Not all the news about pastors is discouraging, but there is a secret pain of pastors that we need to address.
Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else.
But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.
LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.
Secret Pain of Pastors: Discouragement Factor
One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. More than one-half (55 percent) of pastors are presently discouraged.
I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find almost all of them experience deep discouragement.
Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:
- There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
- There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
- There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
- There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.
Secret Pain of Pastors: The Loneliness Factor
Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times.
When we conducted our survey, more than one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55 percent, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time.
Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:
- There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
- Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
- The larger the church, the greater the likelihood the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
- The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.