Last month the Chicago Tribune reported that pastors are the happiest people on earth - really. Research done by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center found that clergy ranked highest in job satisfaction and "general happiness." They even out ranked highly paid professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
The article reports:
Eighty-seven percent of clergy said they were "very satisfied" with their work, compared with an average 47 percent for all workers. Sixty-seven percent reported being "very happy," compared with an average 33 percent for all workers.
"They look at their occupation as a calling," Carroll said. "A pastor does get called on to enter into some of the deepest moments of a person's life, celebrating a birth and sitting with people at times of illness or death. There's a lot of fulfillment."
Can this possibly be true?
Since I entered seminary I've been bombarded with the horror stories of pastoral ministry. Like the enlisted men trembling as General Patton pontificated about the brutality of war, new seminarians are told the sobering statistic about ministry burn-out, moral failure, divorce, and depression. Ministry, we are told, isn't for the weak. Only a clear calling from God will keep us in the game, because apart from that there is little for church leaders to rejoice about. Shepherding sheep, they say, is a dirty job with few earthly rewards.
To illustrate the popular rhetoric Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in St. Louis compiled this list of statistics from organizations like Focus on the Family and Barna Research:
? Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
? Fifty percent of pastors' marriages ...