I am in the process of concluding a mini-sabbatical (3 1/2 weeks) and am grateful for the time I’ve had away to rest and refresh myself spiritually. More congregations need to demand that their pastors take these types of breaks to protect themselves against the pitfalls of ministry. And yes, there are many pitfalls.
The North American Mission Board recently published some alarming statistics gathered by my old friend Darrin Patrick:
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
- Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
- Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
- Pastors’ Wives
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
I spent most of my time digging into God’s Word, not for sermon preparation or for writing curriculum or any ministry purpose, but just to feed my soul. I literally spent dozens and dozens of hours inductively studying about 200 chapters of the Bible. I am richly encouraged, to say the least.
I am thankful for this time I’ve had away but I am also ready to jump back in the saddle and get to work. I will be preaching this Sunday morning at Harvest and then returning to the office on Tuesday. I can hardly wait!