Monday Morning Insights

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    Pastor:  How Many Hours Do You Work?

  • 33% said that being in ministry was an outright hazard to their family
  • 75% reported a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
  • 50% felt unable to meet the needs of the job
  • 90% felt they were inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
  • 70% say they have a lower self-esteem now than when they started out
  • 40% reported a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
  • 37% confessed having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend
  • 1991 Survey of Pastors, Fuller Institute of Church Growth, Pastors at Risk , H. B. London, Jr. & Neil B. Wiseman, Victor Books, 1993, p. 22 (from

    FOR DISCUSSION:  Truthfully... how many hours are you putting in a week?

    Consider the following sobering survey results of the personal and professional lives of the clergy: 90% of pastors work more than 46 hours a week; 80% believed that pastoral ministry affected their families negatively…


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    1. pjlr on Tue, July 26, 2005

      I’d like to see some updated statistics to those quoted.  They are almost 15 years old.  Ministry has changed significantly in that time and I’m sure the answers would reflect that fact.

      As for how many hours, I try to keep it under 50 although sometimes there are marathon weeks and I’ve learned to coast on some week when things can and should be allowed to slow down.

    2. jade on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Where is the the joy in ministry?  So many people who don’t enjoy being a full time pastor.  I really don’t understand.  I have times when I am down, but I can’t see doing anything else.  God created me to be a Pastor it is a part of who I am.  Notice it is not who I am, who I am is a child of God. 

      I don’t think it has had a negative effect on my family.  I hope I never get to a place where that is true. 

      As for how many hours I put in a week.  I required to put 50 in and I put 60 hrs in consistantly.

      In Christ


    3. Ben on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Our staff is required to put in 50hrs a week.  But that can include meetings, visits, mentoring, all church activites, etc.  Like the last guy, I know that God created me for ministry.  But its my job to balance ministry and family.  I think the problem comes in that our congregations don’t understand that God calls first to be followers, then fathers and husbands, then ministers.  And those statisics come from congregations not getting that and try to fulfill family and ministry.

    4. B.D. LEWIS on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Wow, what a question. I am not a pastor (YET), but as an associate minister in our church, I put in on an average 25+ hours a week. I teach a men’s class on Monday nights, bible class on Wednesday nights. not counting meeting and preparing for Sunday morning/evening services.  But you know what? I LOVE IT. I WAS BORN FOR IT AND GOD HAS CALLED ME TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!

    5. imajslvr on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Having been a succesful Senior Pastor, building a mainline denominational church from 20 to over 400 in 5 years - and now in the role of an Associate Pastor, I have seen both sides of the fence.

      As Senior Pastor, my family always came first, and the church understood this.  Unless it was a dire emergency, Mondays and Tuesdays were my days off.  I had a private line at the house that only my staff had the number for, and they were duly trained when to call that number.  My hours varied from 40 to often 60 hours weekly.

      As an Associate, my hours have increased, my pay has decreased, and my influence waned.  But in my heart I know that I am right where God wants me to be, and there I will remain until He sets the stage elsewhere.


    6. Steve on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Yeah the stats are fifteen years old… I am sure they are much worse now considering how overall most stats you read reflect that most people in America work more and feel more stressed than ever before. I would guess that these numbers haven’t changed much and if anything things have gotten worse in some areas for pastors (as they have for many people)...working longer hours is commonplace today!

      We all work too much in my opinion. And when I don’t work I think about work which constitutes working. Any one else identify?

    7. rev-ed on Tue, July 26, 2005

      No idea how many hours I put in (or what to consider “on the job hours” and what not to).  My family comes first, and my church knows it.  But my ministry gets a nice chunk of my time as well.

      I figure I’m better off not counting the hours, as it would be too little for some and too many for others (and a headache either way for me!)

    8. DPP on Tue, July 26, 2005

      I lose track of how much time I work. That’s probably not a good thing! The needs are real and the temptations are always there to try to “please” folks but I am trying to keep “pleasing” God instead. I am more humbled now than ever and appreciate other pastors even more. I have a “no dissing” policy on other pastors. Melt downs happen every once in a while for me but I keep running back to God and He refills me. Lack of boundaries drive me a little crazy sometimes. Folks can be really needy.

    9. James on Tue, July 26, 2005

      Great topic and question. It appears that most of us put in an average of 40 - 60 hours. My last ministry position of 13 years I know I averaged 50 - 60. But I’m slowing down and getting wiser at how to do things. I try to keep all ministry activity to 40 - 50 hours. But I also include anything I do that can be considered “ministry”. Phone calls that deal with ministry, research, witnessing etc. Even devotions for men’s groups and meetings need to be considered part of ministry. Now if you include the hours we all spend in intercessory prayer, late night counseling sessions, being awakened in the middle of the night by God to write a sermon, or how to deal with a difficult issue I have no idea what that time would include. But I think you want to be more mindful of ministry and not the clock. And I know that is at the heart of this whole discussion, is the heart God has given us for Pastoring and ministry.

    10. Brad on Wed, July 27, 2005

      I’m a youth guy, me and my wife do about 168 hours a week!

      Not really, but while the overall responsibility is less, time may be more in the Youth Ministry

    11. Rick on Wed, July 27, 2005

      It’s a bit of a long story, but after 15 years in full time ministry, I’ve been in a season of work in a “secular” job.  (I’m still trying to get back into ministry—I’m a regular reader of this site.)  The last 18 mos. have been enlightening to me.

      Looking at these statistics, they are not unique to pastors.  MOst of my friends work more than 50 hours per week; many believe their jobs/schedules have a negative affect on their familiees; etc., etc.

      My question is this:  As pastors, where did we get the idea that our jobs would be stress free?  Are we so self-involved that we missed the fact that our people’s lives are pretty tough too?  The aostle Paul “learned” to be content in all circumstances.  It wasn’t an automatic condition based on his relationship with Jesus.  This is a tough world to make it in—in any profession. 


      I’m glad that this world is not my home and I’m only passing trough here.  In light of eternity, what’s another 58 hour work week?


    12. Rich Viel on Wed, July 27, 2005

      Great comment Rick.  I try to keep my time to 50-55 hours a week (this doesn’t mean that I don’t have occasional seasons where I work more).  I try to keep to this target because I want to model a healthy lifestyle for our congregation. This still gives me plenty of time for my own devotional time and my relationship with my wife and kids. I figure if the regular guy works forty hours a week, attends church on Sunday, serves in a ministry and attends a small group he’s probably at 50-55 hours. If I’m killing myself at 70-80 hours a week and ingnoring my family, I have no moral authority to challenge the man who is doing the same thing climbing the corporate ladder.

    13. Jason Nelson on Wed, July 27, 2005

      I used to work 70-80 hours per week.  One week during the Christmas season I put in 105 hours one week.  After a time of “seasoning” in my ministry and marriage I came to the realization that I need to work as hard as I can at ministry, but when the time comes for me to leave that ministry only 3 other people are going with me…my family.  So, I now work no more than 50 hours per week on average and I take 2 whole days off every week.  I have never counted weekend worship as “work time”, so that 50 hours is during the normal work week (I know, after you do the math it’s like 12-15 hour days, but that’s what it takes to give me famly time).

    14. Bart on Wed, July 27, 2005

      I agree with Rick’s post above.  Having been in the business world for 25 years I put in 50-80 hours per week in various positions.  Then I spent time teaching a Sunday school class, serving on church boards, or going to church activities.  The people in our churches are also spending to much time and are stressed out just like the staff.  As a Sr. pastor I am trying to get everyone to look at what we do and it’s value.  I think all of us need to slow down long enough to hear God and try to spend our time on things that further His kingdom.

    15. Rick on Wed, July 27, 2005

      Good Article- I am not a full time Pastor but I have told my Pastors at my church- I await the day- (Its not too far off).  As a volunteer at church I work my regular 40 hour job and then I am doing church functions 20 hours a week most weeks so to get a day off will be a blessing.  I have always felt that if you are in a Pastoral role that it is a calling.  If you don’t feel called- Then why would you be doing it except to pay the bills.  I think we all need to do some Soul Care work and make sure we stay refreshed in His Word so that burnout does not happen.

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