8 Reasons Pastors are Especially Tired These Days

Tomorrow, I plan to post about what happens to church leaders when we don’t get sufficient rest. Today, though, I want to talk about why pastors are often especially tired these COVID days. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. It’s all “just getting old.” It now seems like a hundred years ago when we had to shut down last spring, and it feels like we’re never going to get back to any sense of normal. It’s just exhausting.
  2. No matter what decision we make, somebody doesn’t like it. Should we regather or not? Should we re-start children’s ministries? Must we wear a mask? Can we pass the offering plate? In answering any of these questions, we’re likely to have somebody disagree with us.
  3. It takes more energy to speak to smaller crowds—particularly when they’re wearing masks. We can’t read their faces. Nor can we easily hear their responses. The crowds now seem dispersed throughout the room, and we yearn for the day when everyone returns.
  4. We’re still having more meetings, not fewer. Zoom made it possible for us to have more meetings without leaving our homes. Even churches that have returned to in-person worship, though, are still using electronic means as needed to have meetings. In general, meetings can be wearisome.
  5. Some ministry responsibilities remain especially challenging, even this far into the pandemic. For example, I still hear of pastors who are officiating virtual funerals, leading weddings dramatically changed by COVID, and ministering to shut-ins and hospitalized from a distance.
  6. Some pastors have had to lay off beloved staff members. Churches have continued to give remarkably well during COVID, but some congregations and their leaders still have had to make hard personnel calls. Those kinds of decisions drain even the strongest pastor.
  7. Some pastors have become home educators, too. That is, their time at home is hardly restful because they also must teach their children until they return to in-person classes. These pastors wear the cap of shepherd, equipper, and teacher all day long.
  8. We still don’t know where budgets will take us in 2021. In fact, many experts are recommending that churches adopt only a six-month budget for 2021 until we determine more clearly what the future holds. That reality in itself can be stressful.

Pastors, what would you add?


  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Some pastors had thought that when they had left Bible college or seminary, they would not have to do any more learning. The same pastors now find themselves facing a very steep learning curve that can at time be quite exhausting. They are being forced to master skills that they had previously not entertained learning, much less mastering. They are being forced to deal on a daily basis with new situations that they did not anticipate when they left school. Their adaptability and creativity is being challenged at unanticipated levels. What they thought would be an easy row to how is turning out far tougher than they thought. They were not prepared for the new demands especially the pressing need for innovation and accelerated change that leading a church in a serious pandemic places upon them. They may be tempted to believe that they can continue to “do church” the way that they did before the pandemic and which they came to prefer and may resist making necessary adaptions to a rapidly changing world in the midst of major public health emergency.

  • david w mcbryar says:

    Some pastors expenses have went up and yet they did not receive a raise. Those of us that pastor smaller churches and are the only staff it makes it a hard and difficult decision for the church not to lovingly support their pastor and his family financially. Your last point is correct because budgets will certainly be effected for awhile going forward.

  • Shae says:

    Complying with ever-changing government regulations and varying medical opinions. You don’t know what to trust but still want to do what is right to keep your flock safe.

  • Nathan Brown says:

    I would add that our counseling load has increased. With that, the severity or weight of those counseling topics have increased also. Many of our people are struggling with deep burdens, and we carry those burdens with them.

    I recently read a BBC article on the “devastating” impact this year has had on mental health.

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