Fostering Faith Development

When we look at all 15 potential Satisfiers, the aspect of ministry life that is least likely to show up as a Satisfier is Fostering Faith Development. This includes having opportunities to share your faith, seeing people come to faith, and seeing someone grow a passion or their spiritual gifts.

Interestingly, when Fostering Faith Development is not a Satisfier, it is almost always the case that it is quite positive, but not frequent enough in an individual’s life to tangibly contribute to overall satisfaction.

Most people in ministry find Fostering Faith Development a very satisfying and life-giving aspect of ministry – this is not surprising as it is often the desire to specifically foster faith development that has brought an individual into a ministry role!  But 30% of our participants are telling us they aren’t able to engage in it frequently enough to experience its benefits in an ongoing manner.

 

Prompts for Reflection:

  • If you are frequently able to engage in Fostering Faith Development, what is it about your ministry context or personal choices that makes that possible for you? Is it something you have had to intentionally work at?
  • If you find Fostering Faith Development to be too infrequent in your current ministry life, what is one step might you take to increase its frequency?

Work Relationships & Respect

Almost 95% of participants name Work Relationships and Respect as a current Satisfier in their ministry life; on the flip side, just over a quarter of participants identify Work Relationship Challenges as a Stressor.

This suggests that the teams within which we function make a significant difference in our experience of ministry life. Although many aspects of ministry are done without an audience, the relational context within which these happen also matters. For many people in ministry, you may have multiple “rings” of relationships: supervisors, colleagues, administrative support personnel, volunteer leaders, and financial donors.

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth pausing here. Feeling respected and having positive relationships with colleagues and supervisors has a tangible impact on our satisfaction with ministry life and our sense of personal accomplishment.

 

Prompts for Reflection:

  • Thinking about your best work environment experience, what contributed to making it so positive for you?
  • What strengths do you have in your current work relationships? How can you guard and build them?
  • When do you feel most respected by your colleagues? In what ways do you intentionally demonstrate respect and appreciation for those with whom you work?
  • If you are facing work relationship challenges, it may not be feasible to change colleagues or supervisors; what changes might be possible within your current work parameters?

The Two Sides of Time

Many of us have a complicated relationship with time. When it comes to individuals who work in ministry, a strong majority of our participants identify Time & Diversity of Tasks as a Core Satisfier. On the other hand, nearly half identify Time & Workload Strain as a Core Stressor, making it our most frequent Core Stressor.

In other words, while ministry life often provides time-related perks, such as flexibility, the ability to adjust a schedule on short notice, and the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of tasks and projects, it also comes with time-related strains. These include not enough time for pastoral care, leisure activities, or personal relationships; having to work evenings, weekends, and holy days as the norm; and being stretched too thinly over a range of tasks and projects.

In all likelihood, every ministry role will come with a certain amount of time-related stress. However, the positive aspects of how many ministry jobs are oriented around time can be cause for celebration, and the lens through which we explore and navigate the more difficult aspects of this reality.

 

Prompts for Reflection:

  • What would you identify as the most positive part of your current relationship with time?
  • What would you identify as the most difficult part of your current relationship with time?
  • If you are currently experiencing the joy of your relationship to Time and the diversity of tasks you are involved in, what is helping foster this? Make note of what contributes to this satisfaction. Consider how you might protect or maintain this satisfaction.
  • If you are particularly feeling a sense of Time & Workload Strain, are you able to identify one place where you could make a change?* Perhaps a project that you can excuse yourself from, or a part of a day to commit to leisure on an ongoing basis.

 

 

*Whenever we invite you to reflect on possibilities for change, we recommend that changes be attempted one at a time. There are two reasons for this: (1) trying to change too much at one time may increase your stress level rather than improving your experience of ministry life; and (2) it will be difficult to figure out which change in which aspect is having a positive (or unexpected negative) effect if you are attempting to change several aspects simultaneously.

Vocation & Calling

Drawing on data from over 280 participants to date, Vocation & Calling is our most frequent Core Satisfier. Ninety-five percent of all participants in the Wellness Project have reported that their experience of Vocation & Calling is more than moderately positive and more than moderately frequent in their ministry lives.

In our research, Vocation & Calling includes a sense of knowing you are in the right place, where God has called you to be; believing that God is leading you even when you aren’t sure where you are headed; and being able to integrate your vocation with the rest of your life.

Vocation & Calling recognizes that ministry is not simply a job, but that there is a sense of divine engagement and direction in choosing to pursue ministry work, and from what our participants have reported, experiencing certainty in God’s presence and leading is an important source of satisfaction and encouragement to individuals working in ministry.

 

Prompts for reflection:

  • Reflect on significant moments of clarity and discernment. What have been the markers for you that you are where God wants you to be? Has how you sense God’s leading changed over the years? In what ways? Take a moment to thank God for being present and guiding you throughout your ministry life.
  • If/when you begin to feel that your sense of vocation and calling is facing challenges, can you identify whether it is an inner struggle or external circumstances that are contributing?
  • In Christian culture, we often speak of people being “called to” a particular ministry role, but we rarely speak of God “calling us away” from a position. Is it possible that a shift in our sense of vocation and calling could be a period of God “calling us away” rather than a loss of calling?

 

Resources for further reflection:

Courage & Calling by Gordon T Smith

Calling: A Song for the Baptized by Caroline A Westerhoff

The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor