First, I would like to let all Pastors out there know you are appreciated and it is recognized that the responsibilities resting on your shoulders are truly heavy burdens.
The actual word “pastor” is derived from a Latin word meaning “shepherd”. When you Wiki the word, it says: “Pastor” is the title of a person in the church who is the leader of a Christian congregation who also gives advice and counsel to people from the community or congregation. So they are basically a “Shepherd of People”. But, really think about it… what are they? When you break it down to the essence of that question, they are people who are called to serve and shepherd.
The majority of the public see the “Front of the House” side of the Pastor (only 5% of what they do), while very few see the “Back of the House” (where the remaining 95% of their responsibilities reside). It is not a job where you work only 2 hours, one day a week, on Sunday like most people think. It is WAY MORE than a full time job. Being a Pastor comes with nuisances that are specific only to that position.
Sadly, Pastors face the pressure of living “under the microscope” of judgement. Physical appearance, always being politically correct, saying the right words or NOT saying anything, etc.. Compound that with the constant self-talk/coaching/correction; “Am I saying the right thing?”, “What is the right thing to do?”, “Remember my facial expressions matter…” Constantly being aware of all these things is extremely difficult. Sometimes Pastors face Pessimism, Bitterness and even Family squabbles, as we all do from time to time, seasons of doubt in God’s provision, resentment towards people in the church and even depression can be results of Spiritual Warfare. And who else would be a better target in Spiritual Warfare other than a Pastor trying to lead people to Christ… “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8
*Here are some startling statistics on Pastor Stress:
- 75% of pastors report being “extremely stressed” or “highly stressed”
- 90% work between 55 to 75 hours per week
- 90% feel fatigued and worn out every week
- 70% say they’re grossly underpaid
- 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
- 78% were forced to resign from their church (63% at least twice), most commonly because of church conflict
- 80% will not be in ministry ten years later and only a fraction make it a lifelong career. On average, seminary trained pastors last only five years in church ministry
- 100% of 1,050 Reformed and Evangelical pastors had a colleague who had left the ministry because of burnout, church conflict, or moral failure
- 91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry and 18% say they are “fried to a crisp right now”
*Here are some startling statistics on Pastor’s Emotional Health, Family and Ministry
- 70% of pastors say they have a lower self-esteem now than when they entered ministry
- 70% constantly fight depression
- 50% feel so discouraged that they would leave their ministry if they could, but can’t find another job
- 80% believe their pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 33% said it was an outright hazard
- 80% of ministry spouses feel left out and unappreciated in their church
- 77% feel they do not have a good marriage
- 41% display anger problems in marriage (reported by the spouse)
- 38% are divorced or divorcing
- 50% admit to using pornography and 37% report inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church
- 65% feel their family is in a glass house
The outcome of the 5% (what people see) determines the success or failure of the 95% only few see. Some Pastors are “Fire-and-brimstone” preachers like Jonathan Edwards or they are the Billy Graham-type, sparking street revival or somewhere in between. No matter where they are, Pastors have the responsibility to lead people properly, truthfully and Biblically to salvation. “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15. People avoid them or act weird in public because they are a Pastor. Pastors must leave friends when they are called to a new church elsewhere. Pastors are expected to relate to people from all walks-of-life and be available 24/7 365. But, they are merely human called to do the work of God.
The business of Church Leadership:
While not at the pulpit, Pastors focus efforts on numerous things but not limited to: “outreach”, “member growth”, “individual requests”, “ministry support”, “stewardship”, “financial obligations” and “sermon preparation” by praying, studying, praying, studying and praying… you get what I am saying, basically, it is so much more of “operating a business” than what we actually know (or care to know).
Why be a Pastor
Simply; Because God told them to do it. Most of us determine our career by methods of studying and earning a degree or growth from experience. We want to earn enough money to support ourselves, family, etc. We start out with an end goal in mind and some determine success based on wealth. Preachers who are called to the ministry have a different goal in mind, not that of wealth. My Pastor, Kyle Meginity of New Point Church in Ponca City said, “My goal was to tell and spread the message of hope in Jesus to as many people as I could – whatever it takes. I am more than blessed that my family is supported by me doing what I do, but I would do it even if we were not supported.” So, why did they become Pastors…Because God told them to.
1 Peter 5:2 says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be: not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.”
It is my prayer that one day you, our Pastor, will hear: “…Well done, good and faithful servant!…” Matthew 25:23. Thank you for being a servant and shepherd.
*statistics from soulsheperding.org