Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in anxiety, church, church members, conflict, expectations, hurt, ministry, pastoring, pastors, preachers, stress | Posted on 03-05-2013
There you sit at your desk. You’ve got a sermon to get ready for Sunday morning, not to mention Sunday night. There are two messages for you about two sick church members in the hospital, not to mention the three people you really need to visit in their homes. On top of that, you still have to get out and see those families that have been visiting the church. You kick yourself mentally for not having done it yet. Maybe a phone call will suffice.
Then there was that contentious conversation you had with the wife of one of your deacons on Wednesday. She wasn’t happy about one of the recent church events. It had something to do with how one of the members of the youth group had been acting. She talked and talked. You listened patiently, but you were doing your best not to just snap. It wasn’t the first, or last time she will complain.
There’s an associational prayer breakfast you really should go to Saturday. There’s a couple in the church who is getting married and you have to set up counseling. You’ve got the next two months schedule to set up. Part of you just wants to throw all of it in the trash. You’re not lazy, you’re just overwhelmed.
Why did you get into this in the first place? It takes you a minute, but you remember – because you wanted to preach the word of God. To see people saved. You remember how hungry the people were for the word of God in the beginning, but now it seems like the little things are catching up.
You’ve had times of being weary before. You think you remember what vacation was like. You remember what it was like to spend time with your family. No one really understands what it’s like to be a pastor. But you trudge along, doing the work. Because there are so many rewarding moments.
Then, the phone rings.
Here’s the deal – you’re not alone. There are a lot of frustrated pastors out there who feel like they’re at the end of their rope.
Here are a few statistics that I quoted in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World“:
- 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged and dealing with depression
- More than 40% of pastors and 47% of their spouses report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and unrealistic expectations
- Approximately 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within their local congregations
- 89% of pastors stated they considered leaving the ministry at one time
That’s just a few of the statistics that should let pastors know that they’re not suffering alone. It should also let us know that there’s something wrong when pastors feel that way.
Not every pastor goes through that either. I’ve had several pastors say, “I don’t identify with any of the statistics you present at all.” Good for you. I hope you never do.
But if you are going through a tough time, understand that you may be feeling that way for a reason. Maybe there are unrealistic expectations on you. There should be high expectations for you. But unrealistic expectations are not good. Whether you put them on yourself or someone else has.
Know this – everyone has a breaking point. And before you get there, reach out for help. I’ve been on the other side of the breaking point and known men who have been there. You don’t want to be there. Especially when there are a lot of people who can help you before you break.
If you’re in an association, look to the leaders there. Find a mentor or friend for guidance. If you’re struggling with sexual temptation, contact me and I can help or send you to someone who can. I’m also part of a network who helps struggling pastors.
The worst thing you can do is pretend you don’t have a problem or act like you’re not struggling. It’s not easy having people come to you for their spiritual needs, shepherding the flock, balancing time with your family, and finding time for yourself. It is difficult.
Please get help if you need it. For you, your family and for those you minister to.
Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.”