Recent research at Bath University has discovered that vicars, next to medical secretaries, head the list for job satisfaction. Although an Anglican vicar only earns £15,000 per annum (house and car thrown in) they expect nothing more and are content with their lot. The report found that 72% of clergy were “very satisfied” with their work and complained less about long hours than fire officers, prison officers and pharmacists. It went on further to say that the clergy’s level of satisfaction is “abnormally high.”
“For clergy, low material wants and expectations go with the job and entrance into the clergy is conditional upon accepting them.” Professor Michael Rose, who compiled the report said “clergy may feel morally obliged to understate any material dissatisfaction.” So, there we have it, a group of men who warm to poverty, positively rejoice at having a low income.
Kept humble by material deprivation has been a concept for generations, it being unthinkable that vicars can have wealth, or a high salary. The thought is that if the money paid is too high then the wrong type of person will be attracted into the ministry. Only the intelligent menial-minded types need apply!
The unspoken fact is that the wife of the local vicar usually has to work, thus doubling their income. It seems that this is an acceptable arrangement, but how much more convenient if the minister could attend to his duty untroubled by the need for his wife to be out at work, thus reducing his effectiveness in visitation and counselling.
When I was the bishop of the Metropolitan Region I discovered ministers with congregations of 40 desperately trying to make ends meet, and having to send their wives out to work, so they could live. My immediate reaction was – “why not go out to work yourself, Paul was a tent maker?” With only 40 and little demand for visitation or counselling (only about 4 would be absent each week) they could easily take on a job and run the church – after all, it’s only the size of an unusually large house group.
My theory did of course caused ripples and in certain places hostility! I was disturbing the status quo. But, back to job satisfaction. I still wonder why it is that ministers are so satisfied with their job. They work unreasonable hours – from before sun up to well past sunset, possibly seven days a week.
They are at the beck and call of many people, and have to jump quickly in emergencies – and they come repeatedly. They scratch to find new food for their sheep weekly, and watch, as they grow fatter and fatter, yet very rarely ever see them wander from the fold to speak to a goat.
I could go on, but I don’t want to raise the ire of my readers, because they may think I’m slinging shot at them, and I’m not, for I’m privileged to be in a church like HICC. Over the years there have been several men (from my denomination) who wanted to become my assistant – they felt they would have GREAT job satisfaction working for and with me.
I must admit I’m content and happy and have great job satisfaction; HICC for all its foibles is a grand place to be. It is of course the call of God, for without that and His anointing no man could either stand the pace or suffer the stress. Constant demands from frail humanity strike at our peace level as we identity with their troubles and pains. Switching off at times is difficult. Some problems are beyond human comprehension and only God can help.
But, with God’s call comes grace more than sufficient for the day, the time or the destiny. When God appoints he makes provision for the undertaking by becoming the underneath of support. In privation he is our supply, in weakness our strength, in trouble our peace and in our labour the accompanying oxen in the yoke of harmony.
If anyone can say they have job satisfaction they are blest beyond measure, and I think humbly of all those people in dead-end jobs with little or no appeal, and they suffer this daily. How sad and unrewarding that must be. They are in a cul-de-sac and cannot move out of it, because of age, little training and or lack of opportunity. It makes me shout ‘hallelujah’ for His goodness for putting me into the ministry, which must be the most blessed occupation in the universe.
It also makes me strive to make our Sunday services the best they can be, because for many this is the highlight of their week. Why shouldn’t they be lifted beyond the mundane and enjoy something special and thrilling; it will lift the gloom of Monday till Friday. Let’s hit high this morning – for others?