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.
Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?
Why are so many pastors struggling today? In an earlier article I wrote on pastoral depression, I noted the following possible reasons:
The Enemy does not want God’s servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.