Effort-Reward Imbalance Theory and Pastors

So today’s research has led me to Effort-Reward Imbalance theory, which is a model for predicting the impact of high-effort and low-reward tasks have on people. It was originally designed with teachers in mind (sometimes called an ERI Questionnaire), it is a fascinating read of how as human beings if we have things that take a ton of work but seem to have little discernible benefit, this is hard on our emotional well-being.

Shocking, I know.

It lends itself very easily to clergy as well. I think it could to almost anyone in a service field where you are primarily dealing with people. It is very difficult for us as human beings to discern how the work we do actually affects other people. I think this may be why St. Paul exhorts students to share all good things with their teachers (Gal. 6). We as human beings need lots of positive feedback.

Enter in social media.

Now we have an artificial or at least superficial way of receiving positive feedback. But instead of giving us satisfaction for where God has placed us (vocation) and receiving help where God gives it, social media creates and addictive loop these little jabs of dopamine try to replace the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” that our Lord gives to us by His Word and spirit.

So here is my question for today: how do we truly encourage our pastors and teachers, build them up, and help them to rejoice that God uses them as instruments for His good and holy purposes?

For Further Reading:

Proeschold-Bell, RJ, A Miles, M Toth, C Adams, BW Smith, and D Toole. “Using Effort-Reward Imbalance Theory to Understand High Rates of Depression and Anxiety Among Clergy.” Journal of Primary Prevention 34, no. 6 (2013): 439–453.

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