August 16th, 2010
|10:22 am - NYT article: lowering burnout among priests|
An interesting article popped up in the New York Times not too long ago: "Taking a Break From the Lord's Work". The article talks about a rise in obesity, hypertension, and depression among clergypersons in America, and a lowering of life expectancy. In addition, they apparently have "significantly higher rates of arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma." Mostly, this is attributed to the "growth-ethic" of churches these days (wherein megachurches are the desired outcome) and social media and cell phones. I stumbled across the article when it was referenced on Wikipedia's "Clergy" article (which I stumbled onto trying to find out what a shorter word for "ordained priest" might be).
While we don't have to worry so much about "megachurches" (though Three Cranes is rather large, clocking in at around 50 people who are somehow officially related to the Grove, either as Members or as Friends), the social media aspect is huge with us: demands to be on e-lists, video chats, Facebook, and other net-savvy functions are high. . . so high, in fact, that those who are visible and quick to respond are seen as better at "doing our jobs" than those who aren't, which is a troubling (if understandable) trend. The social aspect of being a priest can really, really wear on folks.
I like the solutions hinted at in the article: yearly retreats (with longer sabbaticals every few years), teaching Priests to say "no" (I've learned that one, for the most part, pretty well), encouraging discipline of any sort (particularly silence, meditation, prayer, vacation days, etc.), and calming the need-for-growth mentality.
Anyway, food for thought.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: "Train to Dixieland", -JB
Your earlier posts about a physical discipline regimen seem perfect, particularly for obesity and related health concerns. I know that when I attended church as a kid, physical activity was *not* a priority for the clergy. Also, eating was considered the one "sin" you could get away with (yes, I know that's not a concern for ADF).
That should be eating to excess. As far as I know, clergy still need to process food. :)
Third circle secret: living on sunlight!
*nods* Physical activity as spiritual discipline can do some of that. It has, after all, lowered my own body fat.
The article tends to tie the higher levels of obesity (I am assuming that they're using a BMI scale, so opinions on how useful the measurement might be are likely related to the use of that index) to stress. Speaking for myself, I think that any discipline that reduces stress (and really, any discipline will, whether it's jogging or praying on a set schedule) is likely to reduce my weight by reducing the amount of food I stress eat :)
I'm trying to think of the last time I was in a jazzed-up disciplinary mood from prayer and meditation and had a sudden craving for Skittles (my current go-to stress candy here at work), and I'm drawing a blank.
But yeah, an active life style will help the average priest achieve a BMI at least as average as the average person, so point well taken. :)