Skip to main content
Log in

Seventh-day Adventist Clergy: Understanding Stressors and Coping Mechanisms

  • Research Note
  • Published:
Review of Religious Research


This article examines the extent and types of clergy stress, the strategies used in coping with stressors, and the relationship between stressors and coping mechanisms in a sample of 261 Seventh-day Adventist pastors in North America. The results indicate that the most commonly reported stressors in order are: (1) lack of social support, (2) financial stress, and (3) time and workload stress. In terms of coping strategies, pastors sought relief most often through: (1) reflective growth/internal change; (2) social/emotional coping; (3) passive coping; and lastly (4) action-oriented coping. Significant correlational relationships existed between passive coping and financial stress, relocating stress, and congregational stress. In addition, we found significant inverse correlations between coping through reflective growth or internal change and relocating stress and congregational stress. There were no significant relationships with action coping or social/emotional coping and any stressor. Multi-regression analysis reveals that passive coping strategies were significantly related to financial stress. Thus, the greater the financial stress, the more likely pastors were to engage in passive coping strategies. Other coping strategies showed no significant relationships when included in multi-regression analysis. We conclude with recommendations for Church administrators to address structures and practices in place for pastors including an expansion of coping mechanisms to help pastors address their stress.

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

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  • Bull, M., and K. Lockhart. 2006. Seeking sanctuary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2013. Occupational employment and wages, May 2013, 21-2011 Clergy. Retrieved from

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015. Occupational employment and wages, May 2016, 21-2011 Clergy. Retrieved from

  • Chandler, D. 2009. Pastoral burnout and the impact of personal spiritual renewal, rest-taking, and support system practices. Pastoral Psychology 58(3): 273–287. doi:10.1007/s11089-008-0184-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coffin, J. 2009. Adventist remuneration philosophy: Not quite radical enough. Spectrum Magazine, November 4, Accessed June 23, 2017.

  • Darling, C., E. Hill, and L.M. McWey. 2004. Understanding stress and quality of life for clergy and clergy spouses. Stress and Health: Journal of The International Society for the Investigation of Stress 20(5): 261–277. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dilday, R. 2013. Deciding on pastor’s pay still tough, experts say. Christian Century 130(21): 15–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Doolittle, B.R. 2010. The impact of behaviors upon burnout among parish-based clergy. Journal of Religion and Health 49(1): 88–95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellison, C.G., L.A. Roalson, J.M. Guillory, K.J. Flannelly, and J.P. Marcum. 2010. Religious resources, spiritual struggles, and mental health in a nationwide sample of PCUSA clergy. Pastoral Psychology 59(3): 287–304. doi:10.1007/s11089-009-0239-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Folkman, S., and R.S. Lazarus. 1985. If it changes it must be a process: Study of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48: 150–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2014. World church. Retrieved from

  • Golden, J., R.L. Piedmmont, J.W. Clarrocchi, and T. Rodgerson. 2004. Spirituality and burnout: An incremental validity study. Journal of Psychology & Theology 32(2): 115–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haney, B. 2008. The relationship between labor market structure and clergy compensation in Protestant denominations. Atlantic Economic Journal 36(1): 65–75. doi:10.1007/s11293-007-9090-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hileman, L. 2008. The unique needs of Protestant clergy families: Implications for marriage and family counseling. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health 10(2): 119–144. doi:10.1080/19349630802081152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hill, E.W., C.A. Darling, and N.M. Raimondi. 2003. Understanding boundary-related stress in clergy families. Marriage & Family Review 35(1–2): 147–166. doi:10.1300/J002v35n01_09.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jacobson, J.M., A. Rothschild, F. Mirza, and M. Shapiro. 2013. Risk for burnout and compassion fatigue and potential for compassion satisfaction among clergy: Implications for social work and religious organizations. Journal of Social Service Research 39(4): 455–468. doi:10.1080/01488376.2012.744627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kayler, C.J. 2011. Clergy stress: A study of stressors and stress-relieving practices among United Methodist clergy across three districts of the western North Carolina conference. Doctoral dissertation. Retrieved from ProQuest (3481905).

  • Lee, C. 2007. Patterns of stress and support among Adventist clergy: Do pastors and their spouses differ? Pastoral Psychology 55(6): 761–771. doi:10.1007/s11089-007-0086-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lee, C. 2010. Dispositional resiliency and adjustment in Protestant pastors: A Pilot study. Pastoral Psychology 59(5): 631–640. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lee, C., and J. Iverson-Gilbert. 2003. Demand, support and perception in family-related stress among Protestant clergy. Family Relations 52(3): 249–257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LeGrand, S., R. Proeschold-Bell, J. James, and A. Wallace. 2013. Healthy leaders: Multilevel health promotion considerations for diverse United Methodist Church pastors. Journal of Community Psychology 41(3): 303–321. doi:10.1002/jcop.21539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, C., D.W. Turton, and L.J. Francis. 2007. Clergy work-related psychological health, stress, and burnout: An introduction to this special issue of Mental Health, Religion and Culture. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 10(1): 1–8. doi:10.1080/13674670601070541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacDonald, C.J. 2011. Adventists’ back-to-basics faith is fastest growing U.S. Church accessed on line August 5, 2016.

  • McEwen, B.S. 2008. Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators. European Journal of Pharmacology 583(2–3): 174–185. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.11.071.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McEwen, B.S. 2006. Stress, adaptation, and disease: Allostasis and allostatic load. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 840: 33–44. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1998.tb09546.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McMinn, M.R., R.A. Lish, P.D. Trice, A.M. Root, N. Gilbert, and A. Yap. 2005. Care for pastors: Learning from clergy and their spouses. Pastoral Psychology 53(6): 563–581. doi:10.1007/s11089-005-4821-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miles, A., and R. Proeschold-Bell. 2013. Overcoming the challenges of pastoral work? Peer support groups and psychological distress among United Methodist Church clergy. Sociology of Religion 74(2): 199–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research—General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2012. Seventh-day Adventist world church statistics 2012. Retrieved from

  • Proeschold-Bell, R., and P. McDevitt. 2012. An overview of the history and current status of clergy health. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community 40(3): 177–179. doi:10.1080/10852352.2012.680407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proeschold-Bell, R., A. Miles, M. Toth, C. Adams, B.W. Smith, and D. Toole. 2013. Using effort-reward imbalance theory to understand high rates of depression and anxiety among clergy. The Journal of Primary Prevention 34(6): 439–453. doi:10.1007/s10935-013-0321-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Remuneration Scale North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, January 1, 2017. Retrieved from

  • Schneiderman, N., G. Ironson, and S.D. Siegel. 2005. Stress and health: Psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 1: 607–628. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schwarzer, R., and C.S. Schwarzer. 1996. A critical survey of coping instruments. In Handbook of coping, ed. M. Zeidner, and N.S. Endler. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sedlacek, D., D. McBride, R. Drumm, A. Baltazar, G. Hopkins, E. Oliver, R. Chelbegean, and Thompson, W. 2014. Seminary training, role demands, family stressors and strategies for alleviation of stressors in pastors’ families: Final report to the North American Division Ministerial and Family Ministries Departments in conjunction with the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

  • Staley, R., M. McMinn, K. Gathercoal, and K. Free. 2013. Strategies employed by clergy to prevent and cope with interpersonal isolation. Pastoral Psychology 62(6): 843–857. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0473-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Staley, R.C. 2012. An investigation of the strategies employed by clergy and their spouses to prevent and cope with Interpersonal isolation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Oregon: George Fox University.

  • Trihub, Bobby L., Mark R. McMinn, William C. Buhrow Jr., and Thomas F. Johnson. 2010. Denominational support for clergy mental health. Journal of Psychology and Theology 38(2): 101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turton, D.W., and L.J. Francis. 2007. The relationship between attitude toward prayer and professional burnout among Anglican parochial clergy in England: Are praying clergy healthier clergy? Mental Health, Religion & Culture 10(1): 61–74. doi:10.1080/13674670601012246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vaccarino, F., and T. Gerritsen. 2013. Exploring clergy self-care: A New Zealand study. International Journal of Religion & Spirituality In Society 3(2): 69–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wells, C., J. Probst, R. McKeown, S. Mitchem, and H. Whiejong. 2012. The relationship between work-related stress and boundary-related stress within the clerical profession. Journal of Religion and Health 51(1): 215–230. doi:10.1007/s10943-011-9501-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wells, C.R. 2013. The effects of work-related and boundary-related stress on the emotional and physical health status of ordained clergy. Pastoral Psychology 62(1): 101–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, C.B. 2011. Understanding stress and the quality of life for adolescent children of clergy: A retrospective study. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A 71: 3055.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Duane McBride.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Heck, A., Drumm, R., McBride, D. et al. Seventh-day Adventist Clergy: Understanding Stressors and Coping Mechanisms. Rev Relig Res 60, 115–132 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: