Monday, April 23, 2007

Study Shows Clergy Have Top Job Satisfaction

A study released last week shows that 87% of clergy surveyed (compared to 47% of all workers on average) stated that they were "very satisfied" with their work and 67% (compared to 33% average) added that they were also "very happy" in what they did. Physical therapists and Firefighters came in second and third respectively with over 75% indicating that they were "very satisfied" in their profession.

The Chicago Tribune, which wrote the story, stated that
The worker satisfaction study . . . is based on data collected since 1988 on more than 27,500 randomly selected people . . . (representing) 198 occupations.
Last on the satisfaction list were "Hand packers and Packagers" followed by Bartenders, Laborers (not construction), Waiters/Servers & Roofers.

As a pastor myself, I think that the 87% satisfaction rating for clergy seems a little high. I have to ask myself, am I "very satisfied" with my vocation 87% of the time? Am I "very happy" with my work 67% of the time?

Actually, I might come very close to those figures in my own life and ministry but I have been reading a lot of "gloom and doom" statistics lately as to how 20% of Presbyterian ministers leave the ministry in the first 7 years and that, nationwide, nearly 9 out of 10 ministers leave ministry before retirement.

Stress and burn-out are frequently cited as taking the most wear and tear out of a pastor. Congregational conflict and lack of functional support systems also contribute to this problem along with long hours and seemingly endless evening meetings!

As with most polls I take this one with a grain of salt. But I find it encouraging that at least one study has found that clergy are, for the most part, a happy and satisfied group of people. I have found this to be true for most of the clergy that I have been associated with (from all denominations) over my 28 years of ordained ministry.

Perhaps its because we only work on Sunday mornings? Not!

Rather, I give the credit to having the opportunity to serve and witness to Someone greater than myself and having the privilege of sharing in some of the most intimate and personal areas of people's lives; including birth, marriage and death (and everything in between).

I know that I could never do what I do without the power of the living God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) at work in me. As one clergyman once put it, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"

I will not retire wealthy in finances (although my Presbyterian Church USA denomination has a wonderful pension plan) but I will have lived a life in which I was (most of the time, at least) "very satisfied" and "very happy."

Apparently, "easy" does not equal "happy" and "satisfied" when it comes to one's profession.

I entered ministry reluctantly but with a joyful heart (after already completing a graduate degree in another discipline). I have never regretted saying "Yes" to what I believe was a "call" from God.

I would like to share something that I have found to be true for everyone, no matter what work they perform: If you seek to please God in all that you do, if you work at becoming the sort of person that God created you to be and if you can somehow rise to the place where you begin to "love one another" in the same way that Jesus showed love to us, then you will almost always be "very satisfied" and "very happy" . . . even if you are a "Hand packer!"