Rev. Benson went on to say:
Stats On Pastors From Fuller Institute:
90% work more than 46 hours per week...a high percentage works more than 60 hours per week.
90% felt they were inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands.
75% reported a significant stress-related crisis at least once a month.
40% reported a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
70% say they have a lower self-image than when they began in ministry.
50% felt unable to meet the needs of the job.
There is no way that this can be healthy. But why are things this way? I've heard some say it is the pastor's fault. I think you need to take another look at the stats. Are some pastor just loners? Sure they are. You have loners in every crowd. But these numbers are way to high for that. Now get this. This study was done in 1991. I can tell you it isn't any better. According to a 1998 study done by Focus on the Family and estimated 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention within local congregations.
Now I cannot get my hands on either study in their entirety. So who are the other pastors who don't fall into these categories and what are they doing to get there? I don't know. So what can we do?
#1 - Make sure that the pastor isn't suffering from deep depression. Depression is the common cold of mental illness. Everyone gets depressed - so cut the pastor some slack if they are having a tough day. But long continuous depression that effects their personality and ministry needs to be addressed.
#2 - Protect the pastor from those who would hurt them. Pastors have always been told to have the hide of a rhino. This helps, but make them unapproachable to some and jaded to others. If Pastors are going to be relevant to the people whom they lead, their vulnerability is going to show and someone is going to try to take advantage of it.
#3 - Help your pastor keep up. When I graduated Bible College with a BA in Bible and Theology, that was enough to go into the ministry with. Now I need a MA in order to go to the next level. Recently I read an article about our children's (mine is 4 years old) educational future. It made it clear that in order for them to make in their world of employment, they will need a masters degree.
#4 - Be their friend. Now if you get to be a pastors close friend let me make this clear. You treat that relationship as an honor from God, one that you will be held accountable for in the long run. I have seen friends ruin a pastors career, their families and their marriage because they were sloppy with their agape. In my personal opinion, that's why pastors don't have close friends, they can't risk it.
#5 - Throw water on fires, not gasoline. Don't send every problem that the church has to the pastor every time. If you can handle it and the pastor doesn't have a problem with you handling it - "Just Do It!" You can let the pastor know what you did so they are not caught off guard, if it is that important.
#6 - Be Kind, Rewind. Remember the days of VHS when we were encouraged to do the right thing and rewind the tape before we returned it to the video store? (Thank God for DVD's) Do the right thing by your pastor and his family. Mistakes are to be forgiven under the law of God's love. An extra effort to show ones appreciation for a pastor or a member of their family goes a long ways.
#7 - Don't let stupid ideas touch the pastor. Now let me set the stage here so you can understand this one. Years ago I was pastoring a church that was in big trouble. We were able to get it stabilized and growing within the year. The church was actually making some money and doing well. At my annual review the board met to review my salary package. After a week of grueling meetings the treasurer met with me and said, "This is what the board has decided. We are turning you down for a $25 a week raise because we don't want our pastor driving around in a Rolls Royce." That was stupid. Don't let stupid ideas touch the pastor.
Ok, there is my two cents. Have at it, what do you think?