Work-family spillover experiences of women in ministry

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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the experiences of women in ministry, and their perceptions on the impact ministry has had on their marriages and families. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Reuben Hill’s (1949; 1958) family stress theory and Murray Bowen’s (1976; 1978) family systemic theory combined with a phenomenological approach to provide a voice to the experiences and values of a previously understudied population of individuals within the field of ministry. The researcher utilized in-depth interviews to collect and analyze data with 13 female participants, who had served in at least one ministry position while being married. All interviews were digitally recorded and then transcribed. After the transcription process, data were coded, and emergent themes were identified. Six major themes, numerous sub-themes, and seven values statements emerged from the data analysis process. This study helps to expand what is known about the impact a career in ministry can have on personal, marital, and familial relationships through the perceptions of the often understudied, yet ever-increasing, population of female clergy. This research has implications for individuals employed or entering vocational ministry, the spouses and families of women in ministry, ministry educators, family life educators, family scientists, employers of women in ministry, and restorative professionals and organizations who work with ministers and their families (i.e. family therapists).

women in ministry, work-life spillover, female clergy, female ministers, ministry families, clergy families, clergy marriages, ministry experiences