Friday, June 01, 2012
Pastors and Reality
According to just about every stat I hear, pastors hate the ministry, are miserable, would get out what if they could-- and that it is hurting their family. You've probably heard these statistics at a pastors conference. So, we decided to do a crazy thing-- we actually asked them.The two key take-aways from that: 1) pastors isolate themselves, and 2) the same thing is true for pretty much any job.
We find a different picture when we actually ask the pastors. There is discouragement and loneliness, but when 98 percent agree it is a privilege to be a pastor, we also know there is a great honor to being a pastor.
Pastors feel privileged, but clearly the reality of constant service can take its toll. There is discouragement and loneliness in ministry. It appears that the larger the church the more present the loneliness.
Relationships matter and it appears that pastors value those friendship -- particularly as they get older. Older pastors (and I would add, younger pastors with wisdom) have developed more close friendships within their church and are less likely to be discouraged or lonely. This combination mirrors workplace studies that have shown that more friendships at work correspond with higher satisfaction with a person's job and life.
Once statistical factor that Stetzer seems to have left out is that those who get into ministry so they can have some feeling of import or acceptance, or some such are the most likely to feel isolated, because they felt that way before they got into it, and secondly they are most likely to quit, which would explain the improvements in older pastors.
What really concerns me is that this cycle takes a heavy toll on both the "failed" minister and the church. We used to have better gatekeepers so that this did not happen so much, but not anymore.
What is to be done?