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Pastor's Health

Top Ten Causes of Depression in Pastors

Depressed ManAs Pastors and Ministers, we have had opportunities to experience the highs of ministry and being used by God to bring healing in many situations.  Unfortunately, on the flip side, many pastors have difficulty fighting through the challenges of ministry.  The expectation is that the pastor would never reach the depths of depression, but persevere despite all challenges.

According to Dr. Marc Rultand, here are the top ten causes of depression that pastors face*:

                  1. Failure
                  2. The Fear of Failure
                  3. Rebellious opposition
                  4. Disappointment
                  5. Mental and Physical fatigue
                  6. Loneliness
                  7. Stress: usually financial
                  8. Frustration
                  9. Accumulated hurt
                  10.  Anger and unresolved inner issues

This is what Marc Rutland, known for his work with Calvary Assembly in Orlando, President of Southeastern University and President of Oral Roberts University had to say about this list he authored (link below): “That is the big ten as I have observed them, not in some distant, statistical study, but up close and personal. I know I am not unique or even rare in this experience. I have occasionally struggled with depression, more circumstantial than clinical though not altogether, throughout my forty-six years of ministry. I have known dark moments and personal failures. I have been deeply disappointed in myself and struggled at times to stay in the ministry, or even to feel that I should stay in the ministry. In one truly terrible season, only the grace of God through my wife, two friends that refused to let me quit, and the wise and anointed help of a trained counselor kept me in the work.”


There are two points in my sharing of this article.  The first one is to rally believers to pray for their pastor and other church pastors.  The pastors of our local communities and/or cities need our prayers and I hope that you will join in and pray for them and all of the challenges pastors face.  Second, that we would encourage Pastors in their ministry.  Encouragement is the opposite of discouragement, which leads to depression.  Our words, participation and prayers can make a significant difference in the life and ministry of a local pastor.  May God bless all pastors as they continue in their calling to share the compassion of God and the gospel message with their congregation, community and world.  Will you join in and respond with prayer and encouragement?


Check out my recent articles on pastors:  7 Ways I Helped a Pastor in Distress, and Eight Characteristics of Emotionally Healthy Pastors.


* Original Top Ten Causes Post of Depression posted by Marc Rutland from the National Institute of Christian Leadership.  Link here: The Antidote for Poison Berries.



16 thoughts on “Top Ten Causes of Depression in Pastors

  1. Andrew, you’ve expressed beautifully the same concerns I have for Christian poets and writers and other communicators for Christ. Thank you. I’ll highlight your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog in hopes that our FB members will see. God bless you and your good work in Jesus’ Name.

    Posted by Mary Sayler | April 28, 2014, 8:20 am
  2. Great post. As an Australian who is Pastoring a church in Scotland, I think that we need to ask ourselves regularly; “what is church” ?. Is the church we see today the church Jesus had in mind when He said that He would build it ?. We also have to ask whether we are in the new or old covenant ?. We are still mixing the two covenants. Also, most Pastors have to do things outside their gifting because the system demands it…this is serious stuff. I have decided that if I can’t do it, then I am not graced for it. This takes the pressure off tremendously; even if things may not be done or there is criticism. Peter.

    Posted by Peter Hall | April 30, 2014, 6:47 pm
  3. Peter, I really appreciate your insight and pray God’s blessing upon your ministry in Scotland. With any pastor, it is very hard to do things outside of their giftings / abilities. Not only is it more difficult work to accomplish, but many times it fails to meet the standard that a pastor has established for their ministry. This can create stress and criticism. Your conclusion is strong of if I can’t do it, then I am not graced for it. No pressure! Thanks and keep it up.

    Posted by cak777 | May 2, 2014, 8:55 am
  4. I would like to suggest these 10 are only symptoms of the real problem. The professionalized pastorate is loaded with severe systematized corruptions of what the Bible calls pastoring, shepherding, etc. The main duty and focal point of their time and emotion is the weekly Bible lecture called a sermon. Where does the Bible say God’s people need to hear a 30 – 45 minute professionally prepared Bible lecture every week of their lives in order to be considered “fed” or “taught”? I can’t seem to find it. “Preach the word, in season and out o season…” does not say this very narrow monolithic approach to preaching. But the system assumes it all without question. I see preaching and teaching in the Word being done by all God’s people. But in view of the long standing tradition to professionalize this so one man does 99.9% of the expression of truth in the worship hour, the saints are happy to out source this responsibility to them and pay the offering fee. They will consume 86% of the giving to buy hired services and a special building to hold a crowd of people. They are good with that because now church is easy for them. There are many more severe corruptions if you compare the system with the Bible, but I will leave it with just one right now. Maybe you have found the Biblical call for one man to dominate this way in the worship hour. I”ll get on board if you can find it for me. How much more emotional pressure must today’s hired pastors go through before someone checks out the Book to see if it’s really true that they do this things and call it church? I’m trying to help out with a real solution. Everyone will do better in their faith if church works like an organism and not an institution. “You are the body of Christ…” Let’s “throw off the things that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles so we can run the race marked out for us. Praying won’t help if we insist on perpetuating disobedience.

    Posted by Tim | May 11, 2014, 2:08 am
  5. Thanks for posting this. here in Africa, it’s very hard. I used to think that pastors in western world are okay, here you can even lack money to buy a speaker of the sound system. I pastored a church for 4 years raising money for buying a small sound system. we raised equivalent to $200 for 4years. we have limited resources and very many demands. many needy people who came for help every day, and we feel that God has called us to do it. every demand that comes is serious. and you find that you want even to quit ministry. I feel that if these problems are addressed, we should look for the solution to the problems as we serve God. More especially to places where people are yearning for God’s help. Thanks very much for those comments.

    Posted by Arinaitwe Moses | September 18, 2014, 10:04 am
    • Arinaitwe, Thanks for sharing. Your challenges are serious; but I encourage you to continue. Your ministry is having an impact despite the limited resources. Continue in what God has called you to do. You will remain in our prayers.

      Posted by cak777 | September 24, 2014, 7:46 am
      • I am always ready to serve him in all situations. Jesus was very poor but he served faithfully. I Know that all challenges we face, Jesus knows them. He is very ready to save us.

        Posted by Arinaitwe Moses | September 25, 2014, 12:59 pm


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