Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Senapatiratne, Tim


For Japanese pastors facing a disaster, exercising resiliency and self-care is an enormous task as clergy deal with varying disaster-related attitudes, impact within the church and overwhelming need and opportunity in the community. In addition to surveying seminary students, pastors who experienced the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake as well as pastors who lived through the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and seminary professors who train next generation pastors were interviewed using co-inquiry and a 360-degree data gathering approach. Results showed that managing stress, loss, relationships, compassion fatigue and burnout were common challenges. The data indicated that practicing resilient leadership entails processing the relational reality of pain and suffering in the context of disaster ministry. Maintaining integrity of call and walk to serve in community was a significant discovery. Research also revealed that those who thrive in ministry exemplify courage, emotional and cultural intelligence, Sabbath rhythms and mutual care. In the face of disasters, pastors discovered the reality of pain and suffering in ministry which impacts their understanding of and relationship with God, themselves and others. The process that leads clergy to practice both compassionate disaster care and resilient self-care is an oscillating journey between attentiveness to self and care for others. It begins with understanding the pain of God-sacrificial love fulfilled in his son's death on the cross-as a bridge to the understanding of pain for the pastor and which gives a relational definition to sin. Examining the false self, spiritual pride, sin as disengaged relationship and brokenness, guides the pastor in facing pain and humility character traits needed to develop personal resiliency through self-care. This pain draws the pastor into intimacy with God which avails him to power and influence to empower others, similar to Nehemiah’s disaster leadership model. In this journey, pastors come to understand the loss of hope, a deep form of pain that requires forgiveness, renewal and healing. In the self-care process, clergy implement boundaries, stop work and celebrate rest, seek out community and mentors, practice spiritual disciplines and assessment. They look for friends and a confidant for transparency, walk in cohort community, network with other disaster caregivers and focus on smaller communities within their church.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis