A calling and a job

The New York Times published a thought-provoking op-ed a couple of days ago about burnout among the clergy:

But there’s a more fundamental problem that no amount of rest and relaxation can help solve: congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.

The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.

As a result, pastors are constantly forced to choose, as they work through congregants’ daily wish lists in their e-mail and voice mail, between paths of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security. As religion becomes a consumer experience, the clergy become more unhappy and unhealthy.

Surely, clergy are not the only people who are burned out not because they work too hard at their jobs, but because they cannot do their jobs to their own satisfaction. Teachers and writers who are under similar pressure to dumb down, cheer up, and keep it simple, stupid. Doctors who can’t spend more than 10 minutes with a patient because of insurance regulations.

People who have to ignore their calling in order to keep their job.

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One Response to A calling and a job

  1. bluemoose says:

    Discussed this over lunch with the significant other, and we agreed that this sounds much like a bureaucrat’s life — not the “higher calling” part, but the tension between knowing how to do an excellent job, sometimes even something you love and believe in, and being hamstrung by management, regulations, office politics and policy, etc.

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