Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Think of the following occupations: florist, deep sea welder, fire fighter, taxi driver, minister (member of the clergy), police officer. If you were to list them from most to least dangerous to your health, and most risky in terms of people to whom one would sell life insurance, where would those occupations fit? In the "most dangerous" category — deep sea welder and minister — both just a bit behind crab fishermen.

I just about dropped off my chair when I read that.

But it comes from research done by a number of clergy, on clergy. The information I read began with one pastor following with some statistics from a member of his congregation who sold life insurance. Here are some "fun" numbers.

    * 48 percent of clergy think their work is hazardous to their family’s well being.
    * 80 percent of pastors say they don't have enough time with spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
    * Clergy have the 2nd highest divorce rate among professions.
    *46 percent will experience burnout or depression that will make them leave their jobs.
    *70 percent say their self-esteem is lower now than when they started their position.
    * 40 percent report a serious conflict with at least one parishioner every month.
    * 75 percent report they’ve had significant stress-related crisis on at least one occasion in their ministry.
    * 58 percent of pastors indicate that their spouse needs to work to supplement the family income.
    * 56 percent of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends.
    * Pastors working less than 50 hours per week are 35 percent more likely to be terminated.
    * 40 percent of pastors considered leaving the pastorate in the past three months.

In response to the statistics, I think of my own experience in ministry. A number of those statistics reflect my life as a church leader, including the "significant stress-related crisis on at least one occasion in their ministry." Which is why I'm on disability, and have been for five years. 

But, there is another side to this. I also spent almost 17 years serving a wonderful congregation of loving and interesting people.

(To be continued)


Snowbrush said...

Interesting stats.

Natalie said...

Yes, i can understand the burn out for sure. Why can't you post this stuff on your other blog? Was there a reason in particular?

Rob-bear said...

® Snowbrush: Thanks. Thought you might be interested.

® Natalie: Good question. Deserves a blog post, I think. Thanks.

willow said...

I served very faithfully in church for 25 years while we raised our family. In fact, looking back on that time, I would have to say we over did it on the church thing, because we most definitely suffered "burn out".

Thanks for your kind and generous comment at Willow Manor!

Which blog do you consider your main blog, Rob?

Rob-bear said...

® willow: Thanks for visiting. Actually, you've asked tomorrow's question at Chrome on the Range, which is my main blog. Perfect timing; wrong location. (Well, um, sort of . . . about the location.)

The Blog Fodder said...

Am passing this on to two friends in the Ministry. Not unexpected. Just sad.

Rob-bear said...

® Yes, BF — really sad.

Anonymous said...

Those statistics could apply to most any job. Only a minister doesn't have to worry about being burned to death like a firefighter does...unless the minister is really BAAAAAD...cuz there's always hellfire to worry about.lol

This reminds me of a post I should write concerning the hazards of being retired. (thanks for the idea)

Rob-bear said...

® Dana: Except this minister was also a fire fighter.

Brenda Susan said...

As anyone else who has served in ministry for years, I understand and agree with these statistics. I am working on a book for pastors wives and I have found that there really are very few occupations that require so much from a couple as the pastoring vocation.

It is not a 9 to 5 job for either mate and that wears on the relationship and whole family.

Rob-bear said...

® Brenda Susan: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope the book works out for you. It would be worthwhile!

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this post...as I grew up as a pastor's kid. I can say it totally messed with my head in that my father wasn't a good representative of Christ-like behavior. Took me many, many years of searching to find peace with God and life....still working on feeling peace with "men."

Anonymous said...

I tried to post a comment on your French blog, but it wasnt' working so I am posting it here!!!

La vie en appartement peut avoir ses avantages ~ J'espère que votre santé s'est améliorée depuis l'époque de ce post. Vous semblez être une telle personne type .... qui devrait avoir de nombreuses années de santé et bonheur!

Rob-bear said...

® Alice Lynn Alfred: Again you've been doing a lot of travelling to arrive here. Thanks.
I'm sorry for your experience. It is difficult for us to understand and model "Christ-like behaviour." I think I have tried to do that; I'm not sure whether I have done so.

A Lady's Life said...

Pastoring is indeed a difficult job.
You have to be a good listener and find time for yourself and family.
Knowing how to pace yourself is the trick.

Rob-bear said...

® A Lady's Life: Thanks for travelling this far, and for your observations.

Josh Hoyt said...

The stats are very interesting and saddening at the same time. I think that it would be similar to that of a psychologist in a different way.

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