Giving it All You’ve Got: How Daily Self-Sacrifice and Self-Esteem Regulate the Double-Edged Effects of Callings

Michael E. Clinton, Neil Conway, Jane Sturges, Alison McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Occupational callings are a combination of passion and enjoyment with a sense of duty and destiny. Pursuing a calling is a double-edged sword, sometimes beneficial and sometimes detrimental, but it is unclear why it has contradictory effects. We show how daily self-sacrifice behaviour explains these effects and reveals how workers regulate their callings on a daily basis. We argue that people with intense callings use self-sacrifice to attain daily calling goals. However, this has a cost to their well-being in terms of daily emotional exhaustion. Diary data from church ministers and chaplains reveals that daily self-sacrifice behavior mediates the positive effects of calling intensity, via felt obligations, on both daily calling goal attainment and emotional exhaustion. Within-person, we show how state self-esteem further regulates this double-edged process both within a day and from one day to the next. Low morning state self-esteem promotes daily self-sacrifice and is indirectly related to higher calling goal attainment and emotional exhaustion via daily self-sacrifice. But morning self-esteem is itself predicted positively by the previous days’ goal attainment and negatively by emotional exhaustion. Therefore, state self-esteem in conjunction with daily self-sacrifice behaviour and its double-edged effects represents a daily regulation mechanism for self-sacrifice in callings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Early online date22 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2023


  • Calling
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Self-esteem
  • Emotional Exhaustion
  • Goal Attainment

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