Thursday, October 26, 2023

Addressing Clergy Mental Health


"Mental health includes emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social well-being. It affects how we think and feel, and how we experience the experience of our lives. It is a major factor in our capacity to experience joy in life, work, and relationships. Our mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Challenges to the mental health of clergy commonly involve stress and burnout, marriage and family adjustment, and emotional and functional impairment.

Work-related stress and burnout among clergy have been the focus of many studies.

Some research suggests that burnout results from systemic factors including bureaucracy, poor administrative support, and difficult work conditions—ministry is hard, and getting harder. Other intrapersonal-related factors include religious idealism, Type-A personality factors, narcissism, and perfectionism.(4)

In addition, one research found that clergy experience excessive guilt and issues with their families of origin more frequently than other groups.(5)

As a group, pastors also experience social isolation, often extending even to their professional peers.

One study revealed that ministers have higher levels of occupational distress and depression when compared to national averages."

Read the entire article from Columbia Theological Seminary here.

The above article was written by Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. 

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Pastors Share Top Reasons They’ve Considered Quitting Ministry in the Past Year


Stress, Isolation & Political Division Factor into Pastors’ Desire to Quit

"As of March 2022, the percentage of pastors who have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year sits at 42 percent. This is consistent with data from fall 2021 when Barna first reported on a sharp increase in pastoral burnout, and it confirms the growing number of pastors who are considering resignation—up 13 percentage points from 29 percent in January 2021.

What reasons do pastors give when asked why they’ve thought about stepping down for good? Stress, loneliness and political division are the three items that rise to the surface.

Over half of pastors who have considered quitting full-time ministry (56%) say 'the immense stress of the job' has factored into their thoughts on leaving. Beyond these general stressors, two in five pastors (43%) say 'I feel lonely and isolated,' while 38 percent name 'current political divisions' as reasons they’ve considered stepping away."

Read the entire article by Barna Research here.

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What I Wish I’d Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry


"What follows has been adapted from a brief talk I delivered to the Oklahoma chapter of The Gospel Coalition. Here are 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started out as a pastor.

1.     I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.

2.     I wish I’d known about the inevitable frustration that comes when you put your trust in what you think are good reasons why people should remain loyal to your ministry and present in your church. I wish I’d been prepared for the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment that came when people in whom I’d personally invested so much love, time, and energy simply walked away, often with the most insubstantial and flimsiest of excuses.

3.     I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them."

Read the entire article by Sam Storms here at The Gospel Coalition.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor


Pastoring a church is not an easy job. Here are 10 ways you can encourage your pastor (or pastors):


It’s not easy to preach every week. It’s not easy to carry the burden of ministry every day. A pastor rarely hears “thank you.” A good pastor isn’t in the ministry for a thank you from the congregation. They are not after man’s approval but work for God’s approval (Gal. 1:10). They shepherd as one who will give account to God (Heb. 13:17). But a thank you can go a long way. Pastors, like nearly everyone, are severely under-encouraged. My guess is you appreciate the work he does. Tell him so.

One practical way: Write him a letter. Emails usually include a criticism. Handwritten letters nearly always include encouragement. Letters also have a way of sticking around for a while. Emails get buried quickly. Letters are sweet reminders on the desktop after a long, hard day of ministry.


A general “thank you” is more than what many pastors hear week after week, but a specific thank you is life-giving. Find one phrase or thought or action and thank him. Specificity implies gratefulness. If a phrase from his sermon last week stuck with you, let him know. Lots of pastors hear very little specific feedback on their sermon. Imagine spending hours each week to prepare something and never know how it lands on the people you’re speaking to.

Read the entire article by David McClemore here at The Baptist Courier here.

Image used by permission from Adobe Stock

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Why Honor My Pastor?

The following article, written in 2014, has been one of my most-viewed posts through the years.

Dick Lincoln once said, "Church at its best is as good as it gets, and church at its worst is as bad as it gets."  No one understands this reality more than pastors and their families.

Every October I consider writing a post about Pastor Appreciation Month.  However, being a pastor, it seems awkward.  John MacArthur said it well when teaching his church about honoring pastor-elders, "I feel a little bit awkward up here telling you that you need to honor elders of which I am one. Obviously I could be accused of a conflict of interests and I could also be accused of having a self-serving motive. So I want to put in an immediate disclaimer on any of those things. I'm trying to teach you the Word of God."

I will bite the bullet this year and write a post with the hope of eventually providing encouragement to some man of God out there serving his church.  Hopefully, persons from other congregations will read it and the article will spur them on toward love and good deeds toward their pastors.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Pastoral Policy on Cohabitation


The social trend of cohabitation before - or instead of - marriage is a growing trend in North America. I reached out to an older pastor friend of mine whom I respect to ask how he responds to cohabiting couples in his congregations. The following is his response:

The policy that I have used and what I each that I am asked this question is:

1. I share the biblical truths on marriage and sexual purity with the couple in a private session with them both present. 


2. I don’t ask for a response from the couple in that session but ask them to study the scriptures that reviewed in that session and to spend a week in prayer but privately and together seeking God as to His will for marriage 


3.  I meet with them for a second time to discuss what decision they have made based upon their time praying, studying the scriptures and discussions. 


4. If they agree to marry I then move into that discussion 

5. If they don’t agree to marry then I share that they are welcome to participate in the life of the church and worship but that they cannot join as members. 

Listen to Cohabitation: Good or Bad with Glenn Stanton

Hear Talking to Couples Who Are Living Together with Kevin Carson

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