Studies Show Humble Clergy Members Have Healthier Congregations

Studies Show Humble Clergy Members Have Healthier Congregations

Research shows that clergy who talk openlyabout their own shortcomings may find it helpful for the overall health of their congregations.

Studies show that while it might not be easy for clergy to do so, people will find pastors more approachable when they admit their human sides.

In a study of 12 priests, participants reported they felt pressure to be models of God. They said they would only look for mental health assistance as a “last resort.”

In another study of 12 diocesan priests ages 32 to 75 in Poland, clergy who had been told from their seminary days that they were the “chosen from among the chosen” felt they had to be models of virtue.

“A priest should just eat, breathe, celebrate Holy Mass, listen to confessions, and pray. He does not have the right to drink beer, socialize, or take a walk with a woman. I once walked with my sister through a village and could hear people bad-mouth,” one priest said.

Researchers analyzing the studies said priests should be able to build friendships and be encouraged to seek help when needed.

“I don’t think there is a more powerful gift they can give to their congregations than admit their own limitations,” said humility scholar Peter Hill, of Biola University.


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Publication date: January 20, 2017