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Buddy Christ

Happy in your Work?

Buddy Christ

Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, published a fascinating blog post on clergy happiness. Apparently in a list of jobs, clergy come out as being happiest.

Happiness as a goal for life is an interesting side discussion. And the original survey is talking about job satisfaction, which I suggest is slightly different from “happiness”.

In the survey, clergy come out first for job satisfaction. Kelvin suggests some reasons:

  • Very high degree of autonomy – notwithstanding bishops, presbyteries and other forms of oversight, clergy have to be very self-motivated.
  • We are in the joy business.
  • There’s a relatively high level of vocational testing before you get in – the churches try to select those who are most likely to cope with a very odd life.
  • High satisfaction levels around being with people in trauma and emotional need – you know you are doing good very often
  • High level of variety in daily life.
  • It is a life not a job.
  • Inner calling is a greater motivator than money – you don’t go into it for more money.
  • Lots of opportunity to develop a life where internal reflection allows you to work through your own stuff.
  • The job involves telling people they are loved and learning how much you yourself are loved too.
  • You get to walk into places and situations where others are frightened and help them deal with their fears.
  • Worship.

Certainly I know clergy who are regularly unhappy, but like Kelvin “My hunch is that those who are unhappy in this job tend not to be unhappy about the essence of the job and are frustrated because they can’t vicar enough to fulfil the hopes that they once had. (My apologies for verbing the noun in that last sentence).”

Malcolm Round also says it well IMO: “I think our calling , role and ministry allows us to be have times of real deep job satisfaction and purpose but doesn’t protect us from the pain and stress and unhappiness that mistreated by parishioners , lay leaders or the institution can put us under and stop us from doing the role properly that gives us such satisfaction!”

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Happy in your Work?”

  1. Robert W M Greaves

    That is a horrible picture. I don’t think I would ever, ever set foot in a church which had that monstrosity outside it.

    1. Buddy Christ is a parody religious icon in the film Dogma. In the film, he is part of a campaign (“Catholicism Wow!”) to renew the image of (and interest in) the Catholic Church. Viewing the crucifix image as “wholly depressing”, the Church, led by Cardinal Glick (George Carlin) decides to retire it, and creates Buddy Christ as a more uplifting image of Jesus Christ.” The film itself, Robert, is an interesting reflection, if you can cope with violence and swearing. Sorry for my assumption that the image and allusion is well known. Not sure if I should apologise for my Monty-Pythonish, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour 🙂 Blessings.

      1. Robert W. M. Greaves

        I have seen the picture before and each time thought ‘Ugghh’. Given the amount of tackiness out there, it’s difficult sometimes to know what is parody and what is meant seriously. Now I’m going to have to put the film on my mental film wishlist.

  2. I know I’m a cynic these days but here in the US clergy have a good job for life with health insurance…why wouldn’t they be happy?

    I have yet to attend a church where the clergy feel it is part of their duties to even talk to the parishioners let alone actually help them…they preach and they ask for money and they go on expensive trips to evangelise.

    I know it’s different in other countries/communities but still- there’s a huge ego-reward in being clergy, plus a very sheltered life for those who don’t particularly care or can switch off.

    There’s no general sense of ‘noblesse oblige’ any more amongst the privileged, from royalty to politicians to the mega-wealthy to the clergy.

    ‘can’t vicar enough to fulfil the hopes that they once had.’

    Ah, and therein lies the rub…they are the best clergy in my experience, devoid of the smug ‘I have an answer for everything now sign here and write a check’ glibness of so much modern ministry.

    I can always tell a good church: they serve dementia patients, that huge and growing population who are as inconvenient as anyone could be towards the end of life- and as rewarding and special. I have seen miracles!

  3. I guess Bosco, the happiest clergy are those who know they have been called by the God of Love to not only preach, but actually Live out amongst other people the Good News that they are not alone amongst the ups and downs of daily life.

    Those, conversely, who might appear to be ‘happy clergy’ – like the recently dismissed Bishop of the Church, whose self-importance required him to acquire a very expensive motor car with all the trimmings of an expensive life-style – may be self-deluded. Nor do they help the image of what was meant to be a ‘Servant Church’.

    However, most of us who struggle – even in so-called retirement – to uphold the sacramental life of a living Body of Christ, ministering to the poor and disenfranchised of this world, would consider ourselves to be privileged if not always bubbling over with enthusiasm.

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