Thursday, April 26, 2007

To err is human

Today's statistics are from Atul Gawande's book on why physicians make mistakes -- it's called Complications: a surgeon's notes on an imperfect science, and it's guaranteed to scare the liver out of you; it also made me think long and hard about the reasons why pastors make the mistakes we do.

Anyway, here are the statistics I promised:
  • 32% of the working-age population develops at least one serious mental disorder over the course of life. (And again, we're talking serious mental disorders here -- stuff such as major depression, mania, psychosis, panic disorder, or addiction.)
  • This means that, at any given time, anywhere from three-percent to five-percent of all practicing physicians are unfit to see patients. (Presumably, the same is true of plumbers, particle physicists, and pastors.)
Okay, so what does this mean for pastors (aside from the fact that it explains a lot of what goes on at pastors' meetings)?

Number one: stick around long enough, and you are just about guaranteed to be there when some of your church members go through serious mental illness.

Number two: chances are pretty good that a few of your church members are going through something like that right now.

And number three: if someone has been giving you a hard time lately, then you may want to consider the possibility that it may not be their fault -- not in the sense that you can really hold them responsible for their actions. Don't take it personally, in other words; you just happened to catch them at a rough time.

1 comment:

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