Mad Church Disease

Caution tape

Today I want to recommend a book that I believe will benefit you in your ministry. Even though it is not written for pastors’ wives, I believe it will bring to light some things for you and your ministry about burnout. I would strongly recommend that you share it with your husband.

The name of the book is Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson. I want to share one of the researches from chapter two in the book on the health of the pastor’s family.

Breakdown-scientific Proof: Health of the Pastor’s Family

Family Health: Self

  • 94% agree with the statement, “There is extra pressure being married to a minister,” including 54% who strongly agree.
  • 91% agree there is extra pressure being the child of a pastor; 46 percent strongly agree.
  • Six out of ten pastors say that their role as a minister prevents them from spending sufficient time with their family.
  • On a scale of 1 (extremely unhealthy) to 5 (extremely healthy), pastors were asked to rate the health of their family relationships. The average rating for their relationship with their spouse was 4.5 out of 5, with 47 percent considering their relationship extremely healthy.
  • Overall, pastors rated their family health as a 4.

Family Health: View of other Pastors:

  • Although pastors give their family relationships high marks (4), when asked to rate the health of other pastors’ families the average rating was 3.2.
  • The average minister estimates that 25 percent of pastors he or she knows are having relational issues with a child, and 20 percent of other pastors are having considerable problems in their marriage.

Ellison Research’s president, Ron Sellers noted the difference between how pastors see their own family health and how they see the health of other clergy families. “Ministers apparently have a much more optimistic view of their own family than they do of the families of other ministers,” Sellers stated. “When one out of every twenty ministers feels his or her own family unit is unhealthy, but one out of every seven ministers believes the family units of others in their denomination are unhealthy, there’s a disconnect.”

Sellers added, “One of these perspectives probably is wrong—either things are not as bad with other ministers’ families as the typical pastor believes, or things are not as healthy with their own family as the typical pastor believes.”

Based on this research, even if only 5 percent of pastors are in seriously unhealthy relationships with their families, that’s almost 20,000 people. And that is just an estimate of senior pastors; it doesn’t include other church staff works or volunteers.

(Grey Matter Research & Consulting,  New research shows pastors may not have a realistic view of the health of their own family, July 19, 2005. http://www.greymatterresearch.com/index_files/Pastor_Families.htm)

Although this research is almost 11 years old, I believe it is still very relevant and may even be a higher percentage now.

We must keep our priorities in order – God, family, and church. If one of those gets out of order, our whole life is out of balance and problems begin.

About Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for 39 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

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