I could not read Paul David Tripp’s book, “Dangerous Calling,” without wondering why anyone would want to become a pastor, which is why the calling of God is essential. It is not for the faint at heart. The book has wonderful suggestions for breathing health back into vocational ministry, while it highlights scary facts of the current condition of the church (and of pastors) that causes so many depressing casualties. This world reveals that we are living in a battleground not a playground. It wasn’t easy for the disciples in the New Testament either, since ten of the original Twelve died as martyrs. We have to remember that the Christian life is an impossible life to live, unless we are fully surrendered followers of Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit.
Surveys reveal that somewhere between 1,500 and 1,800 pastors resign every month, totaling 20,000 a year. I have experienced the heartbreak of seeing dear friends of mine, people of character, highly educated and well trained, resign and enter the workforce, because of circumstances beyond their control. Other resignations resulting from moral failure is incredibly disheartening and the lasting consequences ripple through the church, the family and the next generation. Whatever the reason for a resignation, it is time that we consider how to prevent it from happening unnecessarily.
Some pastors burn out, some rust out, but at the end of the day, they are out, and somewhere our enemy is rejoicing. Mark Clement writes a powerful article about this crisis in our churches. (http://www.churchplants.com/articles/8980-why-so-many-staffers-are-unhappy-mark-clement.html)
- 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the demands of their jobs.
- 80 percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
- 50 percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost 40 percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- 90 percent said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.
- 80 percent of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
- 70 percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant or mentor. 56 percent of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
- 95 percent of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
- 80 percent of pastors surveyed spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer.
- 70 percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. (These statistics came from across denomination lines, and have been gleaned from various reliable sources such as Pastor to Pastor, Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, Campus Crusade for Christ, Global Pastors Network and the New York Times.)
If you are a prayer warrior, please keep praying for your pastors, who often are on the front lines of the battle of Jesus’ call for world revolution. Is there any wonder why these people are under attack?