More than 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month.
This staggering number includes some of the brightest, most inspiring pastors in the country. To prevent the continued flight of our pastors, we need to understand the cause of the problem. Though every situation is unique, the reasons pastors leave are often similar.
Here are 10 common reasons pastors quit too soon.
Complaints speak louder than compliments. You can receive 15 compliments and one complaint, and the complaint will stick.
When you hear criticism and look out to see empty pews, it can be difficult to recognize the positive impact you’re making. The key is to remember: No matter how much negative you hear, you’re always doing 10 times more good.
Many pastors have difficulty recognizing success. They compare themselves to other pastors and other ministries. Comparisons produce only two outcomes:
(1) You think you’re better, which results in excessive pride,
or (2) you feel like you don’t measure up, which creates a sense of failure.
The key is not to compare, but to celebrate your successes.
With so many people looking to pastors for guidance, it can be difficult for pastors to let their guards down. They don’t want to come across as less than perfect. They feel they can’t be transparent and vulnerable. That creates a sense of isolation.
It’s important for pastors to find people they can open up and share their struggles with, instead of absorbing and isolating.
4. Moral Failure
The moral failures of pastors are magnified more than the average person. The key to avoiding moral failures is creating a system of risk prevention.
When you meet with someone of the opposite sex: Let your spouse know, never meet behind closed doors and do not discuss relationship issues. For pornography, software is available to monitor or block Web activity.
5. Financial Pressure
Most ministries are nonprofits, so pastors are not compensated well. When you can’t fully provide the life you want for your family, it makes it hard to continue. Then you look at friends not in the ministry with big houses and nice cars.
Pastors can relieve the pressure with better financial planning. Try following the 80-10-10 rule—10 percent to church, 10 percent to savings and 80 percent to live off.
When things aren’t going well, pastors become angry—with others, themselves or God. Thoughts fall along these lines: “I did everything you told me. I went to seminary. I started a ministry. Why are you not doing what you said?” The worst thing about anger is it spreads like wildfire.
The medicine for anger is forgiveness. We have to forgive so we can move forward.