The State of Pastors

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, ESV).

I believe the role and job of a pastor is very difficult.

Through the years many commented about my ministry—some positive and some negative—but rarely did anyone mention the difficulty of actually being a pastor.  

I understand other jobs are hard. Also, the body of Christ mostly goes to a pastor with the framework of getting help and not giving help. So, to me, it was gratifying and uplifting when the Barna Group (think top-notch Christian research) released a recent study entitled The State of Pastors, Volume 2. 

That’s correct. In 2017, they also conducted research on The State of Pastors, Volume 1. That’s two studies on the difficulty of being a pastor. 

I love the Barna Group.

A comment in their study explained their reason for studying and offering solutions for the difficulty of pastoral work in America. One of the authors wrote…

It is my belief, further confirmed by this project, that the Christian community in North America does not need stronger leaders; we need more resilient leaders. Resilient pastors develop the inner resources and supportive relationships that enable them to prioritize their own spiritual, emotional and physical needs; to view challenges realistically; to learn from their mistakes; to consider alternate perspectives and new processes; and to expect that God is at work even in adverse situations.

Well, “Amen!” to this thought!

I read Barna Group Study #1, which was conducted during the midst of COVID-19, and it was depressing to read that an increasing number of pastors were considering leaving the ministry. However, Study #2 shows improvement, with fewer pastors considering changing occupations.

As the report summarizes…

There is a sense that, collectively, we (pastors) are catching our breath after a difficult season. This moment might prompt fresh vision, deeper empathy, refined resources, and innovative strategies.

Well, “Amen!” to this thought too!

As I read this report, it affirmed what I’ve noticed about pastors today. 

The pastoral role is changing from iconic leader to more of a collaborator who leads but also has a nurturing life of family, friends, spiritual development, and even a vacation!!

We should pray for our pastors and also reinforce their need for spiritual and emotional development. We should allow them the freedom…to say “no” to our demands for help and find ways to encourage them.

As the report says… 

Pastors experience consistent friction to investing in and maintaining personal faith—and the support they receive is lagging.

The report adds a hopeful note on longevity in the pastorate…

The longer we’re in ministry the easier it is to say no to other things so that we can say yes to our own life with God.

Leadership today is increasingly complicated and can be under-appreciated. Let’s pray that God will call, faithful pastors will respond, and we will stand together as the body of Christ to support our pastors.

We must say “Amen!” to this too!

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