As a professor at a seminary, I have the great privilege of training men for pastoral ministry. Every year new faces come in, full of excitement and trepidation as they start taking classes to prepare for pastoral ministry. What most of them don’t realize is how dangerous their calling truly is. According to some recent surveys, somewhere between 1,500–1,700 pastors leave the ministry each month. That means on average 50–57 pastors leave the ministry every single day. These studies go on to note several more disturbing statistics:
- 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 33% of pastors confess having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
- 90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 80% of pastors believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
- 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
And although this last statistic is not found in these studies, I know that it is true from the Bible:
- 100% of pastors have a dangerous enemy who is absolutely determined to destroy them and the people they lead
These statistics are sobering, and quite frankly frightening. So the question for us as brothers and sisters in Christ to help these men that God has called to lead us? How should we treat our elders?
I believe 1 Timothy 5:17-25 lays out four things we as God’s people must do:
- Provide for their needs (5:17-18)
- Protect their reputation (5:19)
- Pursue their repentance (5:20-21)
- Provide their reinforcements (5:22-25)