All Articles Pastor Stress Statistics

Everywhere pastors go they are expected to be “on” — ready to give stellar leadership, unending compassion, an inspiring message, anointed prayer, or words of encouragement.

In 2009 we started Soul Shepherding as a training center to help pastors thrive with Jesus. Our unique approach as doctors of psychology and spiritual directors cultivates intimacy with Jesus, emotionally healthy relationships, and fruitful ministry. To discover how we can help you check out our Soul Shepherding Institute.

 

Pastors and other ministry leaders are often under so much stress that they find themselves just hanging on by a thread, about to burnout from exhaustion or blow out morally.

Pastor stress today is enormous. The expectations that people put on their pastors today — and that pastors put on themselves! — are debilitating. Everywhere pastors go they are expected to be “on” — ready to give stellar leadership, unending compassion, an inspiring message, anointed prayer, or words of encouragement.

As we minister to others we may become overstressed, depressed, or caught in compulsive and sinful behavior. Or we may find themselves feeling spiritually dry, tired of ministry, angry at God, stuck in our spiritual life, or burned out.

In 2009 we started Soul Shepherding as a training center to help pastors thrive with Jesus. Our unique approach as doctors of psychology and spiritual directors cultivates intimacy with Jesus, emotionally healthy relationships, and fruitful ministry. To discover how we can help you check out our Soul Shepherding Institute.

Research on Pastors’ Well-Being

Many research studies have been done on pastors’ stress, spiritual life, marriage, and family. In this article I summarize key results from more than ten studies and cite our source for each statistic. Also I suggest the negative effects of ministry on the well-being of pastors and their families is probably due to a combination of stress overload and inadequate personal soul care.

Statistics on Pastors’ Ministry Stress

Why aren’t these pastors overflowing with the love, joy and peace of the Lord in their lives, families and ministries? What is the cause of their emotional problems and moral failures? A major factor is overwhelming ministry stress:

  • 75% of pastors report being “extremely stressed” or “highly stressed” (1)
  • 90% work between 55 to 75 hours per week (2)
  • 90% feel fatigued and worn out every week (1)
  • 70% say they’re grossly underpaid (2)
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month (1)
  • 78% were forced to resign and 63% at least twice, most commonly because of church conflict (1)
  • 80% will not be in ministry ten years later and only a fraction make it a lifelong career (1). Seminary trained pastors last only five years in church ministry (2)
  • 100% of 1,050 Reformed and Evangelical pastors had a colleague who had left the ministry because of burnout, church conflict, or moral failure (2)
  • 91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry and 18% say they are “fried to a crisp right now” (7)

Statistics on Pastors’ Emotional Health, Family, and Morality

It’s particularly disturbing to see how much pastors are struggling with emotional pain, family problems, loving well, and moral failures:

  • 70% of pastors say they have a lower self-esteem now than when they entered ministry (1)
  • 70% constantly fight depression (2)
  • 50% feel so discouraged that they would leave their ministry if they could, but can’t find another job (2)
  • 80% believe their pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 33% said it was an outright hazard (1)
  • 80% of ministry spouses feel left out and unappreciated in their church (2)
  • 77% feel they do not have a good marriage (2)
  • 41% display anger problems in marriage (reported by the spouse) (3)
  • 38% are divorced or divorcing (1)
  • 50% admit to using pornography and 37% report inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church (1)
  • 65% feel their family is in a glass house (2)

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