By Dan Blair, a Christian marriage counselor and family counselor.
The burdens that pastors carry are many. Dr. Greg Smalley reports that 80 percent of pastors leave the ministry within five years of graduating seminary. He adds that 1500 pastors a month leave due to burnout or moral failure. Counselors studying the trend found that many pastors could no longer withstand the desperate need to validate their pastoral leadership by growing their churches attendance. According to a Barna Group study released in 2017, 26% of pastors have faced significant marital problems. And 48% agree their current ministry is difficult on their families. Pastors give so much to others, but the pressures are heavy enough to hamper their availability to their families, or self-care.
Dr. Mark McMinn through his data-based method of church consultation shared ten burdens pastors face.
- Role conflicts. Pastors get asked to do many things above and beyond the job description.
- Proliferation of activities. New endeavors are started without adequate support for the programs already in place.
- Administrative duties. Pastors are not necessarily trained in spread sheets.
- Spiritual dryness. People face deserts in life, but pastors are not expected to be “people.”
- Perfectionism or inadequacy. Pastors can hold unrealistic standards for themselves.
- Unrelenting standards. Others can hold unrelenting standards for the pastor.
- No time to be alone, while feeling alone or lonely. Both can be true.
- Intrusions on time. The unexpected often occurs at inopportune times.
- Failure of dreams. Often visions don’t occur as planned.
- Blocked goals. Attempts at accomplishment are meant with resistance.
Pastors are also vulnerable to a lifestyle of obligation. Resentment and burn out tends to subtly enter the picture which is countered by a sense of pride that discounts seeking help. It becomes easier to justify one’s actions which also may be hurtful to others.
What is missing? Commitment to soul care in the context of community where one can be honest. Pastors most often use an intrapersonal coping style versus interpersonal coping. Balancing coping strategies means pastors need their own support system.
Blair Counseling and Mediation offers wellness checks and personal support for the unique stressors that pastors in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago at no cost as part of our commitment to the local church. Feel free to call an experienced Christian counselor at anytime.