Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Traditionally, the ministry has had a reputation for being a very lonely profession. Although widely acknowledged in the literature, no empirical research seems to be available investigating the nature of this alleged problem. On the basis of information gathered from the literature and fran a number of interviews with several pastors in the Grand Forks area, the present study set out to investigate ministerial loneliness by qualitatively assessing and comparing a) the nature of the friendships of a population of pastors with those of matched control laymen, and b) the amount of discomfort aroused by the presence of those pastors vs. of the controls. Such discomfort is discussed as significant, for the implications it has for the pastor's ability to form friendships with men in his congregation .

The questionnaire format of data gathering was used. Pastors and controls from 12 congregations responded to a questionnaire to provide a qualitative description of their closest friendship. A second questionnaire was given to a larger group of respondents from each congregation, half responding with the pastor and half with the control person (Mr. X) as their focus. This questionnaire provided a description of some normative restrictions which the respondent imposes on the focus person (to be analyzed at a later stage), the strength of the friendship he has with the focus person, and the amount of discomfort he experiences in the focus person's presence. The pastors were also asked to respond to this questionnaire as they would expect these men to respond.

Correlational analyses, multiple regression and matched t-tests were conducted on the data. The results showed that there was no difference between the closest friendships of the pastors vs. those of the controls. There was a significant difference between pastors and controls in terms of the pedestal effect: respondents reported significantly greater discomfort aroused by the pastors' presence than by the controls'. However, neither this pedestal effect on the average, nor the pastors' perception of the pedestal effect were able to account for any significance in the variability of the pastors' closest friendships or of their average friendships in the congregation. Further, averaging across congregations yielded no significance in the correlation between the pedestal effect and friendship strength of respondents toward the focus person. However, when looking at these same correlations for each individual respondent, the relationship was significantly negatively correlated for those men responding to the pastor. This was not true for control s.

The findings were interpreted and discussed in terms of their implications for understanding the problem of ministerial loneliness. Recommendations for future research were suggested. It was concluded that while the pedestal effect does not make a difference with pastors' friendships overall, it does have implications for his ability to establish such relationships with certain individuals. Also significant is the finding that this is a problem with which the layman does not have to contend.