Why?….10 Reasons Pastors Leave

Most of us have read statistics that tells us how many men are dropping out of the ministry.  We have friends who have grown tired and weary and have simply checked out. Others have turned around and experienced a moral failure and have been removed from the ministry.  Why did the drop out? Why did they fail? 

Let me begin with a confession. I do not have the answer to that question, at least not completely. However, I do have many observations after 32 years in the ministry and having counseled a number of men over the years that have fallen or quit.  I am thrilled to be able to say that by the grace of an amazing God I have had the privilege of seeing a number restored to their families and some to the ministry. 

Recently I read an article by Jim Fuller on why pastors leave the ministry. I am including his ten points without all of his comments as I do think they are useful in some self-examination. I will however, include some comments that I hope will help you as you look to the Lord. 


Most pastors start out in the ministry with the energy and vision necessary to be able to conqueror most everything. What most seem to lack is a God given strategy to accomplish the God given vision. Let’s get on our knees with the Word of God open before us and determine God’s vision and strategy.


These feelings often lead to thoughts of failure, causing stress and anxiety in wondering how to pay the bills and having to feel we have to carry on with a smile for others to see. Pastors start out in the ministry with high expectations and often leave because of a lack of self-esteem. 90% of the pastors report they feel inadequately trained to meet the demands of the ministry, 70% report having a lower self-image now than when they first started and 50% of the ministers will not even last 5 years! These are horrible statistics! 

We are living in a church culture that is placing more attention on education and yet our seminaries have failed in training men for pastoral ministry.  What we are training most of the time are seminary professors. Please do not get me wrong, we need professors but the church needs men of God trained to be under shepherds. 


 A lack of motivation takes away all desire, will and drive. We lose our focus. 


Stress and burnout is one of the leading causes for pastor’s to leave the ministry. 


Let me stress at this point I understand. I have had the privilege of serving in local churches that made you feel like you are the best pastor in the world. I have also served where you would have thought that it would have caused excruciating pain if someone would convey any form of thanks or appreciation. 

If you are not a pastor let me encourage you to work hard at showing your pastor love and appreciation. If you are a pastor, let me ask, do you show appreciation to the people the Lord has entrusted you with?


While ministers should set standards high enough for others to follow and want to achieve, the very nature of double standards propel ministers to further distant themselves among others within the church. According to statistics, 66% of church members expect a minister and his/her family to live by a higher moral standard than they do. This pervasive thought lends itself unrealistic, and when accompanied by the demands of the ministry, ministers and their families feel the pressures and desire to further distance themselves even more! 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 94% report feeling pressures of being in the pastor’s family. 

Find a friend, be real and transparent. 


  •  Personal Devotion time alone for study and prayer 
  •  Set healthy boundaries around your ministry and family 
  •  Make personal time for family and friends 
  •  Educate your church/board 



  • Place boundaries to protect your family 
  • Make family time—no calls, except emergencies 
  • Delegate a leader to take calls and duties 
  • Take regular vacations (not just to relatives) 
  • Do special things with your family 
  • Treat your family better than your church members 
  • Limit and manage your time 
  • Educate your church the importance of your family 
  • Continually tell your family how much you love them 


Find a friend and mentor.  We all need people who will build into our lives. Who will love us enough to tell us the truth and at the same time will not abandon us. I am so very thankful for those men in my life. Those relationships have rescued me on several occasions. 


So many denominations have become about protecting the church because that is where the money is. Many of us have said about denominational leaders, “They can’t help me but they can sure hurt me”. If you are a denominational leader you can change that. Make pastors a priority. 


The most disheartening thing for a pastor to go through is to feel they have a message and direction from God for their church but the people are not willing to listen or respond 


Remember your call. That is the only reason to do what we do. A Holy, Awesome, Sovereign God called us to be servant leaders within the context of the local church.

In conclusion let me ask you this, Have you ever felt sorry for yourself? Have you said, Lord why me? Why can’t I have sometime in the ministry problem free? Why can’t I get to go here or there and preach? Why? Why? Why? Once again a true confession, I have. I have felt sorry for myself. I have been blessed and have preached all across Canada, parts of the Unites States, Europe, Africa, South Pacific and still I have found myself asking the Lord to deliver me from problems.  A dear friend said to me why should you be trouble free? Have you looked at Jesus? I am mindful that the Lord Jesus had a difficult time on this planet (from a human perspective). He was constantly being attacked from the religious right. He was slandered for spending time with the unclean, outcast of society.  His goal was to bring glory to His Father. Should we not consider it a joy to suffer for the cause of Christ? Our goal is to bring glory to the Father. Folks, we serve an audience of one. Let’s remember why we do this and stem the tide of walking away when we must return our focus on Christ. 

Philippians 3:13 & 14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. 

The enemy often uses people, events and situations to prevent us from reaching that mark. We can become too busy, unorganized, tired, suffer physical and financial strain, be unappreciated, seeing no results and many, many more. These still do not eliminate the overwhelming question, “WHO ARE WE DOING THIS FOR?” . Remember your call!

©2012 Lindsay Taylor