How to Support Your Pastor

Healthy pastors help make healthy churches

Brian Tubbs

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Image by VitalikRadko via DepositPhotos.com

Being a pastor is no longer good for one’s health. And many have left the ministry due to a lack of support from those they served.

Even The New York Times weighed in on this crisis:

Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could. (Vitello, Paul. “Taking a Break From The Lord’s Work,” The New York Times, August 1, 2010)

Congregations need to pay attention to this problem since emotionally strained and spiritually unhealthy pastors are not good for the body of Christ.

And it’s not enough for congregations to put the onus on the pastors to simply “be healthy,” “get rest,” and “trust in the Lord.” Church members themselves need to actively and consistently love, encourage, and support their pastors.

Before we get any further, let me acknowledge two things:

First, the crisis of pastor health has sometimes been overstated.

In a 2018 article for The Christian Century titled Your pastor isn’t as unhealthy as you might think,” Amy Frykholm points out that many of the most “alarming statistics” are “almost certainly inaccurate” and “aren’t backed up by any reputable study.”

Most pastors are mentally sound and emotionally healthy — at least as much as any other occupation group. Nevertheless, even Frykholm acknowledges there are some concerns.

For my own part, I would say that a pastor's health often depends on the health of the church that the pastor serves. And for some pastor-church relationships, “crisis” is the correct word for the problem.

Second, there are admittedly some bad pastors out there.

Some pastors are outright corrupt and abusive. Others are incompetent or…

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