It’s a long running joke that pastors don’t really
work, but two days a week. Being married to a minister, I must say that nothing
could be farther from the truth. Most pastors are on call 24/7 and are asked to
help in a vast array of circumstances – from holding someone’s hand while they
die to rescuing cats from clandestine places.
Sadly, many ministers have few friends and often
carry their personal burdens in isolation. Pastors and their wives often fear
that if their congregations knew of their struggles, then their jobs would be
in jeopardy, so many suffer in silence.
I recently read some disturbing facts from www.PastorBurnout.com
and the New York Times (August 1, 2010). Did you know that members of the clergy now
suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most
Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their
life expectancy has fallen, and that many would change jobs if they could?
- 13% of active pastors are divorced.
- 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at
least once in their careers.
- 25% don’t know where to turn when they have a
family or personal conflict or issue.
- 33% felt burned out within their first five
years of ministry.
- 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger
to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual
- 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.
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses
believe that being in pastoral
- 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no
- 70% of pastors don’t have any close friends.
- 80% of pastors say they have insufficient
time with their spouse.
- 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects
their families negatively.
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect
- 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each
month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.
If those stats aren’t sad enough, doctors, lawyers
and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because we are in a position to pray for and
to support our pastors and their families. If you are guilty of slandering or
gossiping about the pastor or his family – stop! They are imperfect people
making imperfect progress, just like you and me. Instead of casting stones, we
need to extend to them the same grace we want them to offer us. Clergy are on
the frontlines of a battlefield and we need to pray for them.
My challenge for you this week is to let your
pastor and his wife know how much they mean to you and find a tangible way of
showing them that you appreciate them.
Labels: Addictions, Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health