Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Spiritual Care and Counselling


Martin Luther University College

First Advisor

Rev Dr Brice Balmer

Advisor Role

Assistant Professor, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary


This hermeneutical phenomenological study explores the lived experience of shame in relation to the presence or absence of God in the caregiving process of Stephen Ministry. Stephen Ministers are trained Christian caregivers who walk side-by-side with those who are struggling in a congregation. Stephen Ministers are trained by Stephen Leaders who have completed the Stephen Ministry Leadership training program. A concern for an assurance of quality of care led to the research question: what is the lived experience of unacknowledged or unprocessed shame in the presence or absence of God experienced by Stephen Ministers who offer Christian care? The foundations of the study rest in the four domains of the literature reviewed: shame and image of God, personality type, faith development, and spirituality. The results revealed an inter-relationship between the lived experience of shame, as the disintegration of one’s felt sense of self in relation to a dysregulating other, and the presence or absence of God. Future research is recommended in each domain of research that would lead to a clearer understanding of shame in the process of Christian care.

Keywords: shame, image of God, spirituality, personality type, Stephen Ministry.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season