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

Clinging to Christ

Written by: on February 23, 2024

I started this Doctoral journey being very intentional about connecting the assigned readings to my NPO. There were a few books where it was a bit challenging to relate them to my research but in most cases I was able to find a point of connection. Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow was one of the books that I felt had a direct application to my research. Kahneman introduces two Systems that are creatively named System 1 and System 2. “System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and so sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration. [1] This concept caused me to immediately think about my NPO stakeholders. As I began to explore how to impact and change negative perceptions, this System 1 and System 2 thinking helped me frame the influence that conscious and unconscious biases play on our interactions. In my DLGP02 Spring 2023 post, I wrote, “Suggesting that the systems (specifically system 1 which informs system 2) that drive how we think operate automatically, made me uncomfortable. It raises concerns that there is no hope at changing incorrect, inaccurate impressions that may be driven by conscious or unconscious biases.”[2] After reading Rare Leadership, it was clear that the concepts in Thinking, Fast and Slow are closely related each other.

Fast Track, Slow Track

The description of fast-track and slow-track in Rare Leadership was a direct correlation to Kahneman System 1 and System 2 thinking. Kahneman focuses on the voluntary and involuntary processing of thoughts. Warner and Wilder focus on processing relational leadership skills. The authors describe this as “the brain uses a “fast track” process for relational leadership skills and a very different “slow track” process for management skills.” [3] Yet there was a greater connection for me. As Kahneman’s concept led me to examine conscious and unconscious biases, Warner and Wilder led me to examine my leadership skills. I have had difficulty relating my current work situation to my research. I am not working in a predominately white religious space in my role as Interim CEO. However, I am working in a difficult space. I am working in a space where I have to use all the tools in my toolbox to be successful. I am working in a space where I may be perceived by some team members as the problem. I am working in a space where I need to look beyond the immediate perceptions and see the situation through a clear lens. I am working in a situation where my “fast track” thinking may be allowing unconscious biases to surface. As the authors explain, “The “fast track” operates at speeds above the level of conscious thought and primarily governs relational reality. The “slow track ‘is what we notice consciously.” As much as I have tried to separate my research from my current work, this week’s reading showed me that it’s all connected. I believe that I am having the rare experience of being on the stakeholder side of my research. The timing could not be more perfect as I am currently exploring (through prototyping) the most effective way to reach my stakeholder group.

Malcolm Gladwell shares a helpful perspective in his book Blink, “If something is happening outside of awareness, how on earth do you fix it? The answer is that we are not helpless in the face of our first impressions. They may bubble up from the unconscious-from behind a locked door inside of our brain- but just because something is outside of awareness doesn’t mean it’s outside of control. “[4] According to Gladwell, this bubbling up of awareness can help us develop a conscious solution. So, what do I do with all this? How do I reconcile it into something that serves me and my research as I move forward?

Better Habits

I was particularly interested in the four habits that help your emotional intelligence soar. Warner and Wilder introduce as helping leaders in two ways: “1) We want you to understand the fast-track brain mechanism that learns and distributes leadership skills, and 2) we want to help you train the leadership system in your brain using four core habits of effective leaders.”[5] The authors  use the acronym RARE for these strategies: “Remain Relational, Act Like Yourself, Return to Joy, and Endure Hardship Well”[6] This strategy are offered as tools to keep our emotional intelligence intact as we navigate leadership responsibilities and better understand how to move forward. I want to better understand my ‘fast track’ mechanism and train it to be more effective in management and leadership spaces. I also want to help other leaders (church and non-profit) do the same. I am also keenly aware that it is a process that does not happen overnight and each situation, each person has unique challenges to face.

When My Circuits are Cut

I took the quiz on Page 129 and had an affirmative answer to four of the six questions. I discovered something interesting and truly relevant to my current situation. My circuits are off. My fast track is not functioning at the present time. “In order to remain relational, act like ourselves, and return to joy we need to have our RCs on.”[7] My Relational Circuit is off, it has officially short circuited.

Wilder and Warner give us another acronym to remember the strategy to restart our relational circuit. They introduce CAKE admittedly I got a little excited, as a Foodie I was hoping that the fix to my current predicament involved the consumption of cake, possibly my favorite German Chocolate Cake. Sounds pretty plausible that turning my relational circuits on would involve a tantalizing dessert. Yet they take a more practical and healthier route by introducing CAKE as an acronym for, Curiosity, Appreciation, Kindness, and Envelope Conversations. These strategies are offered as a way to remain relational without the added sugary, caloric intake that actual cake offers.

Wilder and Warner make a brave leap from explaining the CAKE strategy to introducing Hesed. “Hesed is one of the most common words used in the Old Testament to describe God. You could translate it “sticky love.’ It is the sort of love you can’t shake off. It sticks to you through every high and low, every success and failure, every malfunction and sin.”[8] I could sure use some “sticky love.” As I seek solutions and try to employ strategies, I am very uncertain in this season, I am clinging to Hesed, Agape Love of Christ.



[1] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), 20.

[2] This quote was from my Spring 2023(March 2, 2023) DLGP02 Blog post on Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

[3] Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2016), 20-21.

[4] Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (New York: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown & Company, 2019), nbjkj96.

[5] Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2016), 19.

[6] Ibid., 19.

[7] Ibid., 129.

[8] Ibid., 134.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

5 responses to “Clinging to Christ”

  1. Esther Edwards says:

    German Chocolate Cake is a favorite of mine too!
    I can see how RARE Leadership would be advantageous in addressing your NPO. Curiosity instead of judgment opens the door to perceive another way of seeing something. I know it has really challenged my own biases. Thank you for doing so much to address the need.

  2. mm Russell Chun says:

    I too wonder if my relational circuits have been emotionally friend. But then I think of our peer group and know for certain that SOME relationships are waiving but others are not. I think you are disappointed in your works sphere as I am in mine with my GoodSports International board, but THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

    I need some of that HESED love!


  3. Hey young lady, I love how deep you think and process information. I have an easy question for you. How do you think your Relation Circuits came a little off?

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Hesed is such a beautiful word. sticky love….

    In this season, how does Hesed love, sticky love speak to you as you continue to be in this interim leadership role?

  5. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Jonita!

    It’s a nice and inspiring post. Thank you.

    In what way was the concept of hesed or “sticky love” the most important factor for you when you faced the most difficult challenges you have ever encountered in your ministry?

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