Able Counseling serve Clergy & All Congregations!
We provide pastoral counseling, ministry conflict management(in office & online)
Research: Why your pastors leave the ministry!
23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go.
90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
45% pastors have experienced depression to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
90% work more than 50 hours a week.
Sherman, Daniel. 2017. “Pastor Burnout Statistics,” PastorBurnout.
Ministry leaders are leaving their positions in record numbers. What causes pastors to quit? According the Duke Clergy Health Initiative (2014), burnout is a combination of three factors: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Poor physical health and medical conditions are often contributing factors. "Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could" (Vitello 2010).
Daniel Sherman (2017) has compiled statistics from numerous surveys of pastors on his website, PastorBurnout.com. Some of the more eye-opening results are included in the accompanying graphic.
Pastors are not "snowflakes" who are unable to handle the stress of their jobs. Like most people, pastors are generally realistic about what to expect on the job. But the nature of the job has changed dramatically in the past thirty years, driven by greater expectations and demands from members. In the pressure cooker of ministry, the lack of margin becomes acute. Normal stressors, such as tension in marriage or poor time management habits, wind up having exaggerated effects as the ability to cope and resist diminishes.
There are no easy answers to the problem of clergy burnout. Counselors and denominational leaders have been emphasizing the importance of clergy self-care for a generation, without discernible results. Meanwhile, the trends and forces propelling pastors to keep up with the Joneses do not show signs of going away. Pastors continue to find themselves emotionally exhausted and depersonalized and feel their work accomplishes little.
A solution begins with understanding the severity of the problem, along with its contributing factors and causes. Pastors and ministry leaders should not sweep the matter of burnout under the carpet but should deal with it openly and honestly. Knowing the warning signs may not prevent burnout but may encourage us to seek help sooner or to encourage others to seek help. Another good beginning is acknowledging that every pastor is at risk, including you. Burnout is not something that happens only to other pastors. It can happen to you. Finally, lay leaders have a crucial role in a good beginning, both in supporting their pastors and in promoting a more appreciative and encouraging environment in their churches for the pastors.