In 2022, there are more pastors who say they’ve seriously considered quitting vocational ministry (42 percent according to the latest research by Barna Group) than at any other time in our lifetime.
There are multiple reasons why so many pastors feel burned out, feed up, or overwhelmed. But beneath all the stress, anxiety, depression, anger, disappointment, and other thoughts and emotional states of many pastors who are ready to quit (or very frustrated in their service in the church) is a major problem that is actually caused by themselves.
Yep, it’s an individual, personal choice they have made, and continue to make, that impacts their living out their call as a church leader more so than all the other things they feel impacted by, like:
- The challenges and criticisms over their leadership through the pandemic.
- Conflict about politics from church members.
- Unparalleled heightened level of church members criticizing church leaders, that “nothing a pastor does” seems to please at least half of their congregation.
- The loss of many church members over the last two years, many of whom have not returned to church and don’t intend to …
… and other things.
Beyond what is happening “to” them, many pastors bear the responsibility of inflicting the most damage onto themselves as church leaders by continuing to allow a problem we have talked about ad nauseam for decades.
What is this incredibly destructive issue?
Continuing to complain they don’t have enough personal time in the Word and prayer to adequately care for their personal spiritual needs AND properly fuel them in their service as a spiritual leader.
Let’s be VERY clear about this:
NOTHING is more important to a pastor — both personally and “professionally” — than their own communing with God. It is from their time and study in God’s Word, and their communing with God in prayer, that they serve from. If that time is inadequate, then responsibilities, expectations, and use of time MUST be reorganized to make this top priority reasonably attainable.
I know that is easier said than done, but regardless of what it takes to accomplish, it needs to be done. For some, just a little more self-discipline will fix this problem. Some are truly maxed out in their time; these ministers need to sit down with the elders of their church and discuss getting help and/or redistributing responsibilities so the pastor can have the time he needs in the Word and prayer. If church leaders and/or the congregation won’t support changes that are necessary, then a minister may need to consider leaving in order to serve somewhere that doesn’t demand spiritual service done from the flesh because a minister does not have the time needed in the Word and prayer to be able to serve as a spiritual leader.