Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Blessed Are the Meek

Written by: on September 16, 2023

Simon P. Walker takes his readers on a journey of “undefendeness” and is a great sequel to his first book of this trilogy, Leading Out of Who You Are. Walker draws copiously from psychology and other ego patterns mentioned previously in his writings such as “shaping, defining, adapting, and defending.”[1] He interweaves secular and sacred to get to the core of authentic, ego-less leadership by using famous figures and stories that rely on empathy, vulnerability, and authenticity.

Simon P. Walker’s profound exploration, Leading with Nothing to Lose, investigates the concept of “undefended leadership” through both secular and Christian lenses. Walker’s theory and spiritual wisdom illuminates uncharted territories of leadership thought and practice. Its focus on humility, selflessness, and serving others deeply resonates with biblical principles and Christ’s own leadership model and introduces a style of leadership that I have a preference for. Walker drives the point home that “weakness is a source of power” and to ignore it or belittle it, would be foolish and restricting.[2]

Leadership has traditionally been associated with strength, confidence, and unwavering resolve. Walker helps leaders grow and reach new heights in leadership by opening the door to a new source of power and assisting leaders to change their perspectives and behaviors in regard to weakness. Walker cites several examples of questioning “powerful” CEOs and leaders during conferences about presenting weakness to a staff or team and was consistently met with predictable resistance. This is a hard concept for many leaders to grasp and moves against the typical strategy of numerous leadership books and theories.

Walker continues to use references from Leading Out of Who You Are and expands on the consequences of leading too much on the “Front Stage” or “Back Stage.” He states on page 285, “Leaders who lead only on their front stages burn themselves out, while their followers wither from lack of nourishment, or feel oppressed, or are simply unable to keep up.”[3] This can also be detrimental in regard to leading solely in the “backstage” environment. “Less common is the backstage leader who is unwilling or unable to come onto his front stage. He is less common for one main reason: someone like this will tend not to succeed as a leader.”[4]

This paradox of front and backstage leadership is something that resonates with me. I am personally an introverted-extrovert. I realize how contradictory this sounds, and is, but it is the truth. I have been in sales and leadership roles for years and have the ability to “turn it on” when needed, however, my comfort is in the backstage, and prefer to be the visionary and strategic reinforcement over the individual who is center stage and perhaps takes the glory. I rarely go on social media, I don’t like to share my life, and people are always telling me how great something would be if I would just open up more. Walker shares a rare source of power through weakness that I can connect with although I do not feel weak necessarily. I’m just not your typical leader or pastor. I understand this philosophy inherently however, I fear his warnings that it will limit me in many ways if not used correctly.

Walker helps build confidence in leaders on many levels and has helped me significantly. On page 320 he writes, “When you accept the role in leadership, you accept a public life in which your behavior is identified with the institution you represent.”[5] This section reminded me of Moses not wanting to accept the leadership role in the Israelites’ exodus and even asking for a replacement or substitute (Aaron) so he may be more comfortable in a backstage role. “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”[6]

The undefended leadership concept resonates deeply with my understanding of Christian leadership principles. Walker’s account of the public front stage and the private backstage mirrors my own experiences as a Christian leader. Much as Jesus navigated the public scrutiny and private moments of prayer and solitude, I have found myself juggling responsibilities; publicly serving my community while contemplating which is the right path in ministry. I have experienced moments of growth and periods of struggle. I can confirm this dual lifestyle reality, akin to juggling two separate lives, one public and one private. Walker’s concept embodies this thought process and provides a new perspective to it that has been extremely helpful.

This dichotomy also brings to mind Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he comments on his struggles, saying “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”[7] This verse encapsulates the power of acknowledging our backstage, our weaknesses, and our vulnerabilities, just as Paul did. Walker’s analysis of power relationships and the importance of trust reflects the Christian call to love and trust God’s wisdom above all.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”[8] 


[1] Walker, Simon P. Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Exercise of Power (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 2). Piquant Editions. Kindle Edition. 5555

[2] Ibid, 157

[3] Ibid, 285

[4] Ibid, 286

[5] Ibid, 320

[6] Exodus 4:10, ESV

[7] 2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV

[8] Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV

About the Author

Michael O'Neill

Director of Operations / Executive Pastor at Kinergy, Inc. Federal 501c3 Non-Profit Organization. An experienced entrepreneur, leader, father, wellness professional, and owner of a multi-location medical practice with my wife, Nicole O'Neill, MD.

10 responses to “Blessed Are the Meek”

  1. Kristy Newport says:

    Wonderful summary of Walker’s work.
    I like this: “He interweaves secular and sacred to get to the core of authentic, ego-less leadership by using famous figures and stories that rely on empathy, vulnerability, and authenticity.”
    I thought the best example you used was Moses and Aaron. Very appropriate. Spot on!

    I am curious what this would look like if you were to do this more:
    ” I don’t like to share my life, and people are always telling me how great something would be if I would just open up more.”
    Maybe you do not disclose weakness over social media (this is wise in my view) but what about in relationships where there is established trust? Feel free to not respond here. 🙂
    I am looking forward to seeing you in Oxford. May God bless you as you travel to England and get some work done. Please be ready to share pictures of Zion. 🙂

  2. Michael O'Neill says:

    Thanks, Kristy. I tend to open up more in close settings but rarely publically. I have shot a video or two for social media because I had to or couldn’t miss an opportunity but I almost always felt like it was an obligation. It’s not necessarily my life that I want to hide, it’s just the whole social media and the fake world I want no part of. I know it is good for the ministry and “business” and I know it could also bring a lot of people to Christ so I guess I need to find some sort of balance. My wife is similar but anytime she puts something out there or our business films her, it’s always the most viewed and gets the most response. I’ll get there. Perhaps when I graduate I will feel more comfortable. Thanks!

  3. Michael,
    Great post, one of my favorites you have written. I believe what makes this post so powerful, is because you live out this post in your daily life. Well done!

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Greg. I really enjoyed this book and definitely connected with it. Books like this really help take my leadership to new levels with the help of the Holy Spirit. I also learn by example from great leaders like you.

  4. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Great summary and lots of transparency. I certainly resonate with being an extrovert-introvert (omnivert). This quote from Walker resonated with me as well: “When you accept the role in leadership, you accept a public life in which your behavior is identified with the institution you represent.”
    I find this to be true even as I have backed off social media. I find that people equate me with the institution I work for. It did make me think about the fact that we are relational at our core and our connections to a company or institution are the people we are in relationship with.
    How have you brought intentionality to your current business as you navigate the tension between representing your gym and letting it represent itself (or pushing other people out front)?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thanks for the omnivert definition. I look forward to using that in the future. I struggle with representing the ministry but not because I’m nervous. I think I have just heard too many stories of social media damaging lives, taking people down the wrong road, and being a massive platform for pretending things are perfect. I wish there was a better way to get the word out.

      Have you noticed a difference in your life as you backed off of social media?

  5. mm Becca Hald says:

    Thank you for sharing Michael. My husband is also an omnivert (as Chad put it). 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is one I lean on consistently. With my health struggles, I know that it is only by His grace I am able to overcome. I wonder how it would change the world if more leaders were vulnerable and willing to share their struggles. There is a balance, a time and place to share, but I do think that the willingness to be vulnerable allows others to be vulnerable as well.

  6. Alana Hayes says:

    “When you accept the role in leadership, you accept a public life in which your behavior is identified with the institution you represent.”

    Having a business in a small town that depends on local patrons coming to succeed quite possibly could be the best way to practice this….

    There are so many things I want to say as a messy human… even on social media… but I hold back because I know if I say anything at all that offends someone I lose customers. HA!

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      I agree! The sensitivity level continues to increase and is out of hand in my opinion. I prefer to remain silent on many issues.

      Proverbs 17:28 “Even a food who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

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