Five Huge Stressors on Pastors: A Christmas Request


I love this time of year. I love celebrating the Savior’s birth, and I love getting together with family.

Still, I am aware that many people are struggling and hurting during the Christmas season. And, probably to the surprise of some of you, pastors are often among those who are struggling.

LifeWay Research recently conducted a survey to ask pastors where they feel the greatest stress. There were four stressors acknowledged by over half of the pastors, and one stressor noted by nearly half.

  1. 84% of pastors say they are on call 24 hours a day. Crises do not take a break, so pastors can’t either. Almost every pastor feels tension when the phone rings late at night.
  2. 80% of pastors expect conflict in their church. Conflict and criticism come with the role of pastor. It is to be expected. But that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful.
  3. 54% of pastors find the role frequently overwhelming. The key word here is “frequently.” Over half of the pastors feel this way.
  4. 53% of pastors are concerned about their financial security. It’s a shame a few pastors have given the vocation a bad name with their extravagant lifestyles. Most pastors are paid modestly. Over half of the pastors admit financial struggles.
  5. 48% of pastors often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle. Many church members expect pastors to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. In a church with an average attendance of 200, pastors are often expected to be at 15 or more meetings or events each week. It’s impossible to please everyone.

You probably won’t find your pastor complaining about these stressors. Most of them are selfless and serving individuals.

But may I be bold and request you give your pastor three gifts this Christmas? You won’t have to spend a dime to get these gifts, but they would mean so much to your pastor.

Tell your pastors you are praying for them.

Tell your pastors how much you appreciate them.

Tell your pastors one specific thing they have done this past year that meant a lot to you.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

And may your pastors have a joyous Christmas as well.

Posted on December 23, 2015

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Peggy Parker says on

    Pastor Gaddis,

    Thank you for your perseverance in studying, serving, and sharing God’s word.

    We continue to pray for God’s hand of protection and blessings be upon you, Janice, and your family.

    We love you all, very much.

  • You’re always encouraging us! Thanks Thom!

    Much love and Merry Christmas!


  • I am a layperson. My father-in-law farmed until age 45, then went to Bible school. He pastored 5 churches. I believe he handled the pressures of ministry very well, understood his flock and was certainly the finest man I ever knew. His exposure to God’s Word, his formal training and 25 years as a layperson uniquely prepared him to weather the storms of ministry. I wish more men would defer pastoral leadership to a time in mid-life – I know his congregations appreciated it. God’s richest blessings on your ministry.

  • Thank you for publishing the various stats throughout the year. Several times I/we have felt so alone in this journey of ministry and your articles have been timely in reminding us we are not alone. I echo a former post, it would be great if people knew and stepped up to be partners and supporters in ministry and not just being the fed ones. I think about the ministers and families struggling out there and wonder why in this season of helping others that those that help the most without thought of asking could use the help and are not getting the abundant blessings so needed for them and their families.

  • Matt Lawrence says on

    If you are a layperson in your church and become aware of a ministry need at the holidays, don’t call your pastor. Handle it yourself and e-mail your pastor to let him know about it and what you’ve done. He can still get involved if he thinks he needs to, but this can take some pressure off your pastor. Shows you care about his family also. A pastor’s family needs him too!

  • Thank you, Thom, for caring! My only concern is that it is most likely pastors (the hurting) who are reading this. Wish there was a way to get this message to congregations (the hurters).

  • Thank you brother. You hit the nail on the head. What a joyful yet stressful life and calling it is. Have a merry Christmas!

  • Thom,

    Thank you so much for this. As a pastor who has been in deep struggle and pain for over a year with my congregation, I have found your posts to be consistently helpful and a grace to me throughout this difficult season. You are doing a great service for the Kingdom.

    Christmas blessings!

    • Bob –

      I was driving when your comment posted. I have parked my car to respond to you, and to pray specifically for you and your ministry. It is my prayer you will know His love, protection, comfort, and blessings.

      • Evelyn Boesling says on

        It sounds like you were reading your post whilevyou were driving. You pulled over to reply, which was good, but reading is just as dangerous. Please pull over if you can’t wait or wait till you get somewhere. Thanks!

    • Pastor Bob, you are in my prayers

    • Brother Bob,
      As a small church (less than 50) pastor, I’m joining Thom and the others in praying for you. May God richly bless you with church members who are convicted to pray for their pastor (you) by name a minimum of 3-5 days per week.

      Love you, brother, and I don’t even know you! But, I know our Daddy!

      Prayers, and Holiday Greetings!

      Phillip Swindall

    • Bob, I’ve been through similar struggles myself in the last year, even to the point where I’ve considered quitting the ministry altogether. The call of God is the only thing that has kept me going. In the last couple of months, though, I’ve seen some signs of hope. I’ll certainly pray for you, and I hope you’ll do the same for me.