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

Dinka, Is It Really You?

Written by: on March 17, 2023

Freedom comes when we start to allow people to see not only the glossy image

but the mess as well

-Simon P. Walker-


Looking good and impressive is something that many people like. That’s why many people will try to conceal their past and background. Many people don’t like their true identity to be known by many people because it is considered to be able to affect their appearance in public. One thing that many people can do is to make their appearance as attractive as possible. Another thing is that they will equip themselves with various knowledge and skills to show that they deserve attention.


I must confess that I too experience such feelings. I derive happiness from impressing others with my possessions, irrespective of my inner emotions or struggles at the time. The primary concern is to present well to others, no matter the circumstances. Although this gives me pleasure, it feels like wearing a heavy mask on my face, and I’m not sure why.


Reading Simon P. Walker’s writing makes me feel like being slapped. Walker wrote that leadership is fundamentally “about who you are, not what you know or what skills you have.”[1] Walker’s view emphasizes primarily on who the leader is, rather than on the knowledge and skills that they acquire. This means being open and authentic in front of people, rather than the other way around. Being authentic and true to oneself will provide relief and liberation for a leader, instead of burdening them. Walker emphasizes that “freedom comes when we start to allow people to see not only the glossy image but the mess as well.”[2] A true condition is needed by all leaders, but not everyone can find and experience it.


Most leaders prefer to stay in a false comfort zone rather than be open and authentic. But in reality, this condition can be potentially dangerous for the leader themselves and for the people they lead. Walker says, “Leaders who cling to personal power and are not free always, in the end, become corrupted.”[3] That is why we often find leaders (maybe including myself) who experience boredom, fatigue, and even burnout. Leaders who experience corruption endanger their own mental health and others’ and have the potential to harm others in their leadership.


Walker’s writing has taught me the importance of serving and leading authentically. Being authentic means letting go of the ego that has led us to prioritize maintaining a certain image rather than truly serving others. I must distance myself from the desire to become a superhero who saves as many people as possible. Walker writes “the choices you make to live an undefended life, to lead as an undefended leader, are not made for the sake of balance or wellbeing; they are made for a greater good. And that greater good is to set people free”.[4] Walker’s perspective provides insight that the primary goal of leadership is to liberate others so that they can discover their own authenticity. By achieving this, a true leader will enable others to take responsibility.[5] Walker’s view inline with Eve Poole, a leader is a position that can bring a person into vulnerability, that’s why leaders must demonstrate tough leadership to be able to provide the people they lead with a sense of clarity and direction in the face of uncertainty. Therefore, through the forging process, prospective leaders or emerging leaders who develop themselves need to have a deep understanding of values and goals so that they do not lose their way and the decision they choose is wise and brings goodness.[6]


Walker’s writing really opened my eyes. Until now, my leadership has mostly been in a defended style rather than an undefended style. My ego and childhood experiences likely played a role in shaping me to adopt such a leadership model. But I was wrong. Instead of liberating others, my leadership could very well have been restraining and burdensome for others. Walker’s advice below feels right for me. “I have to stop trying to rescue people,” “I have to allow feedback to touch me,” I have to stop wanting to win at all costs, instead enjoy the moment and stay in it,” “I have to trust myself and others.”[7] Therefore, I must immediately repent by leaving the defended style and adopting the undefended style.







[1] Simon P. Walker, Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership, (London, UK: Piquant Edition Ltd. 2007), 5.

[2] Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are, 33.

[3] Walker, 47.

[4] Walker, 124.

[5] Walker, 153.

[6] Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London: New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017.), 50.

[7] Walker, 106-110.

About the Author


Dinka Utomo

Dinka Nehemia Utomo is an ordained pastor of the Protestant Church in the Western part of Indonesia (Gereja Protestan di Indonesia bagian Barat or GPIB). He has served for more than 15 years. The first five years of his ministry were in the remote area of East Kalimantan, including people from the indigenous Dayak tribe in the small villages in the middle of the forest, frequently reached using small boats down the river. For more than 15 years, Dinka has served several GPIB congregations in several cities in Indonesia. He has always had a passion for equipping Christian families, teaching and guiding them to build equal relations between husband and wife, maintaining commitment, love, and loyalty, creating a healthy and constructive Christian family atmosphere, and rejecting all forms of violence and sexual violence. Dinka's beloved wife, Verra, is also a GPIB pastor. They have two blessed children. Dinka and his wife and children love to spend quality family time, such as lunch or dinner, and vacation to exotic places.

10 responses to “Dinka, Is It Really You?”

  1. mm Kim Sanford says:

    Wow, Dinka, it sounds like this book really changed your perspective on yourself and your leadership! Bravo for your willingness to admit it. I admire your humility. As you look ahead, what are the next steps in your journey toward undefended leadership? What support or mentors do you have around you who can help you?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Kim!

      Thank you for your comment and question.

      Besides being honest and open with myself, I also need other people to guide me to see what is hindering me from leading authentically.

  2. Kally Elliott says:

    Dinka, based on your last two posts I think you’re doing quite a good job being undefended! I appreciate your vulnerability and authenticity!

    “Walker says, “Leaders who cling to personal power and are not free always, in the end, become corrupted.”[3] That is why we often find leaders (maybe including myself) who experience boredom, fatigue, and even burnout. Leaders who experience corruption endanger their own mental health and others’ and have the potential to harm others in their leadership.” I need to think about this comment for awhile. I am thinking about how the desire for personal power might be a cause of burnout. Thank you for giving me this to chew on…

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Kally. Thank you for your comment.

      Walker made me realize to be an authentic and open servant before God to experience His touch that guides me according to His will. Because according to Walker, a servant/leader will become corrupted if he only relies on his own strength.

  3. Cathy Glei says:

    I shared this in another post but it fits with your words in your post. It is a reading by Henri Nouwen from his book, Bread for the Journey, March 18. In thinking about leading undefended. . .
    “There are many forms of poverty: economic poverty, physical poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty and spiritual poverty. As long as we relate primarily to one another’s wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and strength, we cannot develop true community. Community is not a talent show in which we dazzle the world with combined gifts. Community is a place where our poverty is acknowledged and accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as best we can but as a true source of new life. Living in community in whatever form challenges us to come together at the place of our poverty, believing that there we can reveal our richness.” How might the presence of community in your life support you in your undefended leadership?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Thank you Cathy for your comment.

      Thank you for sharing Nouwen’s writing. I totally agree with that. I think the role of the community is also big in supporting our self-development. Therefore, we also need to look at which communities can support our self-development to become authentic individuals.

  4. mm Tim Clark says:

    I love the quote that a leaders “greater good is to set people free”, juxtaposed with the call to “stop rescuing people”. I think as leaders we often think that rescuing people will help them be free, but it’s the opposite, isn’t it? Furthermore if our goal is to set people free, we can do it without so much of the self-focus and anxiety that comes from a defended stance.

    I loved your post, Dinka, and the personal wrestling you are doing with this content.

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Tim! Thank you for your comment.

      That’s right, Tim! Usually what we think is good but in reality, is counter-productive. That’s why in the ministry we do the focus is God and not ourselves. Thus, we will be released from the heavy burden that presses on us.

  5. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    Thank you for your openness. I am enjoying reading your posts and taking this journey with you. I can especially identify with this, ” I must distance myself from the desire to become a superhero who saves as many people as possible.” I have come to the same realization, and it has been so freeing for me.

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Jonita. Thank you foryourcomment.

      Sometimes we really have to distance ourselves. This aims to open opportunities for us to see ourselves honestly and be authentic. This is the main key for every servant to get his energy back because by being authentic, we also open space for God to work in our lives and ministries.

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