The School of Ministry, Theology and Culture is proud to congratulate Nigel Pegram, who recently passed his doctoral dissertation for his DMin with flying colours.
Nigel’s dissertation was entitled “Emotional Intelligence and the Prevention of Ministry Burnout” and his abstract is included below.
Well done Nigel. This is a great achievement!
Abstract: This thesis asks the question, `Can emotional intelligence theory and research be applied to the prevention of ministry burnout?’ Burnout is a significant problem for many in ministry, with a significant financial cost and a tragic human cost. Since both stress and burnout have major emotional components, researchers have turned to the relatively new field of emotional intelligence (EI) to investigate whether individuals with well-developed EI are able to reduce the incidence and severity of burnout. Even though significant research has been done concerning EI in other professions, such as education and medicine, little research has occurred in the context of Christian ministry. The literature further reveals almost no research specifically concerning EI and ministry burnout. Most of the work researching EI and ministry has major flaws, displaying a limited understanding of EI theory and the challenges in its measurement.
Rather than conducting an empirical study, this thesis turns to theory in order toconstruct a basis for future empirical research. A multidisciplinary approach is used,combining psychology and ministry studies. First the theory and models of EI and ofburnout are examined. A clear distinction is made between investigating EI as an abilityand as part of personality. This distinction is grounded in relevant psychometric theory.While noting the potential for investigating EI as an aspect of personality, this thesisfocuses on EI as an ability. Burnout theory is reviewed and the key role of emotions inthe stress and burnout process is identified. Critiques are provided and recommendationsmade for the appropriate tools for ministry research in the areas of EI and burnout.The limitations of these tools are identified and suggestions are provided for addressingthese limitations. Research on EI and burnout is then reviewed, including an assessmentof various intervention studies. This thesis concludes that while many studies fail to adequately distinguish between studying EI as an ability and as an aspect of personality,the evidence favours ability EI as a significant factor in reducing burnout incidence and mitigating its severity.
Having established a theoretical basis for understanding EI and its potential to prevent burnout in the ministry, various burnout risk factors identified in the literature are examined. For each risk, empirical studies and/or theory are used to identify the potential role for EI in the prevention of ministry burnout. Examples of how each risk factor may present in ministry are given and practical implementation suggestions are provided. Suggestions are given for how to incorporate EI awareness and training into ministry training. Hurdles to the adoption of EI training are identified. The discussion concludes by highlighting areas for further research on EI and its potential to prevent burnout in ministry.