Written by: Krista Redlinger-Grosse, PhD, Staff Associate at LeaderWise
My latest read is Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love. It is a light-hearted, but substantive read that discusses the challenges for women in day-to-day life and their faith. I write here, however, not about those topics (although I could go on and on). Rather, let me share a sample of statistics she quoted about the stress of ministry work that really stuck with me.
In a chapter entitled Dear Church, she quotes some striking numbers about church leaders from Bo Lane, Author of Why Pastors Quit:
- 90 percent of you work between fifty-five and seventy-five hours a week
- 70 percent of you fight depression
- 80 percent of you believe ministry as negatively affected your families
- 70 percent of you don’t have one close friend
- Only 10 percent of you will retire as a pastor
Taken from: Bo Lane, “Why Do So Many Pastors Leave the Ministry?” ExPastors.com, Accessed January 5, 2017 http://www.expastors.com/why-do-so-many-pastors-leave-the-ministry-the-facts-will-shock-you/
Whew. While we could get lost in these numbers (and I did for a bit) – pick apart the statistics and validity of the study sample – I had to stop and ask, what does this all mean? What is the bigger message? In thinking more, I came to the not-so-profound, but simple conclusion — ministry is hard, hard work.
I am admittedly new to this work at LeaderWise. In working with those entering and serving in the ministry, most striking to me is their selfless commitment to working and supporting others. Yet, as these statistics strikingly show, this vocation can take a toll. And while there are no fool-proof solutions, I am reminded of the importance of self-care.
Taking care of yourself, so you can take care of others. It is the ethic of self-care. In the words of Ellen Brown, “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot fill from an empty vessel.” In this coming year, take the much-needed step to sustain yourself in your work – whether in and outside of ministry. You are worth it.