Pastors have worse health

Just read this in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Daily Update:

February 26, 2008

Health-Care Costs Stress Churches
Churches are caught in a major financial bind as health-care costs escalate, reports Religion News Service.

Church memberships are declining — making finances tight — and the proportion of older clergy members is growing, so the cost of insurance for them is rising fast, the article says. What’s more, research shows that Protestant ministers tend to be more overweight, stressed, and depressed than the general population, adding to the overall increase in health costs borne by churches.

In response, some churches have made changes to their health-care plans and are encouraging pastors to get health-risk assessments and are offering incentives for taking steps to improve their health.

See The Chronicle’s article on the efforts under way by grant makers and others to help clergy members deal with physical and emotional stress.

(Free registration is required to view the Religion News Service article on the Washington Post site.)

“Protestant ministers tend to be more overweight, stressed, and depressed than the general population…”

What does that say about what we expect of pastors?

I’m constantly letting Vineyard Church of Waterville people know that I’m not the end-all-and-be-all of church life. God is no more available to me than He is to any of us.

I’m also clear on my limititations, like counseling. I’m not a “is-everyone-feeling-happy” pastor. I can’t play that game and stay sane.

Everyone comes into church with their own opinion of how a pastor is supposed to be. Usually it could be defined as “the person that meets all my needs and is always at my beck and call.”

Not even God meets all our “needs”!

I’m blessed to be pastoring a church that is supportive of my living in my limits. Sure, I constantly do things I’m not great at, like shoveling, cleaning ice off the roof…basically the stuff that just needs to get done.

And I pray all the time for counselor types to fill our congregation. We need people with spiritual gifts of mercy and compassion. (2 gifts I constantly score very low on!)

So, if VCW is your home, thanks. It’s an honor to be your pastor.

And if your home is somewhere else, please re-think your relationship with your pastor. He or she is simply a finite human being sincerely trying to live out of their spiritual gifting. It’s really easy to confuse that with meeting everyone’s needs. But that’s a sure fire way to lose. People can be voracious like 3 year olds—enough is never enough.

Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman helps leaders lead their teams with more effectiveness and less stress. The author of "Ask Without Fear!®," he is the founder of The Concord Leadership Group and He's also the executive director of and an Advisory Panel member of Rogare, a prestigious international fundraising think tank. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook. To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kathleen


    God didn’t put “mercy and compassion” as big items in your particular quiver, because he knew he was giving you a wife with large amounts of both in her own quiver—thus ‘the quiver is full.’ Something to be said for soul-mates, huh?

  2. Marc

    So true! 🙂

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