Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joshua Henson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Peters

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles E. Cole


Pastors are increasingly taking on a CEO style of leadership to lead their churches (Goodmanson, 2005; Maddox, 2012; Whitaker, 2013). Pastors have made this shift at the expense of a shepherd mindset, seemingly creating a dichotomy between styles (Tara, 2020; Whitaker, 2013). Consequently, scholars have identified an increasing trend in pastoral burnout (Fee, 2018; Hessel, 2015; Samushonga, 2021). The current study evaluated the pastoral role and its responsibility from a place of Scripture, while also considering popular current leadership trends. The findings revealed a clear shepherd metaphor arc throughout Scripture, beginning in Psalm 23 and ending in 1 Peter 5. The pinnacle of these passages is the Good Shepherd passage of John 10, where Jesus provided a contrast in leadership styles (Carson, 2015; Keener, 1993; Laniak, 2006; Whitacre, 1999). By using John 10 as a focus of the socio-rhetorical method made popular by Robbins (1996a, 1996b) and Henson et al. (2020), 10 critical characteristics of shepherding useful to the church today were identified: spiritual feeding, protection, care, inspection, familiarity, selflessness, willingness, modeling, stewardship, and leadership. Moreover, nine senior pastors were interviewed as part of a phenomenological study to compare their experiences with these 10 themes. The findings of this study provided a clear shepherding model, its foundation within Scripture, its ramifications and implementation within real-world experiences, and provided a firm argument that leadership should be secondary to the role of shepherding for the pastor. A thorough discussion of this new shepherd construct is provided as well as practical implications.