|Some Administrative Steps for Healthy Clergy
I have received comments over the past year that too much of what I have written has made individual clergy completely responsible for their situation. Some have suggested that there must be some systemic approaches to improving leisure and burnout among clergy. Here are some issues that might be raised by those groups who deal with the "system":
- Continue to examine policies related to vacation, continuing education, retreat and renewal leave, and sabbaticals. Educate congregations as to their viability and provide resources and logistical help in making them happen.
- Look at issues of control and reward in the appointment system. Over the years I have witnessed a growing openness in the appointive process with the cabinet and bishop. This must continue to be addressed vigilantly. Perceived freedom in the process is a clear step in preventing burnout. Fair and just compensation for clergy will continue to be an issue of morale among clergy. Research confirms that extrinsic rewards such as pay are not as important as intrinsic ones in the equation, it is also clear that lack of fair rewards for performance is a detriment in the burnout equation.
- Developing community. The formation of the order of elders/deacons is a step in the right direction. How can this be translated into daily living and practice? How can it be made practical for the upbuilding of the clergy? The demands of our calling are much too great to be without an active community of faith. This is difficult to legislate, because individual needs for community are different, but there must be attentive pursuit of community among the clergy.
- There may be a need for serious consideration of clergy designated for the purpose of the care of clergy. Many Bishops in other denominations across the South have fewer clergy under their care than most of our superintendents in North Carolina. Within the Moravian Church, there are bishops designated specifically for clergy care, and others for administrative work (most are serving a congregation as well). Could we devise a plan that would employ gifted persons specifically for the pastoral care of pastors?
This just grazes the surface, but it might enhance the discussion.
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