Why Your Pastor Is Tempted To Quit – And What To Do About It

Being willing to help is nice, but stepping in without being asked is even better. Use these practical tips to lighten your pastor's load.


Hopefully, that word conjures up mostly good memories and respect for you. But through all of their healing, restoring, and guiding work, pastors can live with a lot of secret pain.

According to a survey by the New York Times in 2010:

  • 1,500 pastors per month leave the ministry due to burnout, conflict or moral failure
  • 45% of pastors say they’ve struggled with burnout or depression
  • 57% report that they would leave ministry if they thought there was somewhere else to go
  • 75% report severe stress
  • 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse
  • 33% say that being in ministry is a hazard to their families

Does anyone think this has gotten better in the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic? Not likely. In fact, most people think it intensified.

You might think, “not my pastor.” No, I hope not. But some pastor friends of mine have reached these points.

I recently surveyed pastors across several denominations and asked them what was most frustrating in their ministry. I gave them multiple options to choose from, as well as the ability to write their own answers. Here’s what they told me about their greatest challenges:

What’s toughest about your job?

  • Family and work balance (42%)
  • Getting people to volunteer (42%)
  • Time for meaningful prayer (42%)
  • Dealing with people stresses and conflict (39%)
  • Following up on people and losing guests (36%)
  • Outreach planning (28%)
  • Personal time management (25%)

Odds are, your pastor struggles with four or five of these. I want you to look at the common thread in the seven. Do you see it?


That one factor ties it all together.

Pastoring today is different than it was for your grandpa’s pastor.

In those days, people led lives with more margin, less TV, smaller houses, only one car, and fewer options. Pastors had a privileged position in the community. They weren’t expected to be CEOs, doing executive work in a complicated world. They’d love to preach, connect with people, and give new believers an invitation to discipleship.

But today, they find themselves stuck in the whirlwind.

Pastors now have more to administrate than ever, and they’re often overwhelmed and frustrated. There’s a lot of “shadow work” that drains time and creative energy.

Here’s the biggest thing you could do if you want to help your pastor:

Ask if you can carry some part of the load.

How Not To Help Out

Here’s the way people usually do it — which is the wrong way: “Pastor, let me know if I can help you with anything.”

That’s incredibly vague. And probably frustrating to your pastor because it requires your pastor to do all the work of:

  • Finding the work that needs to be done
  • Thinking of all the people who have said they would help
  • Deciding who would be best at it
  • Overcoming the fear that you’re too busy and were just being nice
  • Contacting you and trying to schedule a time to get together
  • Waiting for you to have the time to do it
  • Then do it again every time there’s a new project!

Honestly, it’s emotionally easier to keep doing it alone. So that’s what most pastors do.

The people who are the biggest blessing to their pastor aren’t the ones who say “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” it’s the person who finds something to do and does it well, week after week.

What To Do Instead

  1. Ask your pastor, “do you mind if I took over (name the task) and made it so good you’d never have to think about it again?”
  2. If there’s any hesitation, ask “or Is there something else I could lift off your plate? Something that drains your energy?”
  3. Ask “could I buy your coffee and let’s make a list of what you’d like to get done in that area?”
  4. Meet for coffee, ask questions, and take notes.
  5. Do the task again next week.
  6. Go out for coffee again and ask for feedback how you could improve.
  7. Then crush that task every week after that.

Your pastor will literally feel the lift from Day One, just from knowing someone else is on the team. By the time you reach step #7, your pastor would swim a river full of crocodiles for you.

Now, what are you waiting for? Share this article with your pastor, and offer to buy lunch or coffee.

Do it now. 🙂

(Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey | Flickr)


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