It’s Official. I’m Hitting Pause on My Ph.D. for a Year

I received word yesterday that the Ph.D. Committee voted to approve my request for “Excused Program Leave” beginning in January 2021 and lasting until January 2022.

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, 2020 has been a particularly difficult year.

Attempting to complete my “Barth, Bonhoeffer, and the Bible” dissertation has taken a toll on my mental health as I ran into some major research and writing roadblocks right before and during the COVID pandemic.

Through therapy, medication, my amazing wife, and other means, the Lord has proven faithful to provide for me and my (growing) family during these difficult days.

Nevertheless, after a lot of prayer and counsel, I’ve decided that stepping away from my dissertation for a year is the wise call right now. It’s the best chance I have to either (1) return and finish my dissertation while retaining my health or (2) discern that getting my Ph.D., at least at this point in my life, is not what the Lord is calling me to do.

At the end of the day, whether I’m “Rev. Dr.” or just “Rev.,” I want to put my time and talents to good use for the sake of Christ’s Church.

To that end, I would appreciate your prayers for the year ahead as I attempt to prioritize healing and ministry. I’m preaching again this weekend as Advent begins, and it’s a good reminder that (1) I love the Church and (2) I need to learn how to “wait for the Lord.”

By joshuapsteele

The Rev. Dev. I solve problems with a pastor's heart for people and a programmer's eye for detail. Learn more at

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