Family vs Ministry Conflict

Whether you have a partner, children at home, parents to care for, or find family in non-biological connections, our intimate relationships are a vital part of our lives. Holidays/Holy Days are often a time of gathering together as family; for many people in ministry, these are also some of the fullest work days of the year.

Ministry life inevitably comes with challenges, and one of those is navigating conflicting expectations or needs between family and work. For more than ¼ of our participants, this is experienced as a Core Stressor.

As the Advent season begins, looking ahead to where family and ministry needs may conflict can help you and your family make a plan for navigating these together, rather than being caught off guard when they occur.


Prompts for Reflection:

  • As you consider your own family context, do you feel conflict between your family life/needs and your ministry role? Is this an ongoing tension or a situational one?
  • Often family/ministry conflicts are more likely to occur around significant holidays or specific times of the year (eg September!). How might you and your family anticipate and create a plan for these times?
  • If Family vs Ministry Conflict is not currently a source of strong stress for you, what contributes to your success in this area? How can you celebrate and protect this alignment?


Management Skills

In our research, Management Skills includes administrative tasks, solving administrative problems, and using organizational skills effectively. While Management Skills is reported by the majority of our participants as a core satisfier, 23% of participants reported that Management Skills is not affecting their Satisfaction in any direction, and for 10% of our participants, Management Skills shows up as an “Irritant,” meaning that it is frequently required of them, but not particularly enjoyable.

People in ministry may not see themselves as “managers,” but as with many jobs, there is a certain amount of organizational management inherent to the work of ministry. What might change in your ministry experience if utilizing your Management Skills was understood to be a valuable and vital part of serving God?

Prompts for Reflection:

  • What is your current experience of administrative management in your ministry life?
  • What might it look like to reimagine your relationship with the administrative aspects of your work?
  • If it is not particularly positive, but frequent:
    • Is there room to adjust how frequently it is required of you? For example, would it be possible to delegate some of the tasks to an administrative assistant or volunteer?
    • Would it help to participate in a workshop or take a course that might increase your enjoyment of the administrative aspects of your ministry?

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.