• Clergy Spirituality: A Spiritual Balance Construct for Cultivating Awareness of the Nature of Clergy Spiritual Well-Being

      Thomas, Audrey Banks; McAfee School of Theology
      This study sought to cultivate awareness of the nature of spiritual well-being and balance amongst clergy persons and provide a framework for addressing clergy spiritual health through the propagation of a spiritual balance construct and associated lexicon. The construct consists of four dimensions that form a framework for evaluating clergy spiritual health. The four construct dimensions were experiential, intellectual, social, and institutional. The intent of the research was to determine if immersion into this spiritual balance construct, to include engagement in associated spiritual practices and introduction of a common lexicon, resulted in increased awareness among clergy persons of the nature of spiritual well-being and balance. The qualitative ethnographic method with pre- and post-instruction semi-structured interviews was employed to conduct the study. Six associate pastors, active in ministry, participated in the research and were instructed on the construct over the course of five one-hour teachings. Each of the construct dimension teaching sessions included an associated spiritual practice exercise. These exercises were lectio divina, Bible and scholarly reading, spiritual service, and one-anothering. The four categories that emerged from the research findings were Defining Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, Importance of Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, Maintaining Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, and Assessing Awareness. Post-instruction research findings indicated that immersion into the spiritual balance construct did indeed beget increased awareness. Recommendations for future research include expanding the spiritual balance construct to include element-specific prescriptive spiritual disciplines. Another recommendation, based on research participant responses, entails exploring the possibility of adding an additional element to the construct that would represent clergy self-care (physical, emotional, mental) and family care. It is also recommended that the tool be used in spiritual direction as the foundation for the covenant agreement between the director and directee. To evangelize the tool, as well as respond to concern for clergy spiritual health, seminars, retreats, and a spiritual formation curriculum inclusive of deep engagement with the spiritual balance construct are recommended.