As the chief administrative officer of a church, I just finished making my salary recommendations for the rest of the church staff. But then the local newspaper just published an article, "The 22 Most
." I checked out the list in case any of my church staff are doing one of those jobs. If so, we ought to give them a raise. It turns out that none of the paid staff at our church made the list...technically.
It does turn out that athletes have the 19
most deadly job in America. And since both Jordan and I played for the church softball team, and we were both injured several times, I think the church might want to add to our compensation. But if the church does give him and me a little extra, they probably should also add to Aimee's pay (janitorial workers are the 15
most dangerous profession in the country) and Jim's pay (maintenance and repair workers come in 14
Firefighters have the 22
most dangerous job in the country, but we are not about to start paying the children who put out the candles on Sunday morning for their daring. Likewise, volunteers around the church who take out the trash after a potluck (trash collectors have the 6
most dangerous jobs,) paint the youth room (painters have the 18
most dangerous occupation,) or drive the church van (taxi drivers have the 12
most dangerous job) will have to wait for another pastoral administration to get bonuses for putting themselves at peril.
I was a little deflated to discover that being a pastor is not
specifically one of the 22 most dangerous jobs in America. So, I went online to find out if there would be some other excuse for me to elicit your sympathy. It turns out that we pastors do have the highest rates of
among workers in America, according to both a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey AND a Duke University survey. Among American workers, it turns out that 5% have had a significant depressive episode in the last year. We pastors, however, have more than double the rate of other employed persons. Clergy are at 11%. But we pastors are not entitled to all of America's condolences: turns out we have to share it with hairdressers, funeral directors, childcare workers, nursing home assistants, restaurant waiters, and fitness instructors. The common thread in all these occupations is that we all spend lots and lots of time witnessing other people's problems. Much as being a pastor puts me a front row seat to bear the travails and failures of people, I guess being a fitness instructor can be just as bad...or worse in some cases.
Realizing that I had to share your empathy with hairdressers and funeral directors, etc., I went back to the internet to see if perhaps being a pastor had more
than our fellows in the "personal services" industry. (I'm sometimes feel very competitive when I start researching things on the internet.) And while we do (on the whole) have more stress than our fellow depression-mates, it turns out that we pastors are way behind soldiers when it comes to anxiety in the work environment. Even if I have the congregation sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" every week, I doubt I can convince people to put me in the same category as the next group shipping out to Afghanistan. There is also no way my job can be confused with that of a firefighter, police officer, or airline pilot.
But I was
to see that number five on the stress list is:
That's a pastor! And job number six on the stress list is "newspaper reporter," (I have to help with the church newsletter every week!) And job number seven (I'm on a roll!) is corporate executive (our congregation is kind of a teensy-weensy corporation!) High stress job number eight is public relations executive (I'm always trying to get myself out of public relations trouble!) and high stress job number 10 is broadcaster. (My sermons
broadcast on the internet!)
Well...I feel better about myself, now that I have some sense of how dangerous, depressing, and stressful my job can be.
If I can just avoid reading the Apostle Paul, I'll be fine. Do you realize how much stress we pastors feel trying to compete with him? It's so nerve-wracking to try and impress people when you know, at any moment, they could throw his quote from II Corinthians in your face! "
Five times I have been lashed, three times beaten with rods...once received a stoning...three times I was shipwrecked...a night and a day I was adrift at sea...on frequent journeys encountered rivers, bandits...in toil and hardship through many sleepless nights, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked..."
Okay...so maybe I won't ask the church to pay me extra for playing on the softball team. I must belatedly admit that the church offers plenty of perks to compensate for that...and all the other stress and depression.
But think this: next time you receive the services of a hairdresser or a waiter...see if you can't come up with a little extra tip. And the next time you cross paths with a nurse, a teacher, a funeral director, a child-care worker, or a nursing home assistant...maybe a smile, a thank you...or even a little gift. And the next time the nation has an issue over providing better financial support for veterans (not just a 'thank-you' at a sporting event) consider suspending those hard-core political opinions to be more generous. There's no danger, depression, or stress in that! --Mike