Pastors who Suffer from Relational Anorexia

relational anorexiaIn my research for my latest book, 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, I discovered that pastors are often the loneliest people in the church, second perhaps only to their wives.

I interviewed Dr. Michael Ross, Executive Director of The Pastors Institute, who has worked with several thousand pastors in various capacities. He told me that the number one problem pastors face is isolation.

Gary Kinnaman author and former mega-church pastor and Alfred Ellis, author and founder-director of Leaders that Last, an organization for ministers, wrote, “Most people in full-time ministry do not have close personal friendships and consequently are alarmingly lonely and dangerously vulnerable.”[1]

Well known author, Steve Arterburn has observed that “the men in the church who are least likely to have friend connections are pastors.”[2]

Focus on the Family discovered that nearly 42% do not have any accountability partner with whom they meet.[3]

And the Alban Institute, an ecumenical organization that serves thousands of congregations through research and publishing, has learned that pastors tend to seek help from others only when they are in crisis, “rather than allowing these resources to sustain and nourish them consistently.”[4]

In other words, we don’t seek out safe people to help us process ongoing ministry issues until they escalate into major crises. Even then, many pastors suffer alone.