In ministry there is almost always at least one more thing that could be done today. One of the axioms of ministry is that “Sunday just keeps coming.” It also holds true that there is always another call to make, another problem to solve, another card to write…
I have often had conversations with leaders who seem to take pride in their over-committed schedules. Then, I almost immediately wonder why they seem to boast and at the same time complain about a schedule with which they created. My contention is that those of us in ministry must learn to balance our desire/need to serve others and our personal/family health. The costs are too great to ignore.
According to the New York Times :
“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.”
Take a look at these statistics from H. B. London’s book, Pastors at Greater Risk:
- 13% of active pastors are divorced.
- 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
- 25% of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict.
- 33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
- 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
- 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
- 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
- 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
- 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
- 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
Wow! That should serve as a clarion call for change in the way we as leaders handle our schedules. Because of the very nature of the job along with the expectations of the congregation we serve, there are inherent dangers to ourselves and to our families. To live a balanced ministry life we must be consistantly working to develop a culture that encourages and focuses on a balanced life style in ministry. How are you doing? What steps have you taken to protect yourself and your family?