Stressful Jobs that Pay Badly: #10 Pastor; #5 Worship Pastor

You think your job sucks?  You may have just gotten some confirmation.  According to this article from, two major church roles have the distinction of being the most stressful jobs that pay badly!

Coming in at #5:  Music Ministry Director

Median pay: $40,800
% who say their job is stressful: 67%

You may not think of people who plan, direct and conduct performances for religious services as being under a particularly high amount of stress. But they also choose the appropriate psalm or hymn for every wedding and funeral — only some of the most important events in a family’s life. And those stressful situations can create some demanding clients.

“Every now and then you’ll get a strange request,” said Dan Fenn, Music Ministry Director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minn. “A couple of years ago I got a request to play the Beer Barrel Polka at a funeral. You have to ask yourself, is this appropriate for a worship service?”

Coming in at #10:  Minister

Median pay: $45,300
% who say their job is stressful: 71%

They may answer to a higher calling, but all that spirituality does not come stress free. It’s a lot of responsibility being an authority on morality. Leading religious worship every week and providing spiritual and moral guidance can be a heavy cross to bear for those in the ministry.

“People who are deathly sick, people with substance abuse problems, things of that nature, that can be emotionally draining,” said Father Dan Skvir of Princeton, N.J. “I’ve had calls at 2 or 3 in the morning to come and attend to someone, people in imminent danger of death.”

You can read more here…

What do you think?


(Thanks to Jimmy for the heads up to this article!)


  • Clayton Bell November 19, 2009 Reply

    Wait, are we expecting jobs to NOT be stressful? Isn’t that part of the fall for men, that we would struggle to scratch out a living from the ground?

  • Rev Eric November 19, 2009 Reply

    As a young man I thought being a pastor would be fun. After all, you’re in a church where people get along. 🙂 As I grew older and became more involved in ministries, I began to understand the complexities in a church environment. Now that I am a pastor, I realize that “professional” church life can be stressful. It is also what I choose to be stressed about and how I handle things too.

    I think part of the stress for us pastors is that fact that we naturally idealize our call in our mind. When we face the reality of the real job, we are a little shocked as our perfect fantasy is dismantled. But I do think that is true with any career.

    After five years I am learning to choose what to get stressed over and to allow myself to enjoy my personal time. Jesus spent much of his time off by himself. He was busy, but didn’t seem to be stressed all the time. I am trying to do the same.

    ps. We just hired a worship/music director. I am trying not to get stressed over that! 🙂

  • Debbie Fuller Thomas November 19, 2009 Reply

    Frankly, I’m surprised that the position of Youth Pastor wasn’t at the top of the list. Often churches choose youth pastors who are just out of college or seminary (translation=cheap) who are young and can easily connect with youth, but are without significant experience and counseling ability in regard to serious life issues. Sometimes they are single without a sounding board, or recently married with youth ministry taking up every evening and weekend. In addition, they are often under incredible scrutiny by the parents who entrust their kids to them. Of course, the youth themselves can be so rewarding to work with!

  • Micahel Holmes November 19, 2009 Reply

    Serving the people of God stressful?? Get outta here!! 🙂

  • Jon Clayton November 19, 2009 Reply

    Pretty accurate stuff!

  • Richard November 19, 2009 Reply

    As my cardiac surgeon told me, “I have operated on many pastors.”

  • Josh November 19, 2009 Reply

    Please. How about children’s pastor!! That is more stressful and less pay then music or even the lead guy. Let’s admit it. How were those on the list and not the children position. Disappointed.

  • Leonard November 19, 2009 Reply

    Okay so this is not the pet peeve column of a few days ago, but come on, pastoring is a calling, it is stressful and often bays low, but we do not do it so it will be stress free and so we will make a bank full of money.

    One of my pet peeves is pastors who think because what they do is “god’s work” that their stress or pressures are on a different level than others. Sure it is hard, but so is being a cop, a teacher, a firefighter, a project manager for a company.

    One of the fastest ways to love credibility is to adopt a martyr tone as a minister. I hate these kinds of surveys. If pushed the what about me button in us.

  • Peter Hamm November 19, 2009 Reply


    Yeah, my job is stressful…

    But I knew it going in. The problem is for the people that don’t get told how hard it is before they get into it!

  • Fred November 20, 2009 Reply

    I think pastors who think they are under so much stress should take a couple of weeks off and go to work as a construction carpenter for a hard nosed, hard driving foreman. And try to visualize having to do that until retirement or death…just like some people in their congregation do every day…hmmm, Jesus was a carpenter.

    I know the pastors job is stressful (if you are actually doing the work), but some people need a little cheese with their whine.

  • Mandy November 20, 2009 Reply

    Josh, I’m right there with you about Children’s Pastors!!!! However, I’m not sure who is stressed more, me or my neurologist who is trying to help me manage my strees :)…..but jokes aside….all the stress is worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  • robbie foreman November 21, 2009 Reply

    I guess they never thought about student ministers. There is a good reason why they only stick around for 18 months. They make nothing and are constantly with students.

  • trabajar desde casa December 2, 2009 Reply

    I have to do some research for my homework about what people find most stressful about their jobs. Please could you say which profession you are in as we are studying the relationship between high control jobs and stress.

  • Online degrees in education can help pastors discover new ways to reach people. Especially kids!

  • Roger January 19, 2011 Reply

    Having a stressful job that pays low just makes the stress level rise. It’s a never ending road of stress that just keeps growing inside. I know, I went through it for about 10 years. My stress level was at roughly 70% and I was only making $34,000 per year. I have to say with emotion….that is in the past now!

  • Vicky Wydysh April 12, 2013 Reply

    I have been married to a pastor for almost 20 years. I have also during that time worked outside the home during this time. I have carried many different jobs, also because we have had to move. We also have a family. All I can say, is that carrying a job/responsibility and calling of a pastor is a very unique, and very stressful place to be in. There are blessing as well, but I gotta tell you, coming from a person who has worked outside the church, nothing compares to the job as a minister. It is very tough and I discourage anyone going into ministry, unless they are clear they have a calling!!!

  • vicky wydysh April 12, 2013 Reply

    It isn’t about comparison. Have you ever been in ministry full time, as a pastor? Every job has it’s challenges, but don’t try to judge and know what it is like. I work outside the church, and my husband is a pastor, and to be quite frank, there is no job like a pastor’s job, and it is stressful. Look at the stats, how long they stay, their families and what they go through etc.

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