Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Deborah Loyd, DMin
Rick Millikin, DMin
Jacqueline Bland, DMin
The risk of burnout threatens anyone working in human-service vocations but presents an especially volatile risk for those in ministry. This threat is compounded by the confluence of technological advances, performance-based identities, and a frugality mentality prevalent within nonprofit organizations, including churches and parachurch organizations. Since the early 1980s, the three common elements of burnout have been observed and analyzed in the field of psychology: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. However, most approaches to treating burnout only seek to mitigate symptomology without treating the underlying cause.
This dissertation explores the development of a burnout culture in the United States, which has consistently impacted Christian churches and parachurch organizations. Next, it provides a brief overview of medical and psychological approaches to mitigating burnout. Last, it presents a biblical solution to ministry burnout that is grounded in a biblical anthropology. This dissertation posits that burnout occurs when people extend themselves beyond their human limitations, accepting the ancient, Edenic temptation that one can “be like God.”
Thus, to remedy ministry burnout, ministers must choose to live within healthy limits, avoiding temptations toward omnipotence, omniscience, and independence. Finally, this dissertation offers an artifact, namely a spiritual formation program, to combat ministry burnout that utilizes an interdisciplinary approach, founded upon a biblical anthropology. This artifact focuses on honoring human limitations as a way to combat burnout resulting in vibrant, effective, enduring ministry. This dissertation gleans information and lived experiences from ministers from various nonprofit organizations in Portland, Oregon. The majority of burnout research and focus of application pertain to the ministry of Portland Rescue Mission, the largest Christian nonprofit homeless ministry in Portland, OR.
Abaria, Dominic, "Combating Ministry Burnout By Honoring Human Limitations" (2021). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 427.