More than 60 percent of pastors say stress is a challenge in their day-to-day ministry, according to a new Lifeway Research survey that also found that roughly half list “discouragement” as a common barrier.
The poll of 1,000 American Protestant pastors, released Tuesday, found that 63 percent of pastors say they battle stress and 48 percent face discouragement. Just over one in four (28 percent) say loneliness or lack of friendships is a problem, while about one in four (18 percent) say depression is an issue.
Younger pastors are more likely than older pastors to list stress, discouragement, loneliness and depression as issues.
“Americans have become much more aware of mental wellbeing, and young pastors have grown up in a culture with much greater transparency around these challenges than previous generations,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “The high number of young pastors wanting to address these mental challenges means although awareness is higher among them, many have not yet successfully embraced the boundaries, habits and preventative measures they need.”
The poll found that 25 percent of pastors ages 18-44 cite depression. Additionally, 37 percent of this age group say loneliness is a problem, while 78 percent list stress.
Meanwhile, 48 percent of all pastors say distractions are a common problem. Nearly one in four (17 percent) list “lack of contentment” as an issue.
“Being a pastor is stressful,” McConnell said. “It’s important for pastors to learn healthy ways of maintaining their mental health amidst the variety of pressures that continue to come their way. Ignoring stress is not the answer. Resilience requires investment.”
The CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources says pastors should not hesitate to reach out to professionals for help with mental issues.
“While the Word certainly calls us to lean on the Lord in times of trouble, Scripture also reminds us we are not an island,” said Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. “When the weight of feeling overwhelmed seems too much to bear, I encourage pastors to seek the help of trained professionals to help navigate mental challenges.”
Photo courtesy: Francisco Moreno/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.