Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Strategies Employed by Clergy to Prevent and Cope with Interpersonal Isolation

  • 318 Accesses

  • 6 Citations

Abstract

Numerous studies have affirmed that interpersonal isolation is one of the unique challenges clergy face. This study examined the experience of interpersonal isolation among a sample of clergy serving in a senior pastor role by having them complete a modified form of the Social Support Questionnaire, Short Form (SSQSR), as well as six open-ended interview questions. The interview responses of clergy participants were compared based on a median split of the SSQSR satisfaction scores. Analysis of clergy responses revealed several prominent themes in the following areas: barriers to establishing supportive relationships, strategies for establishing and maintaining supportive relationships, lack of support, and coping with loneliness. Identified themes, as well as clergy responses that exemplified these themes, are discussed. Clergy with social support scores at or above the median more frequently indicated that being transparent and vulnerable is a means by which they establish and maintain close, supportive relationships with others.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Baker, D. C., & Scott, J. P. (1992). Predictors of well-being among pastors’ wives: A comparison with nonclergy wives. Journal of Pastoral Care, 46, 33–43.

  2. Blanton, P. (1992). Stress in clergy families: Managing work and family demands. Family Perspective, 26, 315–330.

  3. Ellison, C. W., & Mattila, W. S. (1983). The needs of Evangelical Friends Christian leaders in the United States. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 11, 28–35.

  4. Gleason, J. J. (1977). Perception of stress among clergy and their spouses. Journal of Pastoral Care, 31, 248–251.

  5. Goetz, D. (1992). Is the pastor’s family safe at home? Leadership, 13(4), 38–44.

  6. Hall, T. W. (1997). The personal functioning of pastors: A review of empirical research with implications for the care of pastors. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25, 240–253.

  7. Hileman, L. (2008). The unique needs of Protestant clergy families: Implications for marriage and family counseling. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 10, 119–144.

  8. Hill, E. W., Darling, C. A., & Raimondi, N. M. (2003). Understanding boundary-related stress in clergy families. Marriage and Family Review, 35, 147–166.

  9. Lee, C. (1999). Specifying intrusive demands and their outcomes in congregational ministry: A report on the Ministry Demands Inventory. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 38, 477–489.

  10. Lee, C. (2007). Patterns of stress and support among Adventist clergy: Do pastors and their spouses differ? Pastoral Psychology, 55, 761–771.

  11. Lee, C., & Iverson-Gilbert, J. (2003). Demand, support, and perception in family-related stress among Protestant clergy. Family Relations, 52, 249–257.

  12. London, H. B., & Wiseman, N. B. (1993). Pastors at risk: Help for pastors, hope for the church. Wheaton: Victory Books.

  13. MacDonald, J. (2010, August 7). Congregations gone wild. The New York Times, p. WK9.

  14. Mace, D., & Mace, V. (1982). Marital enrichment for clergy couples. Pastoral Psychology, 30, 151–159.

  15. McMinn, M. R., Lish, R. A., Trice, P. D., Root, A. M., Gilbert, N., & Yap, A. (2005). Care for pastors: Learning from clergy and their spouses. Pastoral Psychology, 53, 563–581.

  16. McMinn, M. R., Kerrick, S. P., Duma, S. J., Campbell, E. R., & Jung, J. B. (2008). Positive coping among wives of male clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 56, 445–457.

  17. Meek, K. R., McMinn, M. R., Brower, C. M., Burnett, T. D., McRay, B. W., Ramey, M. L., et al. (2003). Maintaining personal resilience: Lessons learned from evangelical Protestant clergy. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 31, 339–347.

  18. Morris, M. L., & Blanton, P. W. (1994). The influence of work-related stressors on clergy husbands and their wives. Family Relations, 43, 189–195.

  19. Morris, M. L., & Blanton, P. (1998). Predictors of family functioning among clergy and spouses: influences of social context and perceptions of work-related stressors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 7, 27–41.

  20. Ostander, D. L., Henry, C. S., & Fournier, D. G. (1994). Stress, family resources, coping, and adaptation in ministers’ families. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 13, 50–67.

  21. Sarason, I. G., Levine, H. M., Basham, R. B., & Sarason, B. R. (1983). Assessing social support: The social support questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 127–139.

  22. Sarason, I. G., Sarason, B. R., Shearin, E. N., & Pierce, G. R. (1987). A brief measure of social support: Practical and theoretical implications. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 497–510.

  23. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.

  24. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirically validated interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.

  25. Sheldon, K. M., & King, L. (2001). Why positive psychology is necessary. American Psychologist, 56, 216–217.

  26. Virginia, S. G. (1998). Burnout and depression among Roman Catholic secular, religious, and monastic clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 47, 49–67.

  27. Vitello, P. (2010, August 1). Taking a break from the Lord’s work. The New York Times, p. A1.

  28. Warner, J., & Carter, J. D. (1984). Loneliness, marital adjustment, and burnout in pastoral and lay persons. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 12, 125–131.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Ryan C. Staley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Staley, R.C., McMinn, M.R., Gathercoal, K. et al. Strategies Employed by Clergy to Prevent and Cope with Interpersonal Isolation. Pastoral Psychol 62, 843–857 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0473-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Clergy
  • Stressors
  • Isolation
  • Coping