Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Donald Hicks


Pastoral Tenure, Pastoral Health, Pastoral Encouragement, Long-Tenured Pastors, Spiritual Disciplines, Encouraging Pastors


Christianity | Practical Theology | Religion


Pastors face a unique set of challenges as well as fierce spiritual warfare. Statistics reveal many pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention change churches every few years. In contrast, a minority of pastors withstand the difficulties and challenges, enjoying a long tenure in their churches. Studies also show a positive correlation between the long tenure of pastors and church health, which should necessarily encourage pastors to weather the storms and remain in their churches for the long haul. This project will focus on senior or lead pastors of Southern Baptist churches who have served at the same church for more than ten years or retired from a church in which they served for more than ten years. Besides, the pastors in focus will be currently serving or retired from a church considered "healthy" based on industry standards. Through interviews and surveys, this project will identify the key habits and attitudes of the long-tenured pastors. Of particular interest are the spiritual discipline and holy habits of these pastors and their typical pattern of response to challenges and difficulties common in ministry. Many pastors need encouragement and guidance, and this project is intended to offer insight into the lives of the men who have remained at their post faithfully for many years, not giving in to the temptation to pursue "greener pastures," and allowing their example to serve as instructive for others.