What? Pastors Are Real-Live People?
The statistics are sobering.
Already seven years ago, a Duke University study found that 85 percent of seminary graduates entering the ministry leave within five years and 90 percent of all pastors will not stay to retirement.
Another study they published last year showed that the anxiety rate among clergy was 13.5 percent, and more than 7 percent of clergy experienced depression and anxiety.
This isn’t exactly good news but it is eye opening. Who can blame them? Have you read God’s job qualifications for a pastor?
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
In addition, we often expect pastors to do a majority of the work in and out of the church, when in reality they are supposed to train us, to equip us so we can be the church.
While you can't stop the nationwide rates, maybe you can make it your personal mission to reduce your pastor’s stress by giving your pastor some grace.
Give your pastor the same grace you want for yourself.
They are not superhuman.
As they preach, counsel, and equip, they are (if they are honest) fully aware of their weaknesses, temptations, and shortcomings. So when you pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” that includes your pastor’s sins. They are simply a fellow beggar whose full-time job is to show you where they found bread.
Give their spouses grace. Hearing your spouse put down for everything that is wrong with the church is draining. Expecting 100 percent participation in every activity is overwhelming. While they often love to participate in the ministry of the church, they are also real-live people who need outside hobbies and activities. How else will they share their faith if they aren’t out in the community?
Give their children grace. It’s not easy to be the child of someone who serves in the ministry full time. They grow up in a fishbowl. The expectation is that they somehow sit just a little better throughout worship, that they never even have a question about their faith, that they never get tired or struggle with the same problems “normal” children face. Plus, pastors worry about their children and struggle with the same insecurities and fears you do.