Out of Ur blog posted some results of a poll ranking honesty among professions by Gallup. Ashamedly, pastors rank below police officers. This, in my opinion, speaks more to the dreadful reputation of pastors than to the seeming good reputation of police. Others with a higher rank than pastors were:
The question, “Who is more honest than pastors?” is posed as a title of the post. I’m more interested in the why, and suspect that I may have an answer, one which I’ve alluded to in a previous post. In considering the ranking of other professions as a means to understanding that of clergy it may be that clergy have a unique dependency to their clients which the others don’t. All those mentioned above provide a trusted service, against which results to the clients may be measured. Clients seek out the services of each professional addressing specific deficiencies, and aware of their specific expertise. Pastors, on the other hand, provide a kind of nebulous service by comparison, and one for which results aren’t as simple to quantify.
Pastors are uniquely dependent upon their clients both in terms of results and support. Every other professional either charges a fee in relation to their service or their service is provided by some sort of defined group funding, as in taxation. Pastors generally don’t charge individual fees for the services they provide, but are supported through voluntary funding by the churches which support them. Often, the larger the number of people in a church the larger the funding the church has from which to draw. It also often means the greater the responsibility the pastor has to shepherd the flock, and hence the larger the salary the pastor has as compensation.
Pastors, it seems to me, are in a no-win situation when it comes to the subject of honesty for the simple reason that their performance is often considered by the wrong metric. Generally, the larger the church, the more members it has, the more successful the pastor is considered to be. Seldom does the consideration of the spiritual condition or the spiritual health, if you will, of the individual members become a factor in the informal evaluation of a pastor’s performance. Honesty suffers most when integrity to purpose is broken, and the true purpose of a pastor has more to do with spiritual condition than anything humanity measures as successful. In my opinion, modern pastors appear less honest than other professions if only because theirs is a spiritual vocation corrupted by secular standards. The “rat race” of quantifiable achievement through human ability shouldn’t have anything to do with being a pastor, but dishonesty becomes an issue when spiritual values are compromised and attenuates the true nature of being one.