Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Stanley E. Patterson
The membership of the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventist has surged to over 50,000 over the ten year period, 1997-2006; however, the professional Adventist clergy group has experienced a decrease over the same time period—from thirty-three to twenty-seven ministers (Guyana Conference of SDA Statistics). The ratio of clergy to laity is, thus, 1:1853, where it was previously 1:1039. Consequently, ministers in the Guyana Conference of SDA are likely to become victims of burnout—and its compassion fatigue form—as they encounter the demands of ministry.
Methods and Procedures
Following the case study method of qualitative research, the researcher utilized Eisner’s (1998) self as an instrument theory. He suggested that there is valuable information to be gleaned when self is utilized, since each person’s life experiences are unique. Thus, self as an instrument is not a disadvantage but an asset to research. In addition, Eisner (1998, p. 34) states that “the self is the instrument that engages in the situation and makes sense of it.” This project is designed to be utilized as a seminar consisting of six presentations for ministers. The researcher’s personal experience-validated by collegial conversations was coupled with information gleaned from significant literature for the development of this seminar. The presentations, as they seek to educate ministers about these phenomena are accompanied by activities for participants to become involved in a practical way.
The discussion and investigation of this phenomenon----burnout, defined by Freudenberger and Richelson (1980) as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress,, and its compassion fatigue form-which is associated with the physical, emotional/psychological, and mental price caregivers pay when attending to others who have experienced trauma or emotional aches (Figley, 1995a)— revealed that ministers fall prey as a result of the simple fact that most people turn to their faith or religious beliefs when they are confronted with crisis or traumatic circumstances. Thus, clergy are called upon in these times of personal, familial, and community stress. Also, ministers are faced with job stress as a result of the demands of the work defined by such factors as one minister pastoring numerous churches/members owing to the migration of many ministers. i After interaction with the information shared in each seminar, ministers will be more aware of the reality and dangers of these phenomena, and will be better equipped to prevent the same.
On the whole, the call to ministry is neither fleeting nor temporary; instead, it is permanent. It is the service of a lifetime. Health—both physical and spiritual—is needed for a minister to endure in this lifetime of service. S/he therefore cannot afford to work without pacing her/himself to finish the race. For this reason, the ministry calls for wise use of resources, not only those available in the form of human personnel who may be utilized through team ministry, but also the minister’s energy. As was noted earlier, this project contains tools that will equip the minister to be effective in ministry, while maintaining longevity; thus, burnout and compassion fatigue can be readily recognized and addressed so that ministers can continue to serve God’s children effectively.
Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy--Job stress; Burn out (Psychology)--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Inter-American Division. Caribbean Union Conference. Guyana Conference; Clergy--Guyana--Job stress
McKenzie, David O., "A Program for Prevention and Intervention of Compassion Fatigue and Burnout Among Pastors in the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists" (2010). Project Documents. 516.
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