We love our pastors – they are there to marry and bury and counsel us. Yet we also put too much on them and are oblivious to their pain. Here are some of the results according to a Schaeffer Institute report:
71% of pastors are so stressed out and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry.
70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
72% of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons.
80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
70% say they don’t have a close friend.
80% of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within five years.
The result? A shocking number of pastors are committing suicide. Pastor Teddy Parker, Jr., Pastor Ed Montgomery, and Pastor Isaac Hunter are three who shot themselves in the last couple of months.
I have worked with pastors around the world and have seen that our definition of the role here in the U.S. doesn’t have to be the norm. Our current definition of the role puts too much pressure on pastors and doesn’t line up with what the Bible prescribes (see a list of passages here).
In Ephesians 4:11-16, we see that churches are to be established and led by at least five people with different gifts. The pastor is just one of the five. 1 Timothy describes the leaders of the church not as pastors but as overseers or elders.
Look at the pastor of your church. How much of the emotional weight of the church congregation do you think he takes home with him every day? Who do you suppose that he goes to for encouragement? Is his role sustainable?
Maybe it’s time to give our pastors a break. What do you think?