Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

B. J. McMichael

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Ben Ries

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Jon Schwiethale



Scientific literature in the social sciences is rife with studies on burnout and how this phenomenon affects those in various occupations, especially the helping professions. Clergy members are not immune to the influence and effects of burnout. The rate at which clergy members are affected by burnout is evidenced in the documented shortage of clergy currently serving churches and the paucity of ministers going into ministry. The purpose of this study was not to reiterate the effects of burnout on clergy members, but to discover and to explore those factors which promote longevity in ministry. This study used an interpretivist paradigm that lends itself to dealing with the subjectivity of studies in the social sciences. The researcher chose an inductive qualitative interview approach and used Bronfenbrenner’s theory of the ecology of human development as a theoretical framework. The participants in the study were recruited and contacted via phone and email messages. Online interviews via the Zoom platform were conducted, each lasting between 1 and 1.5 hours. These interviews were transcribed using the digital program and were then manually analyzed using coding and theming methods. The study sample (N = 12) comprised clergy members currently serving various churches in the American Southwest. They were men who had served a minimum of 10 years as pulpit ministers in churches of Christ, preferably with a single congregation. The results were found to be largely consistent with the extant literature on the subject. Four key areas of orientation were readily demarcated. These included the minister’s sense of divine calling, his self-care practices, his social supportive networks, and several environmental factors that powerfully influence the minister’s health, well-being, and his determination or propensity to stay in ministry.

Keywords: burnout, attrition, Bronfenbrenner, divine calling, self-care, social supportive networks

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.