I often find that pastoral ministry is really an indescribable experience. I am able to feel some of the greatest joys that anyone could every feel. I get to see amazing things happen inside of homes that are nothing short of miraculous. I get to see Jesus make himself known inside the hearts of people on a regular basis. I see people being dramatically transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ weekly. I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose to make himself known through my weakness.
I have also had some difficult times in my ministry career. Honestly, I have seen more of those times after I began pastoring The Crossings some years ago. Somewhere within the collision of Lead Pastor and Church Planter there emerged a new set of obstacles.
In a very awkward way, reading statistics like this are comforting. Before you question my sanity let me tell you a little more… they are not comforting in what they directly communicate but rather what they cause me to remember. When I see things like this –
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
… I am reminded that we as pastors are fighting a spiritual battle that is so very real. I was called specifically by God to give my life proclaiming his message and discipling his people. I was called to give every bit of me to every bit of him. God not only called me but he appointed me to a position to walk in that calling. If ANYTHING receives the attention of Satan (the deceiver and accuser) then such a calling as I have described would be one of those things.
Reading statistics like this are encouraging only because they remind me that my calling places me on a battle field surrounded by the enemy. Although I know that my sword and shield will triumph that does not mean I will avoid a bloody fight. Understanding the nature and reality of the fight are foundational to mustering the endurance to suit-up every day. I pray that by God’s grace he will protect me and my family from becoming one of these statistics… and I pray that he will deliver those who have already found themselves deeply embedded within these numbers.