Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Joseph C. Rost, PhD, Director; William P. Foster, EdD; Mary W. Scherr, PhD


attitudes, behaviors, female spiritual leaders, gender, Grounded theory, Leadership studies, male spiritual leaders, perception


This study examines the commonalities and differences of male and female spiritual leaders. The research methodology is based on grounded theory. The objectives of this study were: 1. To examine the commonalities of attitude and behavior of selected male and female spiritual leaders. 2. To explore the differences of attitude and behavior of the selected male and female spiritual leaders. 3. To study the perception of God, church, and ministry of the selected male and female spiritual leaders, and to examine the impact of these perceptions on the behavior of the male and female spiritual leaders. 4. To illustrate the patterns of influence that male and female characteristics have on the behavior of the selected spiritual leaders. The researcher conducted personal interviews of ten participants, five female and five male spiritual leaders. The selection of the participants was based on predetermined criteria. An indepth study of each person's leadership was analyzed. In the analysis six categories of influence were developed: influence of the past, present, gender, church and tradition, vision, and self. The responses of the participants were classified within these six categories. Each category was critiqued and analyzed. In the final chapter specific conclusions concerning each of the research objectives were made. The study indicates the goal of spiritual leadership as human development, and the study should interest leaders from the fields of education, business, healthcare, and politics. A new theory of spiritual leadership, based on male and female experiences, was proposed because the influential factors of spiritual leadership in the past have all been male biased. The study recommends developing a new system of theology, a new interpretation of scripture, and new criteria for the administration of the church. The distinction of management and leadership is important in the teaching and training of religious educators, theologians, and ministers. Women should organize themselves to transform the male dominated religions and patriarchal institutions.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access