Statistics regarding pastors are not encouraging.
The Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development reports that 35-40 percent of ministers last less than five years in the ministry. Many statistics show that 60-80 percent of those who enter the ministry will no longer be laboring in the ministry 10 years later.
Whether these statistics are right or not, it is clear that there are struggles with persevering in the ministry. I would suggest that the reasons below are the greatest struggles to perseverance in the ministry (though you are welcome to add others in the comments).
As we consider each, I want to offer a little encouragement to young pastors and aspiring seminarians:
This is arguably one of the biggest surprises to young pastors. Conflict happens in the church; and it happens all the time.
Those in ministry will often be called upon to mediate conflict, navigate the waters of a conflict, and are regularly the target of much conflict. Pastors will find that there are hateful, petty, arrogant, rude, brooding and discontent people in their congregations.
Unfortunately, and coming as a surprise to many pastors, the fact is that the unconverted don’t tend to cause the majority of conflict; it is the converted who often launch the hardest persecutions. As William Still once said, “They want their part of the Gospel or their emphasis, usually that which they wrongly think does not touch them, call upon them or challenge them.”
It is also true that pastors are often the source of conflict themselves. Sin, errors in judgment and mistakes in leadership can cause firestorms.
Encouargement: When pastors are engaged in conflict, they must search their own hearts to see if their passions are out of control (James 4:1-2).
Has sin had a way with them? This must be their first and foremost concern.
However, most pastors will find that a great deal of conflict in the church will not be a result of their own personal sin. To survive, a pastor must not carry every burden and conflict. There are times to “let go” and move on.
Thick skin and a tender heart are good traits for a pastor. You must teach without fear the whole counsel of God, stand by your convictions and be winsome; but let the chips fall no matter who may be offended.
This humorous video illustrates the difficulties of explaining the Trinity without accidentally veering into heretical territory.