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Plain and Simple for Sept. 28, 2013 / September 26, 2013
According to research done by George Barna, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Seminary, here are some startling statistics about pastors: fifteen hundred pastors leave their churches each month due to burnout, moral failure, or dissension; half of the marriages of pastors will end in divorce; eighty percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their work; fifty percent of pastors would leave the pastorate if they could find other work; eighty percent of seminary and bible school graduates will leave the pastorate within the first five years; and seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression. Now let me talk to you about becoming a pastor. After all October is Pastor Appreciation Month and you can jump on the bandwagon early.

I want to be clear that this column is not meant to be an extended bit of whining. There are lots of extremely difficult jobs out there. My parents worked in Dan River Mills and that was enough to help me understand that I was better at mental work than physical work. If I needed more proof, a couple of summers working in the tobacco fields around Danville did the trick.

No, I realize that there are great benefits to being a pastor. Most of the time, you do not have to toil hard physically—except when the church needs a quick cleanup and no one else is around. There are also rewards that you will never get in other professions. The bonding that comes when you are able to help someone in the most tender moments of life is unbelievable.

Still, there is a downside. I cannot speak for all other pastors but I know that I fight to keep my spirits up. I work hard to keep the bible constantly before the people and study diligently. It is deflating to think that your work is not appreciated. You see people willing to commit incredible amounts of time to sports or volunteer organizations but church always gets last place. If the parking is not perfect or if someone does not speak to them on Sunday then they are ready to leave the church. Why do they expect so much from the church when they put so little into it?

Then I feel guilty. I honestly want to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people. I know how lost people really are. Am I doing my job and making church attractive enough? Or am I guilty of trying to make it so attractive that I have watered down the gospel and that is why people will not commit? Or am I worrying too much? You can see how easily a pastor can work himself or herself into a funk. The point is that the pastorate is not for the faint of heart.

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