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Is Pastoring A High Burnout Profession?

Docpotter's Reply:

Pastoring is a high stress profession, with low pay. However, as long as the pastor feels empowered, that he or she can accomplish good, burnout is not a threat. The pastor may be getting sick from too much stress, but enthusiasm will remain high. But should the pastor lose hope and develop a "why bother?" attitude, then burnout is a real danger.

Here's the result of a study using The Burnout Potential Inventory with pastors, conducted by a graduate student preparing to become a pastor.

Results of a survey of Pastors in the Southern New Brunswick Canada area. I sent the survey to approximately 70 pastors in the Saint John NB, Canada area. Of the 70 - approximately 35 responded. Of those, about 50% had scores of 100-200 on the Potter Burnout Potential Inventory (which I felt would be a fairly accute response, since I work in a stressful job and scored about 50). These responses do not indicate the status of the pastors in the area. Only a very low percentage have any physical signs of burnout (I know many of these pastors either first-hand or have family/friends who attend their churches).

The only other component of a profession such as Pastoring, etc, is the personal support network. I have come to an understanding that many of the pastors who may have had extremely high responses may be loving every minute of their job in spite of the harsh realities they face every day. This is possible because of the support they feel from spouses and others close to them as well as the personal sense of mission they feel for God whom they serve.

To some, this measurement of physical reality was a waste of time for ministers, since they personally did not base their feelings on their physical surroundings, as do most professionals. I personally feel there is a danger in ignoring circumstances, unless a strong sense of direction is felt (and then be aware of the circumstances).

Pastoring is an extremely stressful 7x24hr job. Yet these pastors continue to do the work they feel so strongly about, often with subsistence-level salaries. I have deep concerns that there are a lot of burnout cases caused by OVERLOAD, POWERLESSNESS, and some of the other categories you have so well defined.

I am a Pastoral Ministry Student in a course on Pastoral Counseling. Thank you for your help. In Christ,

Vince Robertson
Student-Bethany Bible College

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