But, according to Forbes magazine, it may not be that ministry makes you crazy, as much as it attracts people who are crazy.
In the 2013 article, The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths, Kelly Clay cited two lists that should give us all pause.
Take note of #8 on the first list. This is – I assure you – totally real.
Jobs that attract the MOST psychopaths
3. Media (Television/Radio)
7. Police Officer
8. Clergy person
10. Civil Servant
Jobs with the LOWEST rates of psychopathy
1. Care aide
6. Charity Worker
8. Creative Artist
We’re More Psycho Than Who!?
No, I don’t expect pastors to start becoming ax murderers. And I’m also not discounting the possibility of a bias against clergy from the original researchers, although I don’t know enough about them to say one way or another.
But I don’t think we should be too quick to shrug it off, either.
Does anyone else find it a little… I don’t know… disturbing that there are only 7 jobs worse than ours on the psycho scale? We’re two steps more likely to be loony than Civil Servants – a category that includes postal carriers, DMV workers and multi-term members of Congress!
This might not be a bad time to have a long overdue conversation. And ask some hard questions. Questions like, “why is the position of Clergy so closely associated with the favorite mental disorder of people on death row?” And “what else do we have in common with the other professions on the list?”
Especially when you consider…
We Kinda Saw This Coming
When I was a young minister-in-training, more than one mature minister told me, “If you can be fulfilled doing anything with your life other than full-time pastoral ministry, do it. The only reason anyone should ever be a pastor is if you are so compelled to do it that you can’t possibly see yourself doing anything else with your life.”
Most ministers I’ve talked to were told something similar. If you weren’t, consider yourself informed now.
No, it’s not as ominous as it sounds. This isn’t like a “get out while you still can!” horror movie cliché. But it’s too close. And too true.
What is Psychopathy?
According to Eric Barker, who wrote the original article that Forbes drew from, psychopathy is defined as
a personality disorder that has been variously described as characterized by shallow emotions (in particular reduced fear), stress tolerance, lacking empathy, coldheartedness, lacking guilt, egocentricity, superficial character, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity and antisocial behaviors such as parasitic lifestyle and criminality.
Uh huh. Glad I’ve never met anyone in ministry with any of those characteristics. Right…?
What Traits Do the People On Each List Have In Common?
I’ve been looking at the two lists and here’s what I see:
The professions MOST LIKELY to attract psychopaths rely on
The professions LEAST LIKELY to attract psychopaths tend to be about
An aside: As someone who has spent a lot of ministry hours visiting people in the hospital, I find it interesting, but not at all surprising, that Surgeons are on the first list, while Nurses and Doctors are on the second one.
Let Me Know What You Think
I also noticed how most of the jobs on the first list match the hats a pastor wears when we’re in Rancher/Manager/Church-Growth mode, while most of the roles on the second list align with the Shepherd/Pastor/Small-Church mode. That’s not a judgment, since we all have to operate in each mode at various times, just an observation.
What do you think about this? Does it tell us something about the current state of pastoral ministry, or does it say more about the way people perceive clergy? If so, where do those perceptions come from? Are they correct? And perhaps most importantly, if these lists are accurate, what can we do to change it?
I’d like to hear some friendly opinions.
Obviously, I’m not worried that we have a bunch of psychopaths pastoring our churches. Serving on deacon boards, maybe. So please don’t use this an excuse to slam any churches, pastors or leaders or worship styles. Or deacon boards. That was a joke. If you didn’t get it, remember that psychopaths tend to be humor-impaired.
Am I completely off-base in bringing these lists up? Or are they worth a moment of thought and conversation?
So what do you think? Is there something we can learn from these lists?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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