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Leadership

Pastor Burnout Statistics

You can easily find pastor burnout statistics all over the internet. Some are very overwhelming – like saying that 48% of pastors marriages end in divorce. I for one have my doubts about that one. As do I about quite a few numbers.

I wish they were all true – because then my job of convincing people that pastoral burnout is ravaging pastors would be easy. I tried to find the truth behind the pastor burnout statistics. I tried to find the original studies that produced the numbers. But in most cases I couldn’t find the source.

However, there are a lot of pastor burnout statistics that are reputable… and they are very troubling. Many of the numbers below come from H. B. London’s book, Pastors at Greater Risk.

Pastor Vacation Survey
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How Many Weeks of Vacation Do You Take Each Year?*

1 Week
2 Weeks
3 Weeks
4 Weeks

Pastor Burnout by the Numbers

According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010)

“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

 

  • 13% of active pastors are divorced.
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  • Those in ministry are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members.
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  • The clergy has the second highest divorce rate among all professions.
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  • 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
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  • 25% don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
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  • 25% of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict.
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  • 33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
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  • 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
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  • 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
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  • 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
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  • 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
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  • 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
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  • 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
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  • 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
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  • 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
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  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
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  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
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  • 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
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  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
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  • 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
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  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
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  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
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  • 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.
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  • Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.

Pastor Burnout Workbook

The hardest thing about these numbers is that the numbers only tell half the story. The other half is that congregations don’t know or understand the nature of pastoral stress. And when a pastor breaks down or has a moral failure, congregations, for lack of a better word, “kick the pastor to the curb.”

Whether you are a pastor, a former pastor, or a congregation member, I hope these clergy burnout statistics help clarify the problem. And more importantly, I hope they help you focus your ministry to pastors.

Pastor burnout statistics are only numbers. Read some pastor burnout stories to put faces to the statistics.

You might also find helpful my page on clergy burnout statistics.

http://www.pastorburnout.com/pastor-burnout-statistics.html

 

Discussion

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  1. […] Statistics show that clergy has the second highest divorce rate among professionals. In addition, 25% of wives see their spouses schedule a source of conflict. Pastors often place ministry before family, which in time, may have adverse affects on the family. Finally, 45% of Pastors suffers from depression. […]

    Posted by Pastor burnout a growing concern | Deb's Place | July 14, 2014, 2:06 pm
  2. […] things don’t get done and/or the leader gets overworked, and perhaps even burns out. This quote from the New York Times is based on several studies: “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and […]

    Posted by Christian leadership « the Way? | November 25, 2011, 4:00 pm
  3. […] the US. It is very, very distressing. I understand completely what the statistics reflect. Pastor Burnout Statistics http://snipurl.com/39yx0 I find that I feel beyond burnout. In fact, I am now […]

    Posted by 36 years of serving God in the local church « disciple David | July 14, 2011, 5:44 am
  4. […] The church I serve was organized in the ’50′s and ’60′s in a middle class, upper middle class, upper class neighborhood, and like many churches of that era, it’s ethos was to confirm the hoped for reality of success, modernity, responsibility, and keeping the lid on life. Ironically, each of my predecessors (or at least 4 of the 5, not sure about the first one), had serious issues and conflicts as the pastor here and each had a difficult if not ending of life experience at the end of their tenure (one died of a heart attack at age 62 after a 23 year tenure after 4 attempts to remove him with the last one within the year before his death being a 2 hour, one by one voting process where each member went to a box on the altar to place their ballot on whether he should stay or not.) I was in touch with 3 of them within my 1st year here (16 yrs tenure to date) and each breathed angry fire about their recollections of serving this church and one refused to go into detail because to write about it was too painful. Apparently this recent article on pastor burnout is not new… http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/27347.htm […]

    Posted by the security of the dark – life today through the dark night of the soul « disciple David | June 20, 2011, 10:57 pm