Check out this article on how much it sucks to be a pastor. Well, not really, but it does beg the question of why anyone would feel called to this kind of work. Some of the stats it shares are:
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a closefriend.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 45.5 % of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
- 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
The truth is it’s a hard time to be a faith leader no matter who you are, no matter how kind and genuine and personable and intelligent and fun/ny you are. We just don’t really take faith seriously as a culture and we often don’t understand (or respect) those who make it their work.
And it gets far worse for those operating within existing institutions with unrealistic and unrelenting expectations coming from both within and without.
I have to wonder what it would look like if we as a body of believers or non-believers revered those who make it their life’s work to build up and support communities of people seeking after something bigger than themselves. It wouldn’t have to mean lessening accountability but it would mean deepening the relationships of trust between us. It would mean loosening our grip on what we expect of our leaders and instead encouraging and protecting them as they do the necessarily creative and entrepreneurial work to which they are called.
In order for that to happen though, we’d probably also need to loosen our grip on our ideas about where God might be and let these individuals help us to shut up long enough to let the I AM, the source of all being, make itself known to us in unexpected places.
If we could do all that, maybe our joy at encountering God might carry over to those who have helped to bring us to that place and maybe it wouldn’t suck so much to be a pastor.