Today I will comment on what many will consider the most startling of all the statistics among the ones I am using this week. It is an eye opener and a heart breaker.
"50 percent of pastor's marriages will end in divorce."
The above stat does not deal with the number of pastor's marriages that will fail, yet no divorce due to extreme peer pressure. They will zombie it out to the grave.
John Conrad sent some numbers to me, many of which I will use in the ensuing days. John points out that according to Barna there are between 325,000 to 350,000 churches of all types in the U.S. which including men and women pastors in the range of 450,000 to 500,000. Sometime during the next 28 years (average career life) 250,000 clergypersons will suffer the ignominy of divorce. Depending on the group the penalty for marital failure among the clergy can be from severe to outright barbarous.
About nine years ago I told a younger clergy person who was not getting along with the wife of his youth; "You do understand that in spite of your gift, you will only go as far in our work as your wife will permit, don't you?" By that I meant that in the circle in which he ministered and wished to continue, he would have only the remotest prayer of success if his wife 'had enough' and walked out. I assured him that I knew firsthand because when I was an unsaved teen, I married and divorced. After meeting Christ Joyce and I were married and have remained so for coming up on 43 years. Before you swallow any store bought teeth, I was always upfront about this and besides the first girl has been dead for a number of years. In spite of this cross I had more than average success. I am certain that if now, after knowing Christ and living with Joyce in the Holy Estate of Matrimony were the word divorced attached to my name, I would be dead, as she is a good shot, or finished. In spite of all I tried to tell this and I might add numerous other men, a deaf ear was turned, the wife was terribly neglected to the tune of bedroom abstention for over 3 years. Now the divorce is signed by the appropriate officials but it will not be over for years as the children grow and the man whines, "Now that I am divorced, I can't be used." Brutally true in most cases. Of course a humble attitude and a doing what he does well, instead of fooling around would open many doors. I could list a phone book size volume with names of well known Christian workers who overcame this stigma.
Later in this series I will comment on what I believe is the primary reason for each kind of ministerial failure. It is so simple you will pause in stupefied wonder.
Years ago I knew a couple who were reasonably well known and the pastor was widely known as a 'ladies' man. He somehow continued, but his wife’s heart was broken. After the funeral Joyce and I were invited to the widow's home. She poured out her heart to us and went over the horrible way he had treated her. I asked, "Why didn't you divorce him?" I will always remember her answer; "I loved Jesus more than I hated Harry." Harry is not the name.
Pastor, get off your high horse and love you wife as Paul commanded. Flock, you only think you know all about your pastor, pray for him. And consider yourself and ask honestly,
"Do the people in my circle of relationships endure me only because they love Jesus more than they hate me?"