Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Clergy

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Looking for the perfect occupation for your character? Check out our Occupation Thesaurus, starting with this entry on Clergy Members.

Below is a sample list of ideas to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.

To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)

Occupation: Clergy

Overview: Clergy is a general term referring to someone in a position as the head of an organized religious group. Pastor, bishop, priestess, rabbi, and imam are some of the titles used to indicate this leadership role in various religions.

The roles will differ depending on the tenets of the associated religion. Main duties of a clergy member may include interpreting sacred texts, educating followers, ministering to their followers and others within the community, and seeing to certain religious duties, such as offering sacrifices, intervening with…

Some clergy are paid full time while others work on a part-time or voluntary basis. Depending on the structure..

Necessary Training: Some religions require their leaders to attend an affiliated religious institution for a certain period of time and receive a degree before starting work. Others might require their clergy to go through an apprentice-like situation where…

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Charm, empathy, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking…

Helpful Character Traits: Bold, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, empathetic, enthusiastic, extroverted, honest, honorable…

Sources of Friction: Not being paid enough to support oneself, bureaucratic red tape that keeps one from doing the important aspects one’s job, disagreements with parishioners or higher-ups about doctrine, politics within the religious organization, conflict with the public when the tenets of one’s beliefs go against cultural norms, clashes with traditional parishioners over…

People They Might Interact With: Parishioners or followers, officials within the religious hierarchy, those that they serve outside of the “church” (the homeless, social pariahs, the poor, etc.), members of the media…

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Spirituality and being true to oneself are big parts of being fully actualized. A clergy member who’s required to sacrifice their personal beliefs and priorities in the course of their job will find themselves…
  • Esteem and Recognition: Most people in this occupation are living a life somewhat characterized by self-sacrifice; they’re seeking to fulfill a purpose higher than themselves. But if they care very much about the opinions of others…
  • Love and Belonging: A clergy member who too-strictly interprets the religious laws and puts them above true love and caring for others—sacrificing love in the pursuit of justice—may find…
  • Physiological Needs: In many cultures, both past and present, the practice of certain religions has been outlawed, and those breaking the law face jail time, physical abuse, banishment, or…

Common Work-Related Settings: Church, community center, emergency room, forest, funeral home, graveyard, hospital (interior), hospital room, medieval castle (speculative), military base, police station, prison cell, wake, wedding reception

Twisting the Stereotype: While some clergy members adhere to their religious beliefs to the point of hateful and abusive behavior, this practice has decreased significantly and is much less prevalent than it used to be. Historically, this was common, but it isn’t so much anymore. Take this into account when writing your character.

Also, the hypocritical, two-faced sexual deviant has become a common trope…

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?

Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.

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The Occupation Thesaurus is yet another priceless author resource released in this series…” ~ Brandi MacCurdy

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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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[…] https://writershelpingwriters.net/2018/05/occupation-thesaurus-entry-clergy/ “People They Might Interact With: Parishioners or followers, officials within the religious hierarchy, those that they serve outside of the “church” (the homeless, social pariahs, the poor, etc.), members of the media, other staff members, local clergy members, strangers seeking something the religion may be able to provide (peace, absolution, knowledge, community, physical care, etc.)” I try and highlight a different feature these entries show. They’re incredibly detailed so if you need an occupation for your character, look here! […]