Burnout and depression are no strange occurrences in the pastor’s life. A look into the factors that cause stress in the ministry as well as the effect that it has on the minister discloses the most shocking facts.
Pastors’ Wives Hurt, Too!
The pastors’ wife is the secondary, innocent, victim of these stressors that so badly effect her husband. In addition to this there are stressors that affect the pastors’ wife because of her unique position. Many pastors in South Africa left the ministry lately. A psychologist who devotes a large part of his counseling practice to pastors estimates that seventy percent of these cases are related to wives that cannot cope with the demands that the ministry brings about.
Research into high medicine bills of South African pastors revealed that about 73% was stress related.
What’s The Problem?
Many congregations have a preset role-prescription for their pastor’s wife. Often times these prescriptions arrive from a handed-down tradition that has long been outdated. She has to cope with baggage that has been the norm in churches since early ages. For instance:
- The pastor’s wife is expected to be in charge of women’s affairs.
- She must know everything about the Bible.
- Her house must be open to every member of the congregation, and it must be tidy (she has to put an example) twenty-four hours of every day, with little or no regard to her own privacy,
- She must be on duty for telephone service.
- She may not work outside her house, as this makes her an unfit mother and unfit pastors’ wife.
- She must be “well-dressed” and well groomed even if it is still early in the morning.
- In many churches the idea that women are sub-ordinate and men are the head of the households and must be in charge of church-affairs .
The above mentioned only touches the tip of the iceberg but I am sure you get the drive.
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Sarah Jane Wessels, B.Th., Dip. Biblical Counseling Studies of Ngupasen, South Africa’s Centre for Biblical-Christian Caregiving