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The effects of an epiphany on leadership in religious contexts

Megan Rust
In cooperation with Dr. Kerry Priest of Kansas State University and Dr.
Justin Greenleaf and Kaley Klaus of Fort Hays State University

Mission Statement
Through the creation and dispersion of my research project on the
effects of an epiphany on leadership in religious contexts, I plan to
expand the breadth of knowledge in the field of spiritual leadership
research.
Description of the problem

Overview of the issue

The idea of a spiritual calling has been an idea in Christianity since the
inception of religion. The apostles were called by God to serve as ministers of
the word after Christ died, and a calling from God is the reason many Bible
heroes do what they do. Kings and queens ruling over countries in medieval
ages who believed that they were divinely called to make their decisions
continued this idea of a calling. In the modern era, the idea of a religious
calling is often attributed to people who serve in the church. There is little
research into the idea of what a calling means to leaders in the church in the
modern era where people are no longer forced into the position.

SWOT analysis

Strengths

The true strength behind my project is my passion for the topic. I have
been involved in the Christian faith since I was six and I have had multiple
examples of religious leadership on my journey of faith. These leaders have
shaped my worldview and have shown me how to lead a Godly life. I have
also been called to ministry and I believe that this project is an incredible way
to examine this pull toward being a religious leader. The church has always
been my home and learning more about how God works in the church will
continue to fascinate me for the rest of my life. This thirst for knowledge will
help me to research responsibly, steadily, and extensively for the answers I
am seeking.

Weaknesses

As a sophomore in college, I rarely have time to sleep a full eight hours


a night. This creates a weakness in my project because I may not be able to
commit enough time to my project to create a quality product. I also have no
background in scholarly research or the research process for testing
qualitative theories. In my time as a student I have never had to truly
examine a research paper or attempt to comprehend its meaning. Any
experience I have with research has been quantitative data and testing small
hypothesis in small-scale inquiries. This lack of experience will make it
difficult to create a high quality result worthy of being published. The learning
curve for my project is extremely steep and I will have to learn by making
mistakes and attempting to fix them in a blind manner rather than by
drawing on past experiences in research.

Opportunities
This research project provides me the opportunity to fill a gap in the
knowledge about epiphany experiences and their effect on spiritual leaders.
After looking at other research done on the topic, it looks like there are
extremely few people who have ventured into this avenue of research. The
lack of understanding on the topic of an epiphany moment allows me the
freedom to collect data in a more creative manner and explore the topic
without the restraint of past research looming over me. I have an experienced
mentor who is passionate about teaching me the research process provides
an incredible opportunity for both my project and myself as an academic. Dr.
Priest has an incredible base of knowledge about research in leadership and
spiritual leadership in practice. Her knowledge base provides me with
opportunity to learn about research in a safe space where I can ask questions
without the fear of looking stupid. The quality of my paper will increase
greatly from the mentorship of Dr. Priest.

Threats

The threats to my process impact multiple parts of my research


project. The first part of the process is an application to the Internal Review
Board in order to conduct interviews with study participants. This is a threat
because there is a possibility of being rejected and having no way to do my
research and actually collect data. The second threat to my project comes
from the participants themselves. I plan on collecting my data during my
winter break from school and this is often a busy time for church leaders.
Christmas and New Years is incredibly stressful for the entire church staff and
they may not be able to find time to help me. The participants I find may also
have difficulty working with me until the end of the research project.
Scholarly research is a long process and life may get in the way for them,
which would present a serious issue when finishing my paper.

Past and current attempts to address the issue

Past Attempts

I could find no previous attempts to answer this question.

Current Attempts

I am the only one currently attempting to answer this question.

Possible consequences if the problem is not addressed

The only consequences I can think of are personal. The research is not
being addressed by anyone else and I am not sure if anyone is counting on
my research to change anything major in his or her life. Personally, I am
invested in this project and I think this information is important to understand
and share with others. If I do not finish this project I will be disappointed in
myself.
I. Vision Statement

My paper has been circulating for a few years through academia because
it was published in a scholarly journal after its completion. People have used
my paper as a resource to complete their academic papers for college classes
quite a few times and have understood my presentation of the information I
have presented. People have read my research and have gained a knowledge
and understanding of what a religious calling means to religious leaders and
how they became involved in the sector of spiritual leadership.

An eighteen-year-old girl is considering her future career and academic


major choices as she looks for a college to attend. She has been involved in
church since she was little and she is considering working in a faith based
organization as a career, but she has no idea if that is Gods plan for her or
not. She asks her pastor if there is any way she can figure this out and he
recommends that she reads the paper I published. He believes that it is a
good perspective on what it means to be called into religious leadership and
how different people have felt a calling.

This girl ends up realizing that she has been called to be a youth pastor.
She goes to seminary and becomes a youth pastor. My paper helped her
discover her calling and understand that this calling was not just a vague
inclination of an option she thought she could pursue. She has turned out to
be an excellent youth pastor and has positively impacted many people who
have come through her churchs youth program. She has referred my paper
to a few people who have had questions much like hers and this has helped
them make choices much like hers or discover that they are not called to
religious leadership.

IV. Plan Formation

Objective 01: Determine research topic


Date to
Person be
Action Responsi Complet
Step ble ed Resourc Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): es: tion:

Takean ConsiderwhatI MeganRust September Pen,paper,


interest ampassionate 20 quietspace
inventory aboutandthink
aboutwhatIwant
tolearnmore
aboutbuthave
troublefinding
informationabout
Choosebroad Lookatresultsof MeganRust September Interest
topicfor interestinventory 24 inventory,
consideration andchoosetopic quietspace
fromlistthatI
wouldliketo
studyindepthfor
therestofthe
year

Beginlooking Lookfor MeganRust September Library


forgapinthe informationon Librarystaff 24 resources,
literature generaltopicin computer,
libraryandfind cardcatalog
topicsthathave
incomplete
information

Meetwith Meetwithmentor MeganRust September Zoomlink,


mentor tolearnhowto KerryPriest 26 computer,
doeffective quietspace
researchand
understandthe
effectofresearch
intheacademic
field

Objective 02: Begin research process


Date to
Person be
Action Responsi Complet
Step ble ed Resourc Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): es: tion:

Decidetype Discover MeganRust October11 Computer,


ofresearchI differenttypesof Internet,
wantto researchmethods KerryPriest,
conduct andchoosehowI Zoom,
wanttopresent Teachers
mytopic whohave
done
research

Lookup Findoutwhois MeganRust October14 Computer


relevant relevantinmy
authorsand fieldofresearch
expertson andwhat
mytopic materialsthey
havepresented
Create Choosean MeganRust October14 Computer,
systemfor appropriateway Notebook
organizing toorganizeand
research recordmynotes
notes tousethemina
meaningfulway
laterinthe
process

Meetwith Meetwith MeganRust October17 Librarian,


librarianto librarianand Library
startfinding discussmy
relevant intentionwithmy
research researchaswell
materials asthematerialsI
willneedtobe
successful

Objective 03: Literature review


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complete
Step ible d Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Findprior Lookintopeople MeganRust October17 Internet,


related whohave Library
research previously
researchedrelated
topicsandfind
connections
betweentheir
topicsandmine
tocreateabase
formydata
collectionand
research.

Define LookatwhatI MeganRust October18 Computer,


question wanttofindout Word
parameters andthenfigure processor
outwhat
boundariesIwant
tosetformydata
collectionto
ensurethatIhave
appropriatedata
toanswerthe
question
Introduce Introduce MeganRust October18 Computer,
research questionin Word
question literaturereview processor
portionofmy
paperandexplain
whyitis
importanttome

Create DefinewhatI MeganRust October25 Computer,


hypothesis believewill Word
happenwhenthe processor
dataiscollected
andanalyzed

Objective 04: Establish data collection method


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complete
Step ible d Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Determine Analyzemy MeganRust October31 KerryPriest,


target questionand Zoom
population determinewho
wouldbethe
correctpopulation
tocollectdata
from

Create Createscriptfor MeganRust, November15 Computer,


interview interviewand KerryPriest Word
questions decidehowto processor,
formquestionsto Examples
illicitaresponse
thatcanbe
comparedtoother
interviewees

Find Searchforpeople MeganRust November15 Internet,


participants withinthetarget Church
populationwho friends,
arewillingto Family,
participateand Professors
representan
accuratedepiction
ofthepopulation

Conduct Conductand MeganRust, January13 Computer,


interviews recordinterviews Research Email,
withparticipants participants Recording
device,
Phone

Objective 05: Analyze data


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complete
Step ible d Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Sortthedata Organizethe MeganRust January30 Computer,


collecteddatainto Collected
aformatthatis data,
usefulfor Kerry,
analyzingthe Zoom
collecteddata

Reviewthe Gothroughthe MeganRust February4 Computer,


data dataand Collected
determinewhatit data,
means Statistician

Talkthrough Meetwithmentor MeganRust February6 KerryPriest,


myfindings andgothrough Computer,
whatIfindinthe Sorteddata,
review TrendsIhave
discovered,
Zoom

Objective 06: Draw Conclusions


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complete
Step ible d Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Determine Gothroughthe MeganRust February20 Computer,


whatthe trendsindicated Sorteddata,
trends anddraw KerryandIs
presented conclusionsbased findings
indicate onwhatis
presentedthrough
thedata

Discuss TellKerrymy MeganRust February27 Kerry,


conclusions conclusionsand Personal
withmy discussany conclusions,
mentor conclusionsshe Computer,
mayhavedrawn Zoom
fromdataanalysis
process

Compilemy Writeeverything MeganRust March8 Computer


conclusions downand
intoauseful compilemynotes
format intoalogicallist
thatIcanusein
myresearch

Compare Comparethe MeganRust March12 Original


information conclusionsthatI hypothesis,
foundtomy havecompiledto Computer,
original theoriginal Data
hypothesis hypothesisI
createdand
comparethem

Objective 07: Create Research Report


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complete
Step ible d Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Formatdata Formatcollected MeganRust March19 Collected


collected datainto Data,
preferredpaper Research
format designbook,
Computer

Discuss Provideclear MeganRust April2 Computer


process explanationof
datacollection
andanalysis
process

Discuss Interpretfindings MeganRust April2 Computer


findings inaclearand
logicalmanner
thatisaccessible
tothereaderof
thepaper
Editpaper Sendpaperto MeganRust April10 Computer,
multiple Finished
constituentswith paper,Mallie
knowledgeofthe Rust,
topicbeing KerryPriest,
discussedandget Justin
theirinputon Greenleaf,
grammarand KaleyKlaus
content

Objective 08: Explore the Possibility of Publishing


Date to
Person be
Action Respons Complet
Step ible ed Resource Communica
(What): How: (Who): (When): s: tion:

Findrelevant Inquireabout MeganRust March22 KaleyKlaus,


journals journalsthat Justin
wouldhavea Greenleaf,
focusthatis KerryPriest,
relevanttoboth
mybeliefsand Library
thepapertopic database,
Google,
Computer

Learnabout Findthe MeganRust April1 KaleyKlaus,


application application Justin
process processfortheir Greenleaf,
specificsourceas KerryPriest,
wellasthe Journal
general website
application
process

Formatpaper Doanyfinal MeganRust April15 Computer,


for formattingand Completed
application editingnecessary paper
forapplication
standards

Sendinpaper Sendincorrected MeganRust May7 Completed


andeditedpaper paper,
Application
paperwork