As You Go…
In the first book in The Undefended Leader trilogy, Simon Walker depicts the landscape of the undefended leader in a visual manner that offers the reader concrete and practical application at the end of each chapter. His concept of the undefended leader can boil down to their core identity – they know who they are outside of success, failure, loss, skills, or notoriety. Walker emphasizes that in the same way we were all created to individually reflect the Lord, we have a similar mandate as we lead. Our personality and our life experiences are intended to be used for us each to live in freedom that then has the capacity to lead others in healthy and authentic ways. Walker guides the reader to recognize themselves in one of four ego identities that were largely shaped through childhood and adolescence. Throughout the remainder of the book, he offers targeted and practical steps to take for each of those identities that lead towards a self-awareness and freedom. Walker summarizes that “enabling people to take responsibility is the primary task of leadership” with the primary goal being “for both the leader and the follower to be changed” (153).
A recurring thought as I was reading this week was of the root of the word ‘go’ within the great commission. Oftentimes, those few verses in Matthew 28 are utilized when the church refers to the sending of missionaries, outreach programs, or encouraging congregants towards acts of service. Digging a bit deeper, the term ‘go’ in that passage is actually expounded to ‘as you are going’ which then transforms the command into a daily action that is embedded in all aspects of our life. If we look at leadership in a similar context of being something that is done as we go about our lives – not taking place primarily in front- or back-stage – then Walker’s suggestion for a leader to use their power to empower, educate, and enable others feels less threatening for all involved (3). For me, it even offers a release of the appeal for power and control because ultimately I’m being asked to step fully into who I have been created to be by the Lord, to walk consistently in my calling, and steward only what he has given me in any given day.
In reflecting on the application towards my NPO, this reading has been a reminder that the core of what I’m focusing on is to empower and equip university students to utilize their own skills, education, and passions towards action and cross-cultural relationship. In doing so, the materials that I will produce for higher education institutions to replicate and scale for their given context will aid towards producing graduates who are undefended leaders. On the daily, I interact with students who fall into each of the four identities Walker describes, who have understanding of and desires for power and control across the whole spectrum, and now, am equipped with more targeted language and actionable steps to assist them towards freedom and health.
Lastly, as a new parent, Walker’s dive into the formation of the ego in early childhood and adolescence has reignited an intentionality that I want to foster in our home as I cultivate and steward these little lives. While I have found the journey of parenting to be the hardest blessing I’ve ever had, I am confident that as I pursue the Lord, living and leading in freedom, it will be the best gift I can give to my children.
Blue Letter Bible. “G4198 – Poreuō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (ESV).”
7 responses to “As You Go…”
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Great essay Kayli, thank you. I have never heard the Matthew 28 verse expounded to “as you are going…” Glad this book has a direct impact on your NPO and your work with college students. I see the four egos also identifiable in the groups I interact with.
Much thanks Kayli. Indeed if we adopt a stance of “leadership as you go” we greatly minimize the incidence of a “back-stage and front-stage” lifestyle, and instead practice a more authentic Christianity that reflects our Lord.
Kayli, I like that your NPO will work with university students. My own NPO also focuses on younger people within the church and how to equip them to lead the next generation of the church. I look forward to the project you produce. Also, this quote caused me to reread it several times and reflection on my own ministry and journey with God: “For me, it even offers a release of the appeal for power and control because ultimately I’m being asked to step fully into who I have been created to be by the Lord, to walk consistently in my calling, and steward only what he has given me in any given day.” So well put and applicable to us all.
Kayli, I love how you pulled out the image of ministry being done on the way. As I have pondered my own NPO that has been something I am desiring to implement. As well as the idea of the personal identity of the individual. The implementation of identity into ministry in the format of an natural flow is something that overall is missing from much of our traditional church life. I am so excited that you are desiring to make this a part of the university population. This group of believers have so much energy and passion that can be channeled for an amazing impact.
A side note. I have come across two parenting, in my mind, gurus that have implemented these principles well. I thought you might be interested. Look into Barbara Coloroso, and Michele Borba. I will probably be integrating some of their work into my own NPO.
Kayli, great job tying all of this into your personal life and ministry life. Parenting is so great (and humbling)! As a parent of 4, I can resonate with your feelings. I look forward to seeing how this book, and others, inform your leadership “in the home” just as much as among your students you lead. Trust me, as you invest in your family, this will speak volumes to the students you lead!
Kayli, I find myself always looking forward to reading your blog. Your intentionality to weave together your reading with scripture and your reflection of your personal experience is beautiful!
Your personal application of Walker’s thought about empowerment through letting go of power is brilliant. I would say that the human condition is not always inclined to empower because it does mean a loss…but perhaps I am jaded because of being the collateral damage from a few people feeling threatened by the thought of empowering others (including me). I do believe it is an act of faith to empower others to be able to live more fully into dignity so I pray for your continued work to empower and therefore feel the freedom that Christ offers.
Walker doesn’t really speak to this, but I am curious what you do when others don’t want to truly receive empowerment? How does this possibility impact your NPO?
Dear Kayli, thank you for this thoughtful engagement with Walker’s book. I love your exegesis of ‘go’ from Matthew 28…it’s an understanding of the Greek grammar that has been so profound for me over the years, and I’m so thankful you raised it to my awareness again! Tying this to Walker with your profound insight of looking at leadership as something that is exercised throughout one’s day was particularly helpful to me. It brings home the reality that leadership flows primarily out of who we are, not our position or role. Who we are as a leader sets the context for others to grow as leaders and as whole people. Per my previous two sentences, your comment adds to my NPO thinking. Thank you.