Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Reed, Don


The purpose of this study is to develop a theory regarding the level of anxiety in the church family system when implementing organic leadership development. The researcher analyzed three biblical leaders’ developments while considering the effects on family system: Joseph’s stages of leadership development, the methods Jesus used in developing his disciples into leaders, and the leadership gift mix demonstrated by Peter and Barnabas. To further develop a theory, relevant literature of leadership development and family systems was explored. Focusing on the work of J. Robert Clinton, the researcher explored the development of leadership and gift mix. Then researcher considered the concepts of family systems theory from the writings of Edwin H. Freidman, Ronald W. Richardson and Peter Steinke, particularly related to heightened anxiety. A qualitative and quantitative, grounded theory study was conducted using surveys and interviews of church leaders participating in a retreat to develop personal vision and major role statements. The study resulted in a grounded theory for implementing organic leadership development in small churches: When leaders are being shaped by God, discovering their gift-mix and entering new stages of leadership development, the family system in which they exist will experience times of heightened anxiety. The developing leader’s ability or inability to handle this anxiety, by remaining non-anxious and self-differentiated, will allow further development of the leader while encouraging a healthy family system. If the leadership team is able to anticipate heightened anxiety, they can use methods such as a covenant of behavior to avoid conflict or sabotage and increase the possibility of effective change. In healthy leadership teams with low levels of anxiety, implementing Organic Leadership Development positively influences the family system. The principles of this study provide guidelines for implementing organic leadership development that promotes healthy family systems.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis