Lazy Pastors


In his book Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them QuicklyMike Myatt says:

The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.

Many pastors are lazy, overweight, not motivated. They haven’t always been this way, it just happens. Now, swinging the pendulum to the other side and having pastors that compete in the Crossfit games, are workaholics and are legalists when it comes to driving their people and themselves to the point of burnout is not the answer or healthy.

Jared Wilson had a good post on “In praise of fat pastors.” After talking about how self-centered pastors can be and image concious they can be, he tries to save it at the end and say, “But I’m not calling for pastors to be gluttons or slobs.” The problem is, many pastors do not take care of themselves.

Consider these stats:

  • 90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
  • 1,700 or so pastors leave the ministry each month.
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.

Back to lazy pastors.

Many pastors struggle to set boundaries around how many hours they work, how many meetings they attend, how much time they spend on their sermon, having adequate family time, adequate time for their own soul, eating well, resting well, and exercising.

How is that being lazy?

As Mike Myatt said: The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.

Saying no, pulling boundaries takes discipline. Watching what you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise is about discipline. Wasting time on facebook or the computer keeps you from being on task, which keeps you working longer and because you are alone, you are probably now lonelier and the likelihood of you looking at something you shouldn’t online just increased.

I believe how we care for our bodies is a spiritual discipline, it is an act of worship. 

On top of that, finishing well as a leader requires energy and energy requires good sleep, good exercise and good eating habits.

When I meet a man who can’t control what he eats, I wonder what other areas of his life he doesn’t have self-control in, where else does he struggle to say no (food is never the only area). When a person can’t stay on task and complete their job in a decent amount of hours is someone I wonder who has the responsibility to lead things.

While this is not always the case, how we handle our health often reveals other things in our hearts and lives.

Now, just because someone has discipline doesn’t mean that is the ideal leader. They can keep people at arms length, care too much about their looks or what others think. Both the over-disciplined and the undisciplined are in sin.

Here is one thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown more disciplined in my life: when every minute is accounted for and given a name, things get done and less time is wasted. 

Which means I have time to do the things I want to do and to be at the things that matter.

So, how do you evaluate this?

I think a pastor needs to ask if they are known for being a workaholic, lazy or if they are known for having a strong work ethic. If you are to lead your church well and model this for the men of your church, you need to be someone others would aspire to. I think we do the name of Christ harm when we are known as lazy, slobs or workaholics.


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