LEADING LARGE WITHOUT LOSING SOUL: EQUIPPING SENIOR PASTORS OF LARGE CONGREGATIONS TO DISCOVER, NURTURE, AND LEAD FROM THE TRUE SELF
In the context of large church leadership, the success of a congregation is often associated with the public persona of its senior pastor. The result is a very real temptation on the part of the senior pastor to place a high premium on this public persona and leverage the better part of his or her energies in cultivating and preserving it at all costs. Gone unexamined or unattended, this unique dynamic makes it challenging for senior pastors of large congregations to maintain true integrity and lead from a position of authentic selfhood. In a context that often enables narcissistic tendencies of ego-preservation and promotion, it was the primary goal of this project to discover what deliberate practices of personal soul-care would empower and equip senior pastors of large congregations to continually lead from a position of authentic selfhood. To accomplish this task, traits were first identified that were characteristic of large church pastors who led from the true self. Then, five senior pastors of large congregations from across the U.S. were selected and interviewed in one-on-one, guided interviews, to determine what deliberate behaviors and practices aided them in their own personal soul care. The resulting data revealed seven themes that emerged as common among all five pastors. The themes were: A Way of Life, Sabbath-keeping, Personal Accountability and Community, Spiritual Practices, Physical Exercise, Calendar-management, and Staff Community. After introducing the background problem in detail, this thesis traces the theological, biblical, and historical foundations of this quest for authentic selfhood. It then details the particular challenges to this quest, as found within the context of large church leadership. The seven themes that emerged from the project are then described in detail. Finally, the thesis concludes with four practical pathways for future development and work. These pathways are: future writing projects, podcasts, retreats, and staff development.
King, Shaun Michael