Ministry is hard. I hate saying that because it sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m actually just stating a fact. According to the statistics, between sixty to eighty percent of those who enter the ministry will not make it past ten years. Less than fifteen percent of pastors will last long enough to retire from ministry.
This month (December) I will celebrate five years in full time ministry. I have a long way to go, but I can honestly say it’s been the most enjoyable five years of my life. For me, I’m living my dream, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
There are seasons of stress, especially around big events or when we’re implementing new initiatives. There are times when the ministry has affected my marriage in a negative way. There are moments where I would really like to tell someone what I’m thinking but I can’t. And on occasion I think to myself, you know I could make more money if I went and did something else.
I have these moments, but ninety percent of the time, I absolutely love what I do. Unfortunately, I know a lot of pastors can’t say that. For many pastors what started out as a dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- Pastors are overworked and overwhelmed. Ninety percent of pastors report working more than fifty-five hours a week. Fifty percent of which feel they’re not qualified to meet the demands of their job.
- Pastors are surprised. Ninety percent of pastors said the ministry was completely different than they thought it would be like and not in a good way.
- Pastors are lonely. Seventy percent of pastors don’t feel like they have a close friend they can confide in. This is only made worse by the fact that forty percent of pastors report serious conflict with church members at least once a week.
- Pastors are depressed. Seventy percent of pastors deal with depression throughout their ministry. Fifty percent of pastors said they would leave ministry if they could, but they feel like they have no other way of making a living.
- Pastors’ families suffer. Eighty percent of pastors report that the ministry has affected their family in a negative way. Their spouses agree; eighty percent of them feel under-appreciated and left out by church members.
With the list above, it’s no wonder seventy percent of pastors feel they’re grossly underpaid. So year after year thousands of pastors leave the ministry, and fewer and fewer sign up to take their place.
If you’re one of these pastors who may be thinking about giving up let me offer you some encouragement.
- Remember you’re not alone. There are thousands of pastors who have felt what you’re feeling and have been through what you’re going through.
- Put your trust in God. Don’t neglect your relationship with God. Recommit yourself to prayer and the reading of God’s word.
- Breathe. It may feel like the world is resting on your shoulders, but I promise you God’s got this. He knows exactly what you’re going through.
- Focus. What’s one good thing God is doing in your life or your church? What’s one thing you can accomplish in the next six weeks that adds value to your church?
Small victories allow you to gain momentum. If you’ve been neglecting your marriage, spend the next six weeks getting it back on track. If you feel discouraged, spend the next six weeks around someone that encourages you.
Don’t stop after the first six weeks. Every six weeks focus on one thing that moves your ministry forward because we can’t afford to lose you. We need you in this race, so keep running.
Have you ever been tempted to quit? How did you get past that feeling?