Claim: 1500 pastors/month leave their job because of burnout

That’s the claim that made in an article in the Charlotte Observer…

Biggest stresses:  long hours, too little time with family, delayed or interrupted vacations, nonstop counseling of people in crisis, and pressure to have the perfect family.

There is no doubt that being a pastor is a tough job.

No doubt at all.

But is it really worst or most stressful job that a person could have?

I’m not sure.

But it does take it’s toll.

Take Rev. Steve Shoemaker.  He’s the pastor at Charlotte’s Myers Park Baptist Church.

He checked himself into rehab last week.

Shoemaker had a tough year last year.  He fought depression and anxiety.  He got divorced.  And got hooked on alcohol.

“I’m physically, psychologically and spiritually depleted,” he told the congregation.

He is expected to return to work later this year.

Shoemaker is being given opportunities most pastors in his condition would never be given.  A chance to keep his job after personal failure and divorce.

I have mixed feelings about that.

But I do wonder… how many pastors are truly burned out and hiding it.

Are YOU Steve Shoemaker six months ago?

Maybe your marriage hasn’t fallen apart (yet), or you’re not that depressed (yet), or you think you can control that urge to drink (now)… but truth be told:  your dry and empty.

Here’s my challenge to you today:  get help before things all fall apart.

Fix the little cracks before the foundations crumble.

Need some help?  Contact me confidentially at todd rhoades at and I’ll see if we can’t hook you up with someone that can help you through whatever you’re going through.

QUESTION:  Have you ever been so burned out that it scared you?

Read more here…

Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube






  • Scott Couchenour January 7, 2013 Reply

    I’m really interested in the answer to this question too, Todd.

    “1,500? Come on, really?”

    And yet, “Oh my word, what if it’s 5,000?”

  • vince January 7, 2013 Reply

    I see a lot of my peers in ministry putting high value on being busy…whether they are busy or simply feel they have to look busy.

    This is because they don’t believe in the value of their work and time and make up for it by simply looking busy.

    On top of that, very few have a true outlet or space to develop themselves in a holistic way.

    To answer your question: have I ever been so burned out it scared me?

    No. I WILL drop the ball somewhere every week. I HAVE to let someone down. I MUST say no to somebody. It won’t be my wife. It will not be my kids. It will not be me when it concerns my holistic health.

  • Gary Reed January 7, 2013 Reply

    Good question to raise and I like your idea of seeking to fix the cracks, no matter if you sense you are falling apart in ministry!

    Do you know where the writer got his/her statistics? I know Duke University has done some extensive research in this area with Methodist pastors.

  • Ron Isam January 8, 2013 Reply

    I have read many statistics on this and it seems it is pretty close to the same. I found myself burned out a couple of years ago after 34 years of pastoral ministry. There were signs of it a long time before that. Though I didn’t experience moral failure, divorce or start drinking, I did find myself looking for ways out. It is to hard to just walk away. I put all my eggs in one basket–ministry. No other way to make a living. I read a book by Wayne Corderio called Leading on Empty. The sad thing is I had it i my shelf a long time before I read it.

    After reading it I was mesmerized by taking a sabbatical. I didn’t think I could take three months as he suggested but I did begin that year taking a month off. I cannot tell you ow much this has helped

  • Ron Isam January 8, 2013 Reply

    What I learned was that we are not made to live on adrenalin. When we have to be ready every Sunday, every Wednesday, dealing with peoples issues daily in the counseling office, administration, etc etc. we live at a high level of adrenalin. I was not able to get that down in my one week study breaks three times a year (which was my first step to fix burnout). I needed to stay level for several weeks without having to be ready for anything. I traveled some, wrote some sermons, worked in my shop, attended church, spent good time with my family. I know it seems impossible but it’s not. Give it a try.

    First year, I was still depleted some, but the second year, I went into the sabbatical at a better place and I came back refreshed and read to go.

  • David Charlton January 8, 2013 Reply

    A couple points of clarification – the article does not he entered “rehab.” It says he entered into a 30-day treatment center. The word “rehab” implies alcohol or substance abuse, but there are other types of treatment centers. And the article does not say he got “hooked on alcohol.” It says he was “self-medicating” with alcohol, which is not the same thing as being “hooked on alcohol.” Perhaps he saw that he might become dependent upon alcohol and acted before it happened. But to state he was “hooked on alcohol” is sloppy reporting Todd. And it’s not fair to say “I have mixed feelings about that” in relation to Reverend Shoemaker not losing his ministry after “personal failure and divorce.” What is his “personal failure”? Is it using alcohol or divorce? What if the divorce was not something he wanted or pursued? Do you know the circumstances? Is it alcohol use? It’s not the best way to handle stress and personal problems, certainly, but he recognized it as a problem and sought help. Isn’t this what we want people to do? You shouldn’t make a statement such as “I have mixed feelings about that” without further clarification. I applaud Reverend Shoemaker for recognizing that he needed to get some help and I applaud his church for making it possible for him to do so. I wish that more churches would help their ministers in such a compassionate way.

  • Jim Eschenbrenner January 8, 2013 Reply

    There is a network of ministries offering rest and care for those in ministry. Some are free, others charge a nominal fee. Some offer professional counseling, others provide a quite place to rest, pray, study, and rejuvenate. Every church, no matter how small, should set aside funds to make sure their pastor(s) spend some time at one of these ministries at least once every two years. Check them out at CareGivers Forum.

  • A. Amos Love January 8, 2013 Reply

    Yes – This “Title/Position” – Pastor/Leader/Reverend is very dangerous…
    Especially for those who do NOT qualify as an Elder/Overseer. 🙁

    Is it possible the reason “Burnout” “Depression” “Moral failure” is such a problem
    for *Today’s* “Pastor/Leader/Reverend” is they have taken for themselves

    A “Title” – “Pastor/Leader/Reverend” – That is NOT found in the Bible?

    Hasn’t anyone ever wondered Why? In the Bible?
    NOT one of His Disciples called them self – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?
    NOT one of His Disciples called another Disciple – Pastor/Leader/Reverend?

    And taken a “Position” “Elder/Overseer” they do NOT qualify for?

    Seems most Overseers “Ignore” or “Twist” the qualifications in 1 Tim 3:1-6, Titus 1:5-9.
    1 – Must Be Blameless. 2 – Just. 3 – Holy. 4 – Rule well their own House.

    So they can obtain this position of – Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Recognition…
    That comes with the “Title” “Pastor/Leader/Reverend.”

    Hasn’t anyone ever wondered Why? In the Bible?
    The qualifications for elder/overseer are so many, and so difficult?

    In my experience
    “Titles” become “Idols” ………….. (“Idols” of the heart. Ezek14:1-11.)
    “Pastors” become “Masters” ….. ( A No, No. Mat 23:10 KJV.)

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear my voice;”
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  • Pastor Tom Smith January 8, 2013 Reply

    I a, a Bi-Vocational pastor in a small association, (Aprox. 15 churches), however, we try an get together as a group for lunch every other week. These full time and bi-vo’s all have the same interest, and that is the welfare of the asso. churches, which includes the pastors. We have a good support group, and do support each other to the max.

    If you don’t have an association such as this, I would suggest you start one, and attend frequently. One caveat however, Seek out those pastors of you own beliefs. I cant tell you how destructive it can be to hear from “supposed” respected peer’s, and have them belittle you for your belief’s.

    For, “A. Amos Love’s” comments, yes, and no for the qualifications of being a “Pastor/Leader/Reverend”. I have always been uncomfortable with the title “REVEREND”. As to the reason being, that there is only one reverend, That is the Person of Jesus.

    A Pastor is a protector of his flock of sheep, one who sacrifices himself for them. A Leader, is one who has been selected to lead.

    I concur that there are those out there that are basically there for themselves, and not for God, however, however, Paul writing to his friend Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:1HCSBible
    This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” Those who make the decisions of selecting a a PASTOR/LEADER/REVEREND, have the responsibility to select ones who will not abuse that power/responsibility.

    That said, (Back to the subject), there are a lot of pastors out there that do feel isolated, and powerless, praise God, I am not one of them.

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  • Mike April 23, 2014 Reply

    you’re not a rich medical doctor, pastors, they’re barely home and when they are, they find out their wives are sleeping around or they wake up to their butt ugly wives, or their kids are running the streets gang banging, pedophiles run amuck and you cannot find the person because the church kids’ lives are threatened, you see suffering, dying and then dead people, feelings of being a hypocrite and all the preaching that comes out of their mouths are delusions or lies.

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