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)