These stats have to get better.
I believe there are many people and agencies trying to help but most of them are helping after the fact. We need to lean in as churches and do some things differently to help our pastors and their families stay healthy and strong. Help me brainstorm this. I'll begin and you keep adding in the comments section. (Oh, and remember, most pastors aren't going to ask for this stuff. Church leaders, lead the way! Fight for the health and strength of your pastor.)
13% of active pastors are divorced.
Send your pastor and his spouse on a marriage retreat or couples vacation (No kids!)
23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
Authority has been lost in churches. Let's give these guys a little respect. They are fathering you. Honor them as a spiritual father and stop treating them like the Manager at Wal-Mart.
25% of pastors' wives see their husband's work schedule as a source of conflict.
Church Leaders: Keep your pastor accountable on keeping a Sabbath and taking a day off. Make sure that he has his phone turned off and that there is a group of people handling the emergencies on those days.
33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
A rule of thumb for time off (not conferences, not working vacations, not study breaks): 1 day per week, 2 weekends per quarter, 4 weeks a year.
A rule of thumb for work schedule: Divide the day into 3: morning, afternoon, evening. Work 2 of the 3
(Both of those were inspired by Sam Williams.)
33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
This is not because they are lifting heavy books. It's because they're dealing with difficult people. Build a defense team around your pastor. Don't let him take all the hits. It will kill him.
52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health.
Pastors don't notice the hits first. Their spouses do. Do all you can not only to take care of the pastor but to make sure that the spouse and kids are supported, loved, encouraged and protected. (This is more than just having them over on Sunday—that actually is the worst by the way, their whole family is exhausted.) You have to put yourself in a position to 'have their back.'
40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
Pastors have to take responsibility for this. They have to stand up for better and healthier rhythms. Church, you have to allow them this. You are the church. Take on the load of ministry.
45% of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
Provide your pastor with a coach or a counselor. This should not be episodic. It must be a built in provision that the church pays for. The stress of these men and women is so high that they need someone to pastor them. Someone from outside the church is the best bet.
56% of pastors' wives say that they have no close friends.
Most think that they are playing favorites and making people mad. Many in the church affirm this by their actions and words. Let your pastor have friends. Affirm this. Don't get offended if it's not you.
57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
Again, this is not because they have to study so much for sermons. People make this job so tough that all they are pouring out on you doesn't ever get replenished by their own faith community. Ease their burden in any way you can.
70% don't have any close friends.
See two bullets above. And I would add be their friend. Sometimes pastors don't need you to be a church member, they need you simply to be their friend.
75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
Get them some counseling or a good coach to walk alongside of them. This is a high percentage. They need it. Stop thinking they have it all under control. They don't.
80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
This is their fault, too. But how about paying them enough so they can pay for babysitting or an actual real date?
80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
Some didn't count the cost before they got in. Others are doing all they can with good motives and hard work. This is tough work. Find multiple and regular ways to love your pastor.
90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
Provide and pay for training, coaching, conferences, books, etc for their continued learning.
Lastly, I think the very best thing you can do for your pastor is to actually follow Jesus. If you are loving God and loving people, if you are laser-focused on living in the ways of Jesus, if you are really living for the mission of God, you will automatically bless your pastor.
Your turn. What would you add to any of the bullets? What would you add in general?
Pastors, how would you feel supported and loved?
CC Image • Harshit Sekhon on Flickr