Back in 2007, I sat in a conference filled with ministry leaders, listening to a prominent pastor share some sobering statistics:
- In the U.S., 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role.
- 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could…but they have no other way of making a living.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- Almost 40% of pastors polled said they had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- 80% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband is overworked.
- Over half of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage was the day their husband entered the ministry.
Not long ago, that same pastor—the one who had warned us about pastoral burnout and moral failure—was removed from pastoral leadership. He had abused his pastoral authority, shut out any attempts to hold him accountable, and pursued inappropriate relationships with a couple different women.
I know this man loved Jesus in 2007, and that he loves Jesus today. And I know he sincerely believed what he told us in that conference. But that didn’t prevent him from becoming one of the statistics he dreaded.