My early interest in burnout among pastors was focused on the personality traits that may contribute to burnout. This happens to be one of the most often studied phenomenon or cause of burnout among pastors. Many of the studies have found that differences in clergy personality were key factors to burnout (Francis, Hills, & Kaldor, 2009). Francis, Robbins, & Wulff (2012) concluded that personality is an “important factor in establishing predisposition for professional burnout and poor work-related psychological health” (p. 114).
Studies on the correlation of personality and burnout have consistently found that extraversion and neuroticism are key measures of positive and negative affect (Francis et al., 2012). Bakker, Van der Zee, Lewig, & Dollard (2006) came to similar conclusions when studying personality factors and burnout among volunteer counselors who were caring for terminally ill patients.
I hope this has increased your curiosity into the challenges faced by pastors and congregations, alike. This understanding may help pastors and congregations thinking about their next pastorate or pastor. Well, more to come later …
Bakker, A.B., Van der Zee, K.I., Lewig, K.A., & Dollard, M.F. (2006). The relationship between the big five personality factors and burnout: A study among volunteer counselors. The Journal of Social Psychology, 146(1), 31-50.
Francis, L.J., Hills, P., & Kaldor, P. (2009). The Oswalt clergy burnout scale: Reliability, factor structure and preliminary applications among Australian clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 57, 243-252.
Francis, L.J., Robbins, M., & Wulff, K. (2012). Are clergy serving yoked congregations more vulnerable to burnout? A study among clergy serving in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Stress and Health, 29, 113-116.