Leaders in ministry are involved in a vocation that has a dismal track record. Maybe it’s the pressures involved? Maybe it’s the high expectations? Either way, a great majority of ministry leaders struggle to finish well. In fact, H.B. London Jr.’s book, Pastors at Greater Risk, shares the following horrifying statistics:
– 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
– 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family
– 75% report that they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
– 90 % feel they’re inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
– 80% of people in ministry say they have insufficient times with their spouse
– 56% of pastors wives say they have no close friends
– 45.5% of pastors say they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry
– Those in ministry are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members
– 70% of ministry leaders say they do not have someone they consider a close friend.
While it’s easy to shrug off statistics, it’s a lot different when you find yourself on the verge of becoming one. In my time in ministry, I have succeeded and I have failed. Most people have no idea how demanding ministry can be or how demanding they can be. Several years ago, as I was younger in ministry, I made the mistake of thinking, “This feels right.” “People need me; they value me.” “I’m serving God; I’m right where I need to be.” As years have passed, I have learned that being on call 24/7 can wear you down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The thing that once made me feel valuable is the same thing that has made me feel imprisoned. I was doing everything I could to fix everyone else’s problems, but I was neglecting my own.
To this day, I continue to struggle with balancing my life. I, like you, am a work in progress. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12). As someone who has a desire to help others, I find it difficult to say “no” or to refrain from volunteering myself to do something I know I could do with excellence. The problem with going non-stop is that you will eventually breakdown. Your body will be wrecked with fatigue and your mental state will deteriorate quickly.
Whatever odds you’re facing, my challenge to you (and myself) today is to slow down. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Begin asking God to quiet every voice around you, including your own, so that you can hear more from Him. Get alone and spend quality time with God.
Reorganize your priorities: God. Family. Ministry.
Rather than being a statistic because you’re “against all odds,” begin to understand that with God, “may the odds be ever in your favor.” (Katniss Everdeen from ‘The Hunger Games’)
– Pastor Stuart Richardson