In his refreshing book, Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, Lance Witt collects several distressing statistics regarding pastors and their vocation:
1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America. 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles....Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living. Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families. 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner. 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.
There is a lot to be said about what these stats represent, and Witt does a wonderful job talking about the importance of restoring the pastor's soul and leading from the depths that can be created by God. But there is something more to be said. It is a frustration I have with the 'pastor as leader' model that has become a kind of talisman in the evangelical world over the past three decade.
Pastors are not CEO-style leaders. Yet they have been treated as such and expected to lead and produce results like captains of industry. My working theory is that one significant reason pastors have such an incredible failure and dropout rate right now is that they are pressured to be the kinds of things they are not by nature. Here is a nutshell version of how my theory works.
1. Our culture and our churches have almost completely lost a biblical definition of the role of pastor.
2. Our culture and our churches are enamored with the seemingly magical techniques of corporate management.
3. Because we lost the one and learned the other, we imposed corporate-style management on pastors.
4. That kind of leadership requires a certain kind of leader to make it "work" and most people called into the pastorate are not that kind of leader.
5. Hence, most pastors quickly become frustrated, depressed, and angry.
So, there it is. I hope over the next few days to tease out each assertion and make more sense of what we have done to pastors and the church and how, God willing, we can reverse course.