| |

Burned Out Pastors

One of my observations in both churches of which I’ve been a member and churches I’ve visited, representing several denominations, is that the actual job of the pastor is so enormous and multi-faceted that no human being could actually perform it.

That isn’t what was envisioned in the New Testament, but it has become pervasive. Responding to an article in the New York Times, Arthur Sido has some excellent comments on this point. I’d add my small quibble–I’d say “men and women” where he says “men,” but in general I just say a hearty “Amen” to his post.

What truly bothers me on this issue is the way in which we cling to stupidity in the church. There are many cases where the Bible asks us to stand against the viewpoint of our secular culture. But any business consultant could tell us that the model of church management we use isn’t going to work, and that the actual job description of a pastor is impossible to fill. Those who try are destined for much heartache.

I do see a place for the professional ministry, in the sense of people paid for full time service. But both to save their sanity, and to allow the church to accomplish its full mission, we need every member active in ministry, which those paid full time equipping the whole body.

In this case we’re running hard against both Biblical commands and common sense. I wonder why we do that!

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Appreciate the post. Unfortunately all this data comparing clergy to the general population isn’t all that helpful, unless you look at other factors, such as age. Maybe some of this higher incidence of depression and hypertension is a result of UMC clergy being older than the general population? We know that depression increases with age. The other thing is that clergy should be compared with people in other helping professions, not just the general population.

    Clergy are always dealing with loss, death, dying, life-threatening illness,and other crises and much much more than the general population. We know those stressors are very high in terms of harmful impact.

    So, in a way, these studies are not very helpful in understanding the problems just by tallying responses without any context. Sure, we need sabbath time. That will help. But to lay these problems off just on how clergy and churches manage their time is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Isn’t the horse-riding 18th century job description of a pastor in the UMC a tad unreal?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *