The Gallup poll puts the beloved man-of-the-cloth above lawyers, bankers, and journalists but below nurses, doctors, and accountants.
Alas, when I started out in the 1980s we were, as a group, ranked high in trust. Now, we’re in the toilet and swirling downward.
Gallup tracked the downward movement as beginning early in this century, around the time of the Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse scandals.
Lifeway Research takes a look at this, here.
Overall, pastors rank eighth among the 18 professions Gallup asked about in their survey. Clergy trail nurses (79%), medical doctors (62%), pharmacists (58%), high school teachers (53%), police officers (50%), accountants (41%), and judges (39%).
Professions Americans are less likely to trust than pastors include bankers (26%), real estate agents (24%), journalists (23%), lawyers (21%), car salespeople (11%), members of Congress (9%), and telemarketers (6%).
Not to worry, my former esteemed colleagues. You may safely ignore the data if you do this:
Love the Lord. Love your church.
You cannot affect the macro data. You can serve so as to honor and please the Lord and be seen as a humble, loving servant of God and the congregation you serve.
But, if you do stupid stuff, communicate arrogance rather than humility, see yourself as a Twitter hero rather than a selfless servant of the congregation, your trust level ought to be low.
Pastors make mistakes but all the churches I served provided me with a bank account of goodwill on the first day of my tenure with them. I tried to add to the account through my words and actions, my relationships and interactions, with the congregation rather than spend it down wildly with stupid stuff.
The current crop of clergy always sees themselves as having it harder than their predecessors. In the case of respect and trust for their position, I think they are correct in the assumption.
Concern yourself with the group of people God has provided for you to pastor. And, the community in which you pastor. Don’t concern yourself with the (larger) church you hope to pastor one day. Maintain a good reputation in the community. You need not concern yourself with the latest clergy trust data.
Graphic from Gallup.