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Earl Marshall

Clergy Happy?

The Globe and Mail has announced the results of the General Social Survey by the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago (September 2, 2011 Christian Science Monitor) on the ten happiest jobs and the winner is . . . wait for it . . . the clergy.  The main indicators of job satisfaction according to the survey are social interaction and helping people and that is why clergy score the highest on the happiness scale. 

21st Century Strategies paints a different kind of picture.  While there is no doubt that the ministry can lead to a high level of fulfilment the statistics of clergy leaving ministry and the state of the church in general seem to suggest anything other than "happiness" or "fulfilment".  This has led 21st Century Strategies to conclude that "the only way clergy satisfaction can be that high is if most clergy are counterfeit – that is they aren’t called to be pastors. If they were, their heart would be broken over the condition of the church".  Other studies over the course of this last decade have indicated that the clergy are in a state of crisis, leading some to suggest that clergy are angry, frustrated, and depressed. 

So which is it?  Are we happy, fulfilled, and satisfied or are we frustrated and depressed?  My friend www.DashHouse.com says that, "Pastoring is one of the toughest jobs out there, but it's also one of the happiest at the very same time".  Maybe we are destined for the emotional roller coaster between fulfilment and frustration.  Two things I know to be true.  First, I am guessing they didn't do the survey on job satisfaction on a Monday morning.  Second, pastor make sure you take care of yourself.  The highs and lows of the emotional schizophrenia will wear you out.  Take care of yourself.


  1. to define clergy as a tough vocation inherently requires a reframing of what tough is. I have long maintained it’s the easiest job in the world that will break your heart. on the one hand ministers are by far the most melodramatic people i have ever encountered when it comes to their job. Most entrepreneurial adventures require far more time commitment and sweat. Most small business people are far more financially invested and spend long hours every day, after their 12-14 hour work day, doing books, taxes, payroll, etc.
    on the other hand people say things to ministers that they would say to their worst enemy, pry into his personal life, judge him and ask impossible things.
    so who has it worse?

  2. Everyone forgets that these surveys about clergy happiness fail to distinguish between gospel-centered pastors and those who are unregenerate.

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