Clergy Health–What Matters Most?

The General Board for Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church lists thirteen key factors that influence clergy health and well-being. Those factors are (parenthetical comments added by MLCI blogger):

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Relationship with congregation
  3. Work/life balance
  4. Living authentically
  5. Personal centeredness
  6. Marital and family satisfaction
  7. Stressors of the appointment process (for non-UMC denominations this would refer to “Search and Call” or whatever process is able to be used by pastors for changing ministerial positions)
  8. Eating habits with work that often involves food
  9. Personal finances
  10. Existential burdens of ministry
  11. Appointment changes and relocation (interviewing, moving, family relocation to new work and school, etc.)
  12. Education and preparation for ministry (feeling under-prepared)
  13. Outside interested and social life (a lack of these indicates a lower sense of well-being)

You can access the 13 factors in full here, and also access a couple of graphs that further develop the factors. These factors should not, perhaps, be tremendous surprises, but it does help to see them laid out in such simple and direct terms.

The truth is that the vast majority of these factors can be true in any profession. Job satisfaction, family satisfaction, work/life balance, education for vocation, outside interests, etc. are all things that make a difference in most, if not all, lines of work.

#10, perhaps, is the complicating, and so especially key, factor for pastors. Pastors are, on a regular basis, invited into the most sacred and intimate and often painful parts of people’s lives, and the effect that can have on one’s general well-being cannot be underestimated.

It would be in the best interest of congregational leaders and pastors (and even their families) to be well-acquainted with all 13 of these factors, with special attention to how #10 might increase the weight of them all. And once well-acquainted, be willing to enter into conversation about these things with one another. Asking, “How goes it?” and truly listening to the response is a very important step towards a clergy person’s health and well-being.

What’s your reaction to these factors? Do they resonate? How do you manage them in your own journey as a pastor?