As Johnny Laird and I did the show wrap this weekend, we focused a lot of the discussion on the issue of burnout in ministry — a major focus in Mad Church Disease.
As we talked I was reminded of some of these stats from Pagan Christianity…
At the time of this writing there are reportedly more than 500,000 paid pastors serving churches in the United States.
- 94 percent feel pressured to have an ideal family
- 90 percent work more than forty-six hours a week
- 81 percent say they have insufficient time with their spouses
- 80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their family negatively
- 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend
- 70 percent have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry
- 50 percent feel unable to meet the demands of the job
- 80 percent are discouraged or deal with depression
- More than 40 percent report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and unrealistic expectations
- 33 percent consider pastoral ministry an outright hazard to the family
- 33 percent have seriously considered leaving their position in the past year
- 40 percent of pastoral resignations are due to burnout
It’s shameful that the church has come to a place where so much pressure is put on our leaders (intentionally or not) and there are so few support mechanisms in place for them.
I would personally love to see people really step up and see themselves as the priesthood believers and realize that they too can care for the people in their faith communities as well — and avoid “passing the buck” off to the “paid professionals.”
I dream of a day when groups come together on a regular basis for the sharing of life and community and these same people rally around one another, viewing their role as pastors to their small community and share in the pastoral ministry of one another — giving the “paid professionals” an opportunity to find some relief in their jobs.
But until that day happens — how about calling your pastor (and perhaps his wife) and inviting them over for dinner? Invite them to coffee. Invite them to come with no strings attached and simply give them an opportunity to unwind, feel free to be themselves and offer your encouragement and support for all that they do.
When our Church leaders can find the time and opportunity to care for themselves, the entire Church benefits.