Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Studies examining how working adults manage the competing demands of family, home and work shed light on the interconnectedness of public and private life. The notion that private life is a refuge separate from work is highly contested, and the experiences of clergy families add further support to such claims. However, while clergy families experience many of the same strains as other families, the relationship between public and private life is noticeably impacted by the inclusion of religion, adding further complications to the process of balancing multiple responsibilities. In this study, I explore the complex relationship between these aspects of everyday life among twenty-three married Protestant pastors and their respective spouses, considering how religion plays a part in the ongoing tensions contemporary families face in dealing with the demands of work, home and family life.

I begin by exploring the significance of a spiritual calling to ministry, an important religious element clergy articulate as a dominant motivator in their work. While there are many challenges in ministry, clergy willingly embrace these difficult elements as a means of reinforcing their sense of call, in turn emphasizing the positive rewards embedded within each of the challenges. In addition, families are also integrated into the church on several levels, emphasizing the all-encompassing nature of vocational ministry. I argue that these families do not balance conflicting responsibilities but instead represent a new, progressive model of weaving together lifestyle and identity within a calling to vocational ministry. However, pastors and spouses remain constrained by powerful ideologies that create tension in reconciling the deep and complex integration of public and private life. Although they point out the many benefits of ministry work, the positive impact on family life and the way churches serve as "alternative" employers, clergy families simultaneously struggle with dominant images of work, family, religion and identity and their own divergence or connection to such ideas.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Sociology Commons