Being a pastor is a blessing, but it can be discouraging, too. Here are some ways you can encourage your pastors.
by Ed Stetzer and Chris Martin
According to just about every stat I hear, pastors hate the ministry, feel miserable, and would get out of the ministry if they could because being in the ministry is hurting their families. You’ve probably heard these statistics at a pastors’ conference. So, a few years ago, we decided to do a crazy thing — we actually asked pastors.
What Does the Research Really Say?
We found a different picture when we actually talked with the pastors. There is discouragement and loneliness, but when 98 percent agree it is a privilege to be a pastor, we also know there is a great honor and reward that comes along with being a pastor.
Yet, more than half (55 percent) also agree with the statement “I find that it is easy to get discouraged,” and 55 percent say being in pastoral ministry makes them feel lonely at times. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Being a pastor is no cakewalk. It’s more than writing sermons and having coffee with people. It’s doing funerals of toddlers; it’s counseling adulterous couples; it’s praying for a mother who was just diagnosed with breast cancer; it’s working on cost-efficient building plans. Pastoring the people of God is hard work; it’s a high calling for a reason.
However, while leading the local church does take a toll, most pastors feel rewarded in their work.
Nearly 8 in 10 pastors (79 percent) disagreed with the statement “Being in ministry has had a negative effect on my family.” The study found that 18 percent of pastors have more than 10 close friends in their congregation. In addition, 16 percent have 6 to 10 friends, 38 percent have 3 to 5 friends, 10 percent have 2 friends, and 4 percent have 1 friend. But 12 percent of pastors have no close friends in their congregation. As you can see from our research, not all pastors are depressed and lonely.
Many pastors love their jobs and have plenty of friends — they aren’t lonely or depressed at all. But many are. The high calling of pastoring the local church is emotionally, spiritually, and even physically stressful at times. So what can we do? How can we support the leaders of our local churches?
How can we show them our appreciation and encourage them as they fulfill the calling the Lord has given them?