Wanna be a pastor?

Monday, April 16, 2007
Todd Rhoades, a leadership development guy writes:
Forty-eight percent of them think their work is hazardous to their family well-being. Another 45.5 percent will experience a burnout or a depression that will make them leave their jobs. And 70 percent say their self-esteem is lower now than when they started their position. They have the second-highest divorce rate among professions.

They are pastors.

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are the president of the United States, a university president, a CEO of a hospital and ... a pastor.

And fellow Covenant pastor Eugene Cho writes:
-80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
-40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner once a month.
-33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
-75% report they’ve had significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
-58% of pastors indicate that their spouse needs to work either part time or full time to supplement the family income.
-56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends.
Pastors who work fewer than 50 hrs/week are 35% more likely to be terminated.
-40% of pastors considered leaving the pastorate in the past three months.

Those statistics don't surprise me at all.

Something is broken in the way we do this pastoring thing.


  1. Wow. That is really sad. That sabbatical is really needed!

  2. Over the last few months, I have listened to your words. And I have watched you change over these last few months. Life has been hard. Winter has not been kind to us in Canada, I know that.

    But the one question I have to ask is this, "what are you not doing that you should be doing to remain strong in your faith and ministry?"

    You used to talk about prayer a lot. Then you stopped talking about it at all. That confused me. With all that was going on, it seemed you stopped mentioning prayer.

    So I have been praying for you and all the other ministers I know in my circle. A sabbatical is nice, and it seems you need it right about now, I just wonder, with statistics like you posted, how is that going to affect your ministry in the future?

    Good men of faith are so hard to find, and to keep in their posts.

    I pray for you daily.

    There are not enough hours in the day.


  3. I think you are barking up the right tree Jeremy, in terms of how consistently are we as pastors living what we preach.

    I have looked over my blog the past 6-9 months and see a decrease in the quality of writing and certainly the volume of posts.

    I've seen a greater heaviness in them, and a shorter fuse when things are taken out of context.

    I had decided, about nine months or so ago, to take a step back from this place for a time. Partly its because the other demands on my life have increased significantly this past year.

    Partly it's been because I've been trying to do things, at work, that don't always come naturally for me, so they require more effort and focus from me.

    That's one of the things God has been talking to me about. I need to be doing what he is asking me to be doing, not what I may think I should be doing.

    And in spite of the tiredness of my spirit, I am enjoying a real season of closeness with God. Through prayer and scripture and community, God is really close these days. I don't know what I'd be if he wasn't.

    For twenty years, without a break any longer than an occasional three weeks, we've been pastoring. First a church of 400 where I was a lay pastor. Working full time and pastoring the rest. Then we went straight into were churchplanting for 9 years. Then, after a week for moving cities, we have been here in this place doing a church rebuilding work, for the last, well this is our tenth year here.

    I think its more of a testimony to his grace and my trying to lean into his grace, that its taken this long before we've needed a rest.

    Prayer is still a high priority for me these days, it's more that I have had to not be here as often writing, because I've had to be elsewhere.

    I really expect and hope and am watching God for more room to move back to writing more in this space. It's a good thing for me, if not for anyone else.

    So, sorry about confusing you guy. And thanks so much for your prayer. I know a good chunk of you have been doing that for me and mine, and I am grateful beyond words.

    I think those stat's I put up just kind of shocked me when i came across them today. And I am still troubled by them. I think we need to find better ways to be pastors and churches.

  4. I have enjoyed your writing very much. It is obvious you are in a different season, not better, not worse, just different! After serving as a pastor for 21 years I was like Humpty Dumpty and couldn't be put back together again. Often your writing has helped me to stay connected to something I dearly loved! Thanks!

  5. Hello Randall,

    Now I graduate with my degree in religion and now I am in the certificate in Pastoral Ministries, I am working with people in my spiritual community one on one, not to mention my work in the recovery circle I am a member of, both take a toll on life, not to mention school work and my marriage.

    If I don't dedicate time to prayer every day - I am like a rudderless ship. And over the last year, I took your prayer example and incorporated it into my life, and I have prayed for you daily ever since.

    You can say that I am observant to a fault. And you are correct in your own assessment that things have gotten heavy and a little dark. And I prayed about that but I guess today I had the courage to ask the hard question. (That is my recovery mind working)

    I've moved into an active ministry position here and learning how to incorporate everything is a fine balance, and I learn from all the ministers I read and participate with. One never knows when the right time comes to say something or if one is speaking out of turn.

    It just seemed that life was steamrolling you and the waves have overtaken you as of late, and I wonder why? But that is the insanity of life I guess. I try to avoid that at all costs.

    I am reading Margaret Craven lately and her book, I heard to Owl Call my Name, because I am ministering to my community in a religious capacity and I have to remember my place in the grand scheme of things.

    Many of us support and pray for you, I hope you do not loose your zeal to serve God in your community, If rest is needed then we shall pray for your ministry and for your family even more.

    It helps me to know that someone is praying for my community as well as myself. That's what this entire lenten journey was about - community - prayer and faith.

    Sometimes we have to say, I can't do everything and please God send me some help, because we cannot do it all by ourselves. I guess this is where we lob that prayer out to God and then we wait for an answer.



  6. As I think about what I'm about to add, it isn't as much spiritual or philosophical as a disturbing commentary that reinforces Randall's post. Last week The Current on CBC Radio1 had a segment on pastoral abuse. I believe they referred to a recent gathering on the topic, of clergy from a wide spectrum of faith communities in Winnipeg.

    The most discouraging story though, was an interview with a middle-aged evangelical pastor who recounted being threatened as a young pastor by one of the "royal" families in the local church with physical violence right then and there in the restaraunt, if he didn't immediately acquiesce to the family's wishes.

    Oh that we would be more concerned as disciples with the business of the Kingdom than our own petty agendas.

  7. Praying for you feller.

    "Something is broken in the way we do this pastoring thing."


  8. Jeremy;

    I think the whole image of steam rolling is right.

    Partly that is the nature of my work right now, for this season.
    The things that need to be done around here for now.

    And partly it's just the emotional "Stuff" of life this past two years. I think together they add up to tire me out emotionally and physically.

    And as a third part, its the course work I've been taking on Spiritual Direction. That's been the bright point on my horizon each week, bringing me back to Christ and the cross. That has kept me close to God. But it's also been about digging in around the foundations of my life, reviewing direction and purpose and even my identity.

    There are some very revealing things that I've come to understand about myself. Some good, and some not so good. But the better understanding is always good.

    Still, it's stressful even if its good.

    And thanks brother for you prayers, and encouragement. I appreciate it.

    I hadn't heard that CBC piece.

    I do know a pastor in a church where the church chair runs things, and his eldest son is the treasurer, and if things don't go how they want it to go, money and salary suddenly get "Tight."

    And I know of a church which was run by the treasurer who demanded to know where the pastor was going and who he was talking to, or else it would get tough to be reimbursed for his gas.

    And I know a pastor who got a death threat from one of his "Christians."

    I remember when I was a young pastor and I attended a meeting of some board or subcommittee or some such thing. For reasons that escape me now there was an argument that started up and they were yelling things at one another that I couldn't believe. I was so shocked that I went into some kind of deer in the headlights thing.

    They were yelling things at one another that would have seen me with a washed out mouth once upon a time.

    And that wasn't even the strangest thing. That came after the meeting ended quite suddenly, and WE ALL went out for coffee and chatted and carried on like nothing had happened!

    I was so freaked out, I tell you...

  9. Just wanted you to know that you are loved by us, appreciated by us and we don't let you know often enough. Life has a way of piling things up until we feel crushed. Usually it's when we are down already. You continue to speak God's word and struggle through life's junk right along side of us. It is this honest and awesome combination that I admire most.

    Praying for you guys.

  10. Thanks Tammy,

    That means a lot.

    And it's good to have you back home.

  11. Well, I am a few weeks replying to the original post, but I just wanted to thank you for your honesty in the reality of pastoring.
    I would also point out the positive in this community that I know Lauralea is participating in - the Pastor's wives fellowship. I know you are supportive of your children's activities. I have always appreciated the moments you have found for me, when I have stopped by your office unannounced. You have a pastor's heart, which reflects the spirit of Christ, and I have on more than one occasion encouraged Christians dealing with a church identity crisis to visit Gateway.
    May the Lord continue to bless your ministry in our community!

  12. Thanks so much Art.

    I needed that today.



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