Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not News to Me

The first church I served out of seminary was in the Metro Columbus (OH) Baptist Association. For sentimental reasons, I am still on the mailing list for the associational newsletter. The September issue was in my mailbox this morning. DOM Rich Halcombe's column (actually, it took up 4.5 columns) was entitled "The Loneliness of the Leader". Rich had some great advice on how ministers can successfully navigate the dark waters that inevitably come with minstry. I found it interesting that he gave that advice before listing some statistics shared in an ordination service for a MCBA pastor. The stats were not news to me, nor will they be news to anyone who has served in the ministry for any length of time. Consider:
  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to spiritual burnout, contention in their churches, or moral failure.
  • Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years. Ninety percent of pastors said their seminary or Bible school training did only a fair to poor job preparing them for ministry.
  • Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.
  • Seventy percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
  • Ninety percent said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.
  • Seventy percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses fell their spouse is overworked.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they are really not.
  • The majority of pastors' wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Eighty percent of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
  • Seventy percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.

While I don't know the preacher's source for the above statistics, the implications ring true to my experience. Though I'm not a preacher by trade or training, some time ago I preached a sermon entitle "Elijah's Aftermath" in which I shared my own struggles with depression. While it may be true that those who are bent toward helping professions may be wired so that they are more prone to depression than those who choose other lines of work, there can be no doubt that it is a definite occupational hazard for ministers. Fuller Seminary professor Archibald Hart (holder of terminal degrees in psychology, biochemistry, and psychopharmacology) rates ministry in the top three most stressful occupations. Not news to me.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home