Strengthening Pastoral Identity in Army Chaplains: The Effect of Spiritual Mentoring on Mentors as a Way to Develop Pastoral Identity
Army Chaplains are in a struggle between various identities within in a system that reinforces and rewards those identities outside the historic pastoral role. This thesis explores how spiritual mentoring can foster, maintain, and revitalize pastoral identity in mid-level chaplains serving as mentors. The author defines and explains pastoral identity; shows that spiritual mentoring is a biblical and necessary aspect of pastoral ministry; and explores the possibility of strengthening pastoral identity in Army chaplains through spiritual mentoring. However, unlike most approaches to spiritual mentoring for pastoral formation, the goal of this project was not primarily the formation of the mentee, but rather the formation of the mentor. Chaplains who serve as mentors are engaging in a historically pastoral activity which will clarify and strengthen their own pastoral identity. The project engaged mid-level and junior chaplains in short-term spiritual mentoring relationships and measured indicators of pastoral identity through a sequential mixed methods approach (pre-surveys, post-surveys, and interviews). Overall, both quantitative and qualitative data supports spiritual mentoring as a method for identity change and formation within the Army Chaplain Corps.