Dan White Jr., pastors’ coach and co-founder of The KINEO Center, a retreat and counseling center for spiritual leaders, shared with his Twitter followers on Thursday that he speaks to many pastors who are discouraged and burning out from constant criticism. Many of his followers expressed their ability to relate.
“I am meeting Pastor after Pastor that (sic) is considering resigning, not because they don’t love the Church,” White tweeted. “They are considering this because their role has become unliveable. The critics and contrarians are dominating their bandwidth and there’s no reprieve. They can’t get any air.”
A number of pastors and former pastors were quick to affirm White’s statement by sharing their own experiences.
“I’ve been a pastor in the UK for 37 years and definitely the toughest past 2 years. Polarisation seems to affect us and tough to live the radical middle without upsetting someone,” one response read.
Another wrote, “Exactly why I left working for a church. I’m still called to pastor. Just don’t want to pastor in a church…I think seminary gave me this passion to revolutionize a church. Then when I worked for one I realized not only could I not revolutionize it but also it was deforming me. My vocation is elsewhere but my calling is to pastor.”
“Put in my official resignation last month. My final day is Jan 2, which marks my 20th anniversary at the church. Being a pastor is all I ever wanted to do, but I honestly don’t know if I can ever hold that position again,” another pastor wrote. When asked about why he was stepping away after two decades, he replied, “There are many things, but a large reason is extreme burnout.”
A recent Lifeway Research report found that pastors are not resigning in 2021 at higher rates than previous years. Nevertheless, pastors have faced considerable challenges in 2020-2021, including a global pandemic, racial unrest and upheaval around the nation, and increased political polarization.
The report also noted that “The difficult moments and seasons pastors face require ongoing investment in their spiritual, physical and mental well-being…Most pastors and churches have practices that help the pastor in these ways, but there are often missed opportunities to encourage, build up and avoid misunderstandings.”
Others have echoed the need for pastors to have resources and disciplines to refresh their physical and spiritual well-being, rather than ignore or cover up those needs.