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.
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?