson  47:53

Well, we are excited about the book grateful for this gift to the church and grateful for you. Thanks for joining us today. And thank you to our listeners. Again, we encourage you to go to our webpage hope renew podcast.com leave us some comments. We would love to hear your feedback on this. And it is our prays you are met in your weariness with the hope of Christ.

About the Author
The Hope Renewed Podcast is presented by PIR Ministries. Visit us at pirministries.org

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