Burnout and Breakdown: Is Your Pastor at Risk?

In Barna’s most recent research on The State of Pastors, a comprehensive, whole-life assessment of U.S. pastors, commissioned by Pepperdine University, we examine how many pastors are at risk of burnout, relational breakdown or spiritual problems. While most pastors are doing just fine, no leader is immune to problems.

To understand the challenges to pastors’ well-being, researchers posed a series of questions to assess the risk of burnout, relational difficulties and spiritual setbacks. Questions included pastors’ self-assessment*of their emotional and mental health; their satisfaction with their vocation and confidence in their ability to minister effectively; the strength of their family and friend relationships; and how they feel about the spiritual dimension of their lives. Researchers then used pastors’ self-assessments to formulate risk metrics for burnout, relationship problems and spiritual issues. The items for each metric are shown below. Numerical values were assigned to all possible answers and, when responses were tallied, researchers found most pastors are doing well, ranking low on two of the three metrics. This under-scores one of the major findings of Barna’s The State of Pastors: Contrary to conventional wisdom, most pastors are faring well.

Burnout Risk:


Less confident in their calling today than when they began in ministry.

Rate mental and emotional health as average, below average or poor.

Seldom or ever energized by ministry work.

Frequently feel inadequate for their calling or ministry.

Frequently feel emotionally or mentally exhausted.

Have suffered from depression during their ministry.

Not satisfied with their pastoral vocation.

Not satisfied with their ministry at their current church.

Tenure at their current church has been a disappointment.

Tenure at their current church has not increased their passion for ministry.

Their primary day-to-day tasks do not fit their calling or gifts.


Relationship Risk:


Rate their relationship with their spouse as average, below average or poor.

Rather their relationship with their child as average, below average or poor.

Rather their relationship with their friends as average, below average or poor.

Frequently feels lonely or isolated from others.

Seldom or never supported by people close to them.

Say that it’s completely true that ministry has been hard on their family.

Report a difficult relationship with the church board or elders.


Spiritual Risk:


Rate their spiritual well-being as average, below average or poor.

Say that it is very difficult to invest in their own spiritual development.

Receive spiritual support from peers or a mentor several times a year or less. 

Say their tenure at their current church has not deepened their own relationship with Christ.

www.barna.org. Used by permission.

Also, read http://www.preachitteachit.org/articles/detail/how-to-love-and-support-your-spiritual-leaders/

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