As a priest, you work in the area broadly known as human services (e.g. police, ambulance officers, health professionals, social workers etc). Studies identify that those working in human services have an increased risk to their health and wellbeing due to high stress levels and burnout.
There are many reasons why clergy are at particularly high risk, a few of these are:
  • High expectations on self and varied/unrealistic expectations by others
  • Lack of clearly defined boundaries - tasks are never done
  • Hard to measure achievements
  • Lack of separation between role, relationships, living environment
  • High time demands
  • Multiplicity of roles/responsibilities
  • Increasing administrative work – offers little reward
  • 'Shift work' and being 'on call' can increase isolation

To list some simple guidelines may seem trite if you are currently feeling stressed and frustrated. A big part of the picture is to recognize that it is normal to struggle with these sorts of issues in ministry and thinking through some positive approaches is a good way forward. Perhaps the first thing to do is to think through how you can say 'No' when you need to. Work out your personal and ministry priorities so you can measure requests against a bigger view than the immediate demand. Start with self care so that you can feel back in control of the decisions you are making.
I have a slogan on a coffee mug "A well dusted home is the sign of a wasted life"; It is a good reminder about priorities. I'm sure someone can come up with an equally clever slogan for priests.

Cheryle Davies
Clergy Healthcare Coordinator

  • Created: 03 June 2010
  • Modified: 30 November -0001