Why would anyone want to be a pastor?
According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010), pastors are suffering from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than other professions in America. In the last decade, the number of pastors taking antidepressants have increased. I am not surprised. My own doctor has insisted , almost demanded, that I take antidepressants to cope with the pressures I am facing through serving a hurting world. The alternative is walking away which I don’t want to do.
Here are some statistics –
* 13% of active pastors are divorced.
* 23% have been fired or forced to resign at least once
* 25% don’t know where to turn when facing a family/personal conflict or issue.
* 25% of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict.
* 33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
* 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
* 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
* 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
* 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
* 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
* 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
* 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
* 70% don’t have any close friends.
* 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
* 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
* 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
* 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
* 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
* 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
* 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.
* Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.
These statistics are staggering but the problem with these statistics is that it only tells half the story. It tells the story from the pastor’s perspective. The other half of the story is that congregations are not aware or fully understand the strain of pastoral stress. Maybe, instead of being critical of the failures of your pastors, why not pray for them? They need your support! 🙂