Five Terrible Reasons to Enter Vocational Ministry

June 26, 2017

I’ve seen too many people in vocational ministry fail to launch.

Perhaps “launch” is not the best term, because they may stay in ministry for many years. But they never seem to do well. They never seem to have a peace. They seem like they are always trying to prove something.

I recently went through my old seminary pictorial directory. I was able to locate 47 people I knew in seminary who I know where they are today. Of that 47, only eight remained in ministry. If you are doing the math, that is an 83 percent dropout rate.

Vocational ministry is a calling. It is not just another vocation. If you enter ministry for the wrong reasons, you will not likely do well. Indeed, you will not likely make it.

What are some of the terrible reasons to enter vocational ministry? Here are five of the most common failures:

  1. Escape from a secular job. I know a man who has a huge desire to work fulltime in ministry for a church. But the only reason he ever articulates is his hatred of his middle management secular job. He sees ministry vocation only as an escape from the problems of corporate work. I hope his heart changes before he makes the leap.
  2. Fulfilling family expectations. About one-third of my peers who dropped out of ministry came from families in vocational ministry. Don’t hear me wrongly. It is admirable to see multiple generations in ministry for the right reasons. But too many in ministry feel compelled to enter that world because of family pressure. One peer of mine told me, “Dad called me into ministry, not God.”
  3. When your spouse is not supportive. Vocational ministry is demanding and can be exhausting. If ministers do not have the support of their spouses, their lives will be miserable from the point of entering vocational ministry. For those of you who have supportive spouses in ministry like me, count your blessings.
  4. Not theologically prepared. I recently heard a man preach a sermon that had, sadly, several biblical and theological errors. Those errors did not go unnoticed by many members in the congregation. The role of teaching and preaching in ministry is not to be held lightly. Do not enter ministry theologically unprepared.
  5. Skewed views of the demands of ministry. I was in a conversation with a 30-something pastor who came into ministry from the secular world. His conversation went something like this: “I had this idea that I would have all this free time and short work weeks. Ministry seemed like a piece of cake compared to the world I was coming from. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is unbelievably demanding. I am on call 24-hours a day whether I admit it or not.”

For those who enter vocational ministry for the right reasons, the work can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. For those who don’t, the frustration will seem unbearable, and the failure rate is high.

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46 Comments

  • #6. “God told me to become a pastor.”

    Shame on those who use the “God card” like this!

  • With regard to #1 I think many people enter the ministry in order to escape secularity. They want to serve God and entering the ministry simply looks like the most appealing and desirable option. But they are looking at what THEY want to do, rather than at what God wants them to do. They don’t look at the ministry as an escape route, but as their dream job. But that isn’t really a good enough reason. From about the age of 20 I longed to enter the ministry (initially I wanted to be a missionary until I realised that there was actually a greater need for sound teaching in my own country). I had ten long and painful years of trying doors and having them all closed in my face, before I could finally begin to reconcile myself to the fact that perhaps God may never use me to serve Him in this capacity. And in the last three years (I am now 33) I can easily recognise and acknowledge that I am not gifted and qualified to be a preacher.

    As I view things, I think the big problem lies in the way the churches recruit pastors. The ministry seems to largely consist of hirelings. The training of pastors is now left to the theological colleges. It is no longer the pastors themselves who train up the next generation of leaders for their church. Ideally churches should be self-sustaining. The future leaders of a church should be raised up from among its own ranks – they will know and understand and love the church the better than most hired-in pastors could ever hope to do. But often the youth are given no special teaching, they are given no opportunity to test their gifts, no training to develop their abilities. If any individuals express any interest in the ministry they are sent off to Bible college and then seek employment elsewhere. I think it was Calvin that said that a church should raise up enough people to sustain its own ministry, plus more who could be sent out to other places. But this generally isn’t happening.

    It seems like most pastors intend to retired. They don’t intend to die in the harness (unless they happen to die before the age of 65). But as they approach retirement age, they take no pains to seek out and train up their successor. They retire regardless of whether or not their church has any prospect of finding another pastor, and they move away, leaving the flock to fend for itself.

    It is often only in the interim that ordinary members of the congregation get the opportunity to test their abilities and to serve the church in new ways, but as soon as the new pastor is hired he takes over all the work and the people are sent back to their pews to sit passively and listen. The pastors don’t utilise the gifts that their church members have because they don’t take the pains to find out their gifts. They take work upon themselves which could be delegated to others.

    It is generally left to the individuals to put themselves forward as candidates for the ministry, and therefore it is often only the most confident or arrogant who actually end up in the role (sorry to everyone I’ve just insulted!). I’ve seen peers end up in the ministry who seemed far from fit for it. Yet the humble and self-effacing people who are sound in doctrine, well-studied, and have a deeper appreciation of the seriousness of the pastoral responsibility, feel unworthy of the role, unqualified for the task. It should not be for individuals to put themselves forward for the ministry, but for the pastors and church members to look around among themselves and recognise people’s gifts and bring forward those who they observe to be worthy of the honour and capable of the requirements of the role.

    People should end up in the ministry, not because that is what they WANT to do, but because God has gifted them for it and they meet the Biblical criteria for it, and are convicted from the Bible that that is what they OUGHT to do.

  • Vincent–sounds like your friend is the victim of a clerical error. It happens. If the position has been filled it is water under the bridge. If not, he might want to follow up and correct the misunderstanding.

    I do know a couple of years ago of a small rural church that posted an opening for a half time pastor. I believe they received around 1500 resumes. 1500.

    You can imagine how that stressed out 3 people sorting through them, volunteers all with lives and jobs outside the church. While it certainly would have been nice to contact all that applied, it would have been overwhelming. Not all provided an e mail, so the cost alone would have sunk their budget had each applicant received a letter back. I think they did attempt phone calls on personal cells to keep the costs down.

    I’ve heard rumors–and they are only that!– that in many denominations far more folks are preparing for vocational ministry than there are job openings.

    Could that be part of the frustration and delay you face?

    • Yes, Linda, that very well may the case. But I also notice a discouraging trend (my friend I mentioned also notices the same) in that there seems to be age discrimination in play. I have had places that seem interested in me who have contacted me with a request that I provide my date of birth “for statistical purposes only”. Whenever I provide them with it, I’m rejected within minutes or hours. Age discrimination is illegal, but I have had many places ask for a date of birth weeks or months after sending my initial application. One place asked for my date of birth, height, and weight (“For statistical purposes only”) months after I applied. I received a rejection email later that day. My friend has encountered the same thing several times in the past year. It appears that anyone over the age of 50 (or early 50’s) is almost automatically rejected as soon as you provide that information. It seems odd that so many places are interested in the age of the person applying and we are told it is only for “statistical purposes”. Then comes a rejection. Coincidence, or blatant age discrimination ? One does not expect that in Christian ministry. I believe many places and search committees are not fully truthful when it comes to asking someone’s age in the name of reporting “statistics”. Who is compiling these statistics, and what is their purpose ? And why is it that a rejection occurs 100% of the time after providing the information ? I think the odds of it just being a coincidence are pretty slim. Anyway, thank you, Linda. Blessings.

      • I’m sad to say it, but you’re correct: many churches are not interested in a pastor over 50 (I just turned 50, so I agree that’s not an encouraging trend). I was talking to my wife about it just yesterday. When I was a seminary student, all of the church growth emphasis was on Baby Boomers. Somewhere along the line, the emphasis switched to Millennials. Those of us in between were passed over. They call us “Generation X”. I think they ought to call us “Generation Chopped Liver” or “Generation Stepchild”. That’s how most of society – even in churches – seems to see us.

      • Hannah Priscilla says on

        Are you a Pastor? May I ask? I’m not in vocational ministry, though I DO expect my Pastor’s to have a basic understanding of scripture and to have as a bare minimum FAITH and a relationship with Jesus.

        I would, personally, prefer a Pastor over 50 to be honest. I attend a megachurch where the Pastors are in their thirties-forties and are sorely in need of mature Apostles. HOWEVER, I would NOT tolerate a Pastor who came online and bemoaned discrimination and acted as though the God I was expecting him to teach me about died or missed his birth certificate. I wouldn’t return to a church where medical doctors acted entitled to jobs and responded to interim solutions to their problems by insinuating that they knew better than everyone and should supervise internal employment processes. I would expect my Starbucks-loving, skinny-jeans wearing Pastors to continue to remind me that Joseph was sold into slavery and then jailed over a false accusation and then forgotten in a jail for more than two years. Despite a call on his life. And then to try and convince me to buy fair-trade coffee, hahaha, and recall that the Apostle Paul spent 14 years in between his conversion and his first missionary journey. A bummer, no doubt, after such a miraculous encounter with Jesus; but no less the reality. I would also hope that my church with TOO LOUD music would recall Abraham, Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth and Caleb and Joshua who wandered needlessly around in a desert for 40 years, or David who waited 20 years before his ACTUAL calling came to pass, or Moses who lived on the back side of the desert…

        Honestly, character matters in ministry. Character includes how Ministers handle offence. How they accept counsel. How they speak of others in the body of Christ.

        It isn’t age or profession or background experience or discrimination that is working against Vincent. It’s character. It really is simply a matter of the fact that he doesn’t have the character to be in full-time ministry.

      • P.S. to Vincent: Lest I sound like too much of a downer, I still believe if God has called you, He has a place for you somewhere. Hang in there. God will open a door eventually.

      • Vincent says on

        Thank you, Ken. Appreciate your confirmation of what I’m experiencing, and your encouragement. Blessings.

  • Dixon Murrah says on

    one of the main reasons that I have found is that ministry is so stressful. Another is that ministers are not taught why churches do what they do. Another main one is they have not been taught how to handle their emotion in a healthy Biblical manner.

  • Vincent–keep on keeping on. But do cut the churches you have applied to serve in some slack concerning not responding to you. These days you may have a small committee of 3 or 4 sifting through literally thousands of applications and resumes. That is also happening in the secular job market. It really would be nice to be contacted back, but mostly it won’t happen unless they ARE considering you. Wish I had better news, but it is what it is.

    It doesn’t sound from your post like the following is the case with you, but from time to time an individual is absolutely sure God has called them to serve in vocational ministry and for whatever reason, his or her brothers and sisters in Christ disagree. Be open to the idea.

    But I have to say, having always lived rural where BOTH medical service AND clergy were in very short supply, you sound like the ideal mix. Our town currently has one physician who is also a pastor. I grew up blessed by a physician who served as deacon, SS teacher, grounds committee head, or wherever needed.

    Assuming you are in the USA maybe you could get out the maps prayerfully and find where there is a need for your medical skills AND for a church and plant one? Won’t likely be lucrative but oh how badly needed you just might be!

    • Vincent says on

      Thank you, Linda. Appreciate your thoughts and support. Yes, I do live in the U.S. and have applied for 40-50 ministry jobs in the past year. I can count on one hand the number of places that actually sent a personal or generic rejection email. You hear absolutely nothing from the great majority of churches. I fully understand that a search committee may get hundreds of applications for a single position. Here is one of my favorite stories (I have a few similar ones of my own) – a friend of mine, a very Godly man, and quite active in leadership positions (volunteer) at his church, has likewise felt a strong calling from God. He decided to make a career change, return to school and other ministry training, and pursue vocational ministry (with his wife in full agreement of the call and this plan). For the past 20 years he was the director of a residential program for those with special needs. Under his leadership, his organization received very high marks from state and private agencies for quality of care. He applied for a Minister of Care position at a large church. The job posting indicated the applicant must have experience working with people with special needs. He completed his application, and even mentioned his work with special needs patients in his cover letter. He heard nothing for several months. He then received a rejection email from the church stating that his application contained “no documentation of any experience working with people with special needs” !! So it does make one wonder if search committees actually read all the applications and cover letters, and how the internal process really works. I truly feel that my friend would be the perfect candidate for such a job in the service of our Lord. Thank you again, Linda, for your time and thoughts on this subject.

      • Vincent, I feel your pain. I was in the exact place you are a few years ago. My background is medical. I worked in radiology for over a decade. When God called me into ministry, I went back to school and got another master’s (MDiv), began preaching all over the place, and started sending résumés. Then….. Nothing. When I finally accepted a call to pastor a church, I had sent 327 résumés. I know the exact number because I have a single file on my desktop with every church I applied to. My wife calls it my spite file. I don’t know about it being spiteful but every now and then when I’m feeling burnt or just having a bad day, I’ll look through that file of all the churches that didn’t even bother to send me a “no thanks” letter and I get back to work for my people. Long story short, don’t get discouraged. If God has truly called you then He will place you when He is good and ready. Then, use every single moment to be the best pastor you can be for those people who put their faith and trust in you.

      • Vincent says on

        Thank you, Josh. Appreciate you sharing your story and for the encouragement.

      • jonathon says on

        > I had sent 327 résumés.

        Or roughly the number of résumés that a typical organization receives for a single advertised job opening.

        Unless one is completely bypassing HR/selection committees, between five and ten percent of applications result in an interview, with between five and ten percent of interviews resulting in a job offer.

        The rise in organizations using software to screen applicants further ensures that one does not get to the point of having a first interview. If the resume lacks the specific keywords, the applicant gets an automatic rejection.

        By way of example, if you are a medical doctor, and list your CM, you won’t be hired, even though that is arguably a better qualification than either DO or MD.
        Where this automation really hurts the organization, is when either an NP or PA will be suitable, but the software defines “medical doctor” as the appropriate keyword.

        The other trend that has a negative impact on applicants, is the automatic rejection of the first hundred or so applications,using them as a baseline. The first candidate in the hiring set that meets 80% of all criteria established by the initial set, gets hired. IOW, even if your best applicant is in the first hundred/initial set, they have zero chance of being hired.

  • Sandra Marshall says on

    I am not in ministry because I do not feel worthy. I feel I make too many errors of judgment along the way. I am called by God to do the best I can. I sometimes do not see the opportunity right in front of my face but I minister with the love, compassion, empathy, faith at every point I see I can be of help, encouragement, hope, faith and love. I love the Lord my God with all my being, and thank God for all his blessings for snatching me from the fire on more than one occasion and bringing me back to his love. I do not wish to do anything more than his will. I would find it a great humbling and life affirming responsibility to be a minister of a church in whatever way I was called. I would feel, as a disciple of Christ I was coming home. I am called to witness and live the way Christ lived we all are. We all, as Christians, are called to serve. God bless everyone in the USA.

  • Frankly, I don’t understand those who think ministry is just a “career choice” instead of a calling. I’ve been a pastor 22 years, and on many occasions the call of God has been the only thing that’s enabled me to keep going.

    • I agree with you that ministry is a calling, but all Christians have a calling. Whatever career someone is in, it should be a calling from God. My point is that a relatively small number of people are called to vocational ministry, but that doesn’t mean other callings are not just as important. Pastors shouldn’t become “puffed up” or think their calling is more important than anyone else.

      I am not called to be a pastor, but we are all called to ministry. Plus, I would make a really bad pastor.

      • I completely agree that all Christians have a calling, but that wasn’t my point. My point is, I don’t think you can make it in vocational ministry unless you have a sense of calling. That may be true in other vocations as well, but it’s definitely true in ministry.

  • Vincent Mobilio says on

    Thank you for this most interesting blog! I have been reviewing posts in the achieves. I’m sure this has been covered in previous posts, and this may not be the time or place for my comments, but how about those of us who truly feel called by God for vocational ministry or chaplaincy work, but receive no replies after applying to positions around the country. Online job applications (frequently containing essay questions that must be completed) are submitted and then go into a black hole somewhere in the universe. Most places never respond back in any way. A few will send a generic “thanks, but no thanks” type of email. Any a very few, perhaps 1-2%, might actually send a personal response indicating someone actually reviewed one’s ministry qualifications, education (M.Div, etc.), and work experience. Some of us feel truly called by God to change careers, attend seminary, enter into volunteer church leadership positions, and apply for vocational positions. And one brings their entire professional background (for example, hospital nursing or medicine) into the mix with the intention of serving God in a different way, only to be rejected totally sight unseen. I know it’s a matter of His plan and timing, but the lack of simple courtesy in the job application “process” speaks volumes about our love and concern for one another in these troubled times. Thanks for letting me vent a little bit !

    • Vincent, thanks for your post. I resonate with you and found what you write to be very true. Many continue to have the the medieval idea of “vocational” ministry, where only those “specially” called are suited for ministry. This was contrary then and is so today. Christians are all called to ministry in every place God places them.

      • Vincent says on

        Thanks very much, Bill. Appreciate your comments. I agree with the title of this week’s post from Dr. Rainer that there are indeed terrible (and wrong) reasons to enter vocational ministry, but there are many of us who place Christ in the center of our lives and want to enter vocational ministry for all the right reasons – serving Him. But with almost all the job applications, we are left in total limbo and have no idea of our status regarding review or potential interest in us as candidates for a position.

    • Vincent – Thanks for your transparency. Perhaps God wants you to be a missionary. Check out some mission boards. They will want you to have a sending church which means involvement in a variety of ministries and a relationship with a Pastor who will recommend you. You can do ANY ministry as a businessman as preparation. The Apostle Paul always combined marketplace ministry with spiritual leadership, even church planting. 1 Cor. 4:12, 16, 17 “… and we labor, working with our own hands….” 16 “…be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”

      • Vincent says on

        Thank you, Tim. Will pray and think about your thoughts. My background is medicine. I have a friend experiencing the very same thing as me – a strong sense of calling from God to pursue vocational ministry, but hearing nothing from the churches and places he has applied to in the past year, even though he meets or exceeds all the requirements for the positions. He too is waiting on the Lord, but it can sometimes be discouraging because of the lack of simple courtesy or civility from our Christian brothers and sisters.

      • The Great Commission goes to every believer, no exceptions. There is no greater or higher calling than this. There are many nations, tribes, and people groups who have yet to hear the good news. There are millions of believers in every town and village in America to deliver the gospel. Use your medical gifts, and continue to increase them. Healing gifts, even very simple ones. are a key ‘DOOR OPENER’ for the gospel hardened by generations of bondage to evil. Acts 14:27 “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

    • Vincent, I’ve been there. I was out of seminary for two years before I was called to my first church. For a while I was beginning to wonder if I had missed my calling. After all, if God had truly called me into the ministry, wouldn’t He provide some place for me to serve? To make a long story short, a church did eventually call me, and I stayed there for eleven years. As I look back, I can see why God made me wait for so long: He still had some things He wanted me to learn.

      I know it’s a trite statement, but God does have a plan. My advice is to hang in there. Sooner or later God will open a door for you. In the meantime, take advantage of any other ministry opportunities that you can.

      • Vincent says on

        Ken, thanks for your note of encouragement and support. It is appreciated ! I would expect and “understand” favoritism, nepotism, politics, and age discrimination in the secular world, but didn’t really anticipate it to this extent in the world of Christian ministry. Thanks, again.

      • It is very sad, but it is true among Christians there is plenty of favoritism, nepotism, politics, and age discrimination. Along with end justifies the means and make decisions then ask God to bless. For some it is under the shroud of piety. I guess there is plenty of sin. Stay away from these, it will only create more problems later. In some places things are tough because so many hearts have waxed cold.

      • Thank you, Bill. I’m sadly finding out that this is completely true. Thanks for your advice.

      • Hannah Priscilla says on

        Vincent, I would strongly encourage you to consider what Tim said. I, too, have been out of a job for 6 years after a major career change that I am 100% certain God ordained.

        I honestly don’t have the time to list ALL the challenges all those in vocational ministry or seeking work face, like I said, it has been 6 years. But, in all due respect, I have to say that coming online and bashing future employers and bragging about being a Medical Doctor isn’t sounding very Pastoral, just from reading.

        I don’t know you AT ALL. Granted. However, might I suggest God is working on your temperament? Perhaps cooperate and in the mean time FOLLOW the advice from these Godly men to work in the meantime as you continue to apply. Don’t take the rejection so personally. It isn’t. And even if it were, promotion comes from the Lord. It isn’t exemplary to assume politics and nepotism are the reason you haven’t been offered your dream position after a year. Focusing on the God you want to serve and understanding and developing a deeper dependence on HIM might also be one of God’s objectives in your life, right now.

        You are in my prayers. Recall that anger does not produce the righteousness of God and also that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace. Bless you.

    • Ministry is sometimes like Being asked to tend a flower garden on top of mountain that no one sees. Just remember God sees it.
      Unfortunately there is not only a lack of called ministers but also a lack of called servants replaced by pillars of the church who think you go out and “Hire” a preacher. It’s frustrating to have a call on your life and not be afforded the opportunity to serve in a desired opportunity. I try to remember that a true servant does not need an official title to serve and God’s call will afford opportunities that others sometimes do not recognize. Be true to your call. No task is to small for a true servant. Apostle Paul picked up sticks to start a fire, yes, he got bit by a snake, told he was deserving of being bit but still ministered to those in need, then was worshipped as a god, he stayed focused on serving not quitting to soon or basking in praise. Press on my friend.

  • Very needed post!

    In 50 years as a Christian I can only think of a handful of those clearly lacking the call to preach. One would tell us plainly he entered the ministry when injury forced him out of his preferred job, another became a pastor to augment low salary at another job, and the third was open and honest he “hated to work and wished he could retire.” The latter did not prepare sermons, just spoke “whatever was on his heart” each Sunday. Three train wrecks. We also had a few who seemed to just view it as their vocation, not their calling. Again, train wrecks. I also know one who is excellent but seems his wife is not supportive, nor willing to attend his church, etc. I pray for her to come on board since he seems clearly called, and this could turn into a train wreck.

    On the other hand, we have had wonderful leaders who were truck drivers, oilfield workers, teachers, etc during the week and preached on Sundays. We have also had wonderful preachers with a Ph.D. Those God calls He also equips, even if not formal education and/or by formal education.

    The church needs to be reminded to call leaders who are called of God. Just accepting a course of study completed and the applicant’s that they feel called is not enough.

    Thanks for encouraging us to use our discerners.

  • As a Lay Speaker, I would add that loving what you do on Sunday morning doesn’t always translate to a love of what goes on between Monday and Saturday.

      • Stephen Jackson says on

        For any pastor to not visit the sick and dying of their church is failing not only God, his congregation, but himself as well. These so called christian pastors who say the members of the church should do the ministry themselves are just lazy sinful people. Why in the world do we need pastors for if we are going to do the ministering. Man I wish I had a job I could get paid to make people do my work. My goodness you only have to preach a couple hours on a Sunday. If you think you don’t have to visit those who give money to your church when they are ill then don’t be a pastor. My father had a stroke and asked for his pastor to come and pray for him. I his son called the church and asked for the pastor to come. He must of been to busy fishing on his boat to come. He did send someone who didn’t offer any prayers or comfort stayed 2 minutes and left. Thanks alot for nothing. This is why the churches are dead in America! The only thing Americans care about is how big there bank accounts are what cars they drive what big houses they have how important their jobs are. In this church there were actually people asking for prayers cause they couldn’t decide what color their next car should be. PLEASE!!!!!!!

      • Stephen,
        I am praying for you right now.

      • Stephen:

        Let me start by saying that my heart truly aches for what you have and continue to go through with your father. I could certainly feel your frustration in your response.

        Having said that, your response misses the mark by quite a ways. I am a supply preacher assigned by my denomination’s District Superintendent to fill in at churches across our District. As a result of that, my primary focus is actually what goes on during Sunday morning worship.

        The reference in my comment is about the politics, drama and BS that go on in churches between Monday and Saturday, and had absolutely nothing to do with doing or not doing visitations. As long as you’re asking, I spend about 6 weeks a year covering pastoral call for my home pastor, and have done dozens of visitations.

        Finally, I would like to cordially invite you to ride with me some Sunday when I’m preaching at a multi-point church that involves leaving the house at 6:30, putting on 300 miles, preaching 2 or 3 services and getting home at 2 or 3 pm depending on whether or not you decide to stop at a restaurant or have gas station gourmet for lunch.

      • “These so called christian pastors who say the members of the church should do the ministry themselves are just lazy sinful people.”

        The same can be said of so-called “Christian” church members who think the pastor should do all of the ministry because, after all, “he’s getting paid for it”. Just sayin’….

  • For #5, for most pastors, who are serious about meeting the needs of people this is true. However, there are some who do take the opportunity to make it a country club lifestyle…. do not minister to people… live on a past reputation… and abuse their position.

    • Yes. But fortunately few in number.

    • I must say #5 does make me laugh a little. Working in IT for churches for almost a decade, I have had to cancel paid vacations to fix problems, but I have yet to see a minister do the same. I regularly clock in 60 hours in 3 days on a regular basis, while going to seminary and raising a family, vocational ministry would be a break for me.

      • I can’t speak for the clergy you have been around, but for myself and every pastor I know, that is not the case. Many of us have spent our day off in an emergency room, doing a funeral, and even attending to an issue that someone else labeled as a crisis (but was not). We have also cut vacations short, attended to church work while on vacation, and had people “stop by” when we didn’t take a “go away vacation” (because our scheduled time off can’t be matched to the rest of our family). None of which is a complaint. I just wanted to point out that for the clergy I know, curtailing and losing scheduled time off is more the norm than the exception.

      • Paul Warren says on

        Thank you for your service and I have noticed this same trend recently.

  • I was in pastoral ministry for eleven years; stressful, yes. I burned out and got out. But when I left (and went to work at a Christian college in various non-ministerial roles) I missed it. Now, nineteen years later, I am back in pastoral ministry (it has been a bit over a year), wiser and loving it. But this time around my wife is not interested in having any part in this ministry, which is difficult. She doesn’t even attend church. This has created new challenges, and I am not sure how I will meet them down the road.

    That said, I don’t feel like I made a bad move to leave, and I believe God has led me back. Sometimes the Lord can call someone away for more “seasoning”, before bringing them back to ministry, more prepared.

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