Exodus of clergy: The role of leadership in responding to the call

  • Shaun Joynt


Leaders play an important role in clergy’s response to their call. Toxic leadership, also known as the dark side of leadership, negatively influences their decision to remain in full-time pastoral ministry. There is a shortage of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church and a distribution or displacement challenge facing the Protestant church. This shortage adversely affects the future of the church as clergy play an integral part in the preparation of congregants for their works of service (Eph 4:11–12). The purpose of this study was to discover what factors were involved in clergy’s response to the call to full-time pastoral ministry. A practical theological grounded theory approach was used to discover the properties of the category ‘leadership’. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and data were coded using Glaser and Strauss’s grounded theory methodology. The category of ‘leadership’ includes properties such as favouritism, leaders abdicating responsibilities, leaders taking no action/being inactive, leaders ‘labeling’ subordinates, leaders’ ‘unethical’ behaviour, nepotism, poor conflict handling, poor handling of multi-racial issues, being placed on a pedestal, affirming subordinates and autocratic leadership style. Osmer’s descriptive-empirical task was used as a practical theological lens through which to view the category ‘leadership’. The results indicated three responses by clergy to the call to full-time pastoral ministry: not being called in the first place, a dual call (being bi-vocational or ‘seasonal’) and being called but leaving anyway because of, among other factors, toxic leadership. A steward leadership approach is recommended in response to the dark side of leadership.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2072-8050
print ISSN: 0259-9422