By Bill Gaultiere © 2009, 2012
Pastors and other ministry leaders are often under so much stress they find themselves just hanging on by a thread, about to burnout.
Pastor stress is enormous. They care for the hurting, lift up the discouraged, and teach the seekers to follow Jesus. At every meeting people expect them to be “on” — ready to give leadership, a message, prayer, or a word of encouragement. They give their lives to invest in the spiritual lives of others.
Who Ministers to Pastors?
But who ministers to pastors? Who is caring for the pastor’s heart and investing in his or her relationship with God? Who is helping them to remain fruitful for Christ and the people they minister to? Who cares for the pastor who cares for you?
Most pastors aren’t sure who to confide in. Many feel alone.
Pastors, like anyone else — perhaps more so because of the nature of their work and the expectations people have for them — may become overstressed, depressed, or caught in a compulsive behavior. Or they may find themselves feeling spiritually dry, tired of ministry, angry at God, stuck in their spiritual life, or burned out.
Sometimes ministry leaders need psychotherapy or specialized soul care. Other times they need spiritual renewal or guidance. Always they need a safe soul friend to listen and provide encouragement and prayer.
And when a pastor or other leader is helped to grow into greater intimacy with Christ tremendous blessings overflow to his or her family and the many people that he or she has influence over.
This is why we started the ministry of Soul Shepherding as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2009.
Statistics on Pastor Stress
Statistics on pastor stress are alarming. (The same is true for The Pastor’s Wife.) Surveys of pastors show their great need for Soul Shepherding…
- 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job
- 50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last 6 months
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
- The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman.”
- 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend
- 55% say they are discouraged
- 33% confess having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church
- The number one reason why pastors leave the ministry is burn out and number two is moral failure.
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents
- 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family
- 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry
(Statistics are compiled from surveys of pastors done by HB London, Jr., The Fuller Institute, George Barna, Pastoral Care Inc, and LifeWay Research.)
Soul Shepherding for Pastors
“Ministry Begins with Rest” is a short article to encourage you as a leader to get the rest you need.
I compiled a number of key Scriptures to write “A Prayer of Affirmation for Pastors” to help pastors and leaders like myself cultivate the reliance on God that empowers ministry.We offer psychotherapy and spiritual mentoring to pastors, pastor’s wives, missionaries, and other ministry leaders for whatever they can afford. Tax-deductible donations to Soul Shepherding support this ministry.
“Soul Shepherding is for you and your ministry”
Bill Gaultiere, Ph.D. & Kristi Gaultiere, Psy.D. ~ Soul Shepherding ~ Irvine, CA