The U.S. Army Chaplaincy is charged with the unique and sacred mission to “Care for the Soul of the Army” ─an Army with an increasingly pluralistic culture with respect to religious and spiritual beliefs. The purpose of this study was to explore the presence and degree of servant leadership behaviors in active duty chaplains, as an initial step in discerning the potential of servant leadership as a conceptual framework to help the chaplaincy provide effective pastoral care within a diverse organization. The study used an embedded mixed-methods design to capture quantitative data regarding servant leadership behaviors in 250 individual chaplains and their perceptions of demonstrated servant leadership by the chaplaincy as a whole, using Sendjaya et al's. (2008, 2017) six behavioral-dimension SLBS-35 and SLBS-6 measurements. The study also captured qualitative data to provide richer descriptions of chaplains’ perceptions of their servant-oriented pastoral leadership role as the Army’s religious-spiritual leaders. Quantitative findings revealed individual chaplains’ strongest alignment with the behavioral dimensions of Transcendental Spirituality, Responsible Morality, and Voluntary Subordination, and comparatively the lowest alignment for Authentic Self. The chaplaincy as a whole received highest levels of alignment for behaviors in Transcendental Spirituality, Responsible Morality, and Transforming Influence, with Authentic Self receiving the lowest alignment mirroring the self-assessment ratings. Qualitative findings revealed chaplains’ perceptions about pastoral characteristics and behaviors they believed critical for effective pluralistic ministry, as well as the role of their religious convictions in providing pluralistic care. Triangulation of data revealed that while chaplains had less agreement about the chaplaincy’s demonstration of behaviors in Voluntary Subordination and Authentic Self, they individually emphasized however the importance of pastoral behaviors that correspond with those two dimensions. Conclusions include the predominance of three of the six servant leadership dimensions and identifiable differences between self-assessment ratings and perceptions of the overall chaplaincy servant leadership behaviors. Personal faith-based convictions strongly influence how these participating chaplains practice within the pluralistic military environment. Recommendations include exploring the differences between religious and spiritual support in a pluralistic context, and developing a chaplain-specific pastoral leadership conceptual framework to explain the relationships among leadership behaviors and pastoral practices.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

United States--Armed Forces--Chaplains; Leadership; Pastoral care

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kay Davis