Unhealthy Clergy

I worked as the Data Analyst for the three year, multi-million dollar, multi-national research study (it was a real study!) dealing with healthcare benefits for Episcopal clergy and lay employees.  In our research, it became blatantly apparent that clergy are an unhealthy bunch.  The nature of the work and difficulty we have setting boundaries contribute to our lives being less than healthy.  We are undisciplined in this area, too.

I have found that I actually have to physically leave home and neighborhood (get out of town) so that I will  take a true day off!

This article appeared recently on AOL‘s blog, “Politics Daily.”  It is entitled, “No Rest For the Holy: Clergy Burnout a Growing
,” by David Gibson, Religion Reporter.  Here are a couple paragraphs:

“The untenable nature of the experience for me [being a pastor/priest] was being designated the
holiest member of the congregation, who could be in all places at all
times and require no time for sermon preparation,” Barbara Brown Taylor,
an Episcopal priest, said in describing her memoir, “Leaving Church,”
about her decision to abandon the pulpit. “Those aren’t symptomatic of a
mean congregation; those are normal expectations of 24/7 availability.”

Indeed, unlike doctors or police, for example, pastors are supposed to
be people who have dedicated their lives to a spiritual goal and are not
expected to focus on themselves and their own welfare in the here and

“I really don’t think people think about their pastors,” said Rae Jean
Proeschold-Bell, research director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative.
“They admire their pastor, and their pastor is very visible. But they
want their pastor to be the broker between them and God, and they don’t
want them to be as human as they themselves are.”

Further on:

A program called the National
Clergy Renewal Program
, funded by the Lilly Endowment, has been
underwriting sabbaticals for pastors for several years; the program will
provide up to $50,000 to 150 congregations in the coming year. And
places like The Alban
in Herndon, Va., are studying the topic and offering
expertise and resources to denominations trying to make their clergy

But experts also say the solutions have to start at the congregational

Congregants can encourage pastors to take time off, and not view
everything in the church as the pastor’s responsibility. They can also
be sure to provide healthy food at church events. But clergy must also
learn find time to exercise or relax, even if it means saying no to some
requests. Otherwise, they won’t be healthy enough to serve their flock
later on.

Enhanced by Zemanta