Clergy Burnout and the Pastor’s Family

This letter appeared in the December 16, 2020 issue of The Christian Century

As a clergy couple involved with ministries supporting clergy and their spouses, partners, and families, we read Tracey Dawson’s “Whose problem is clergy burnout?” (Nov. 18) with interest. She does a commendable job of drawing our attention to the need for congregations to better understand and support their pastor in times of stress. But by focusing exclusively on the relationship between clergy and congregation, she leaves out what is sometimes the greatest source of stress for the pastor: the need to balance the demands of the congregation with the needs of a partner and family. Excessive workloads, days off not taken, and intrusions into family time are felt within the family and create another world of concerns for the pastor. The well-being of the pastor’s family is essential for a successful ministry and a thriving church. Good church leadership recognizes this and includes the family in its support.

Bob and Mary James
Durham, N.H.