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

Dr. Marvin, You Can Help Me!

Written by: on May 9, 2018

Did you know that there is a website that boasts it has 5240 quotes on leadership! Five thousand, two hundred and forty! Why is that?

Why is it that we need quote after quote and book after book to realize first, that leading is important and second that everyone wants to lead. Did you just say, everyone? Certainly, not everyone wants to lead. Some want to be followers. Look at people! Most people can’t lead and others refuse to lead. In fact, many even get in the way. Not everyone is a leader, and not everyone wants to lead. 

I’ve heard these statements throughout my life. They do have validity, however, based mostly on the view of a “doer-leader.” The “doer-leader” are those who would say, “lead, follow or get out of the way!” That actually might not be leadership but bullying. But I digress. Getting back to my main thought, I do suspect that everyone wants to lead. At least they want to lead their own life. Why would we have the phrase “he has control issues?” Why would people state, “I want to be left alone to do what I want to do?” Or what about the statement, “You can’t tell me what to do, I make my own decisions for my life.” 

If you read between the lines, each statement is a cry to be a leader. Making decisions—good and bad—is the heart of leadership. I do believe that God has placed in each of us not only the desire to lead but the ability to lead. We are all born to lead. 

Organizationally speaking, some will lead at the top, some will lead at the middle and others will lead at other levels. However, in life, everyone must lead. We all know what happens when people refuse to take leadership in their own life. I only need refer to the many cults that are able to exist because people allow others to lead their lives. The Deep Change Field Guide,[1] it is the one book that I have come across, so far, this helps a person understand first that they are leaders, second that leadership can be developed and then show you how.

For staunch leadershipites (is that a word?) this books can seem rather reductive. The “Think About It” sections may be a little too much for some who don’t want to think about it, they just want to do it: the doer-leader. But, leadership takes thoughtful reflection; ergo the Journaling and Memo sections. Even the film suggestions have a reflective component. Quinn points out that whether someone is leading an organization or their own life, thinking and reflection are critical to good leadership.

However, it is the topic of failure in leadership that most demonstrates the transformational aspect of this book and informs us of the need for thinking and reflection. For example, when I read Bill’s description of the pine tree that he drew, the tree looked familiar to me too. Upon reflecting on his work, he said, “I realized that I was that dying old pine tree and that I was denying my need for nourishment for self.” As Quinn so aptly explains, the harder we work, the less we accomplish. The more we push, the less forward we move. [2] Consider the following statement. 

“Psychologists tell us that as our stress level increases, our attention span tends to diminish. We seek to solve new problems with the same methods by which we solved old problems. Instead of responding creatively, we increase our commitment to old patterns. At the very moment when innovative action is most needed, we implement our most ingrained response.” [3]

My initial reaction to that statement is the same response that Bob gave to Dr. Leo Marvin in the movie What About Bob?. Bob responded to the Dr’s analysis by saying, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! Dr. Marvin, you can help me. For the first time in my life, I feel like there’s hope. I feel like I can be somebody.” [4] 

Though I don’t say it about many books, I got that feeling through most of Quinn’s book. I can express it only in that there is something that rings true here.  Of course, some will say it’s dribble, merely psycho-mumbo-jumbo. Real leaders don’t write journals or reflect. They just lead! Okay, but the sharper the ax, the less effort it takes to get more done.  

Admittedly, this book is not religious in nature. It’s not intended to be. However, as I read  The Deep Change Field Guide, I often paused to consider how the Holy Spirit might use a book like this to challenge leaders in the church to find and better understand the leader within. Furthermore, I think this book can help inform the Christian leader on how to see the deep changes that are needed, making way for the for the Holy Spirit do the work of that deep change. The is a field guide worth reading. 



 1. Robert E. The Quinn, Deep Change Field Guide: A Personal Course to Discovering the Leader Within, 1 ed. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

2. Ibid., 16.

3. Ibid.

4. Alvan Sargent, Laura Ziskin, What About Bob? Film Directed by Frank Oz, Los Angeles, CA: Touchstone Pictures, 1991, 11:04.


About the Author

Jim Sabella

12 responses to “Dr. Marvin, You Can Help Me!”

  1. Stu Cocanougher says:

    “…as I read The Deep Change Field Guide, I often paused to consider how the Holy Spirit might use a book like this to challenge leaders in the church to find and better understand the leader within.”

    I agree. I would highly recommend this to any pastor. I was especially moved when I read his premise that leaders need to change THEMSELVES before they change their organizations. It sounded like Jesus’ characterization of the Pharisees as “whitewashed tombs.”

    • Jim Sabella says:

      Thanks Stu. I sometimes think that changing oneself can be more difficult than changing an organization. You’re right, deep change must begin with us.

  2. Lynda Gittens says:

    Thanks, Jim for the statistics on leadership quotes.

    I agree with your statement “paused to consider how the Holy Spirit might use a book like this to challenge leaders in the church to find and better understand the leader within.” I believe this book is great for the Christian leaders. We can add a few scriptures and support some of his points

    • Jim Sabella says:

      Thanks, Lynda. This is one of those rare books that can apply to many situations. That’s what makes it such a great book. I really liked this one because it has solid and practical advice.

  3. Mary says:

    Jim, I had the same thoughts about using the book in church myself. Why not have a class where the students watch something with the teacher and discuss it? What a great idea!!
    I also though about your dissertation when I read this book (but more when I started reading the next one – you’ll see what I mean). No matter where you are – leading yourself, leading your family, leading a few others (middle leader) or leading at the top the principle of being willing to look at your own life and change is the same. Quinn would agree with ‘take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of the other person’s eye’ even if he has a ‘secular’ reason. Biblical principles work!!
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    • Jim Sabella says:

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, I just finished reading and writing the post for Bridges. I will use, these two in my dissertation for sure. I think that we sometimes forget as leaders that change and transformation begin with/in us. Quinn addresses this in an insightful and practical way.

  4. Katy Drage Lines says:

    Jim, I thought a lot about the Holy Spirit working change within us when I read this book, too (and I’m from a movement that ignores the HS!).
    And I think you’re spot on to suggest that everyone wants to lead, though we have many different understandings of what that means. Quinn suggests that leadership is influence. We all want to have an influence on our own lives, and feel like we contribute to others’ as well. In contributing, we influence and lead.

    • Jim Sabella says:

      Thanks, Katy. I’ve been looking closely at influence as I’m preparing to write my dissertation. Middle leaders often don’t have the power to initiate change, but they do have influence—which can be more powerful than position. Influence can be a more valuable currency for change than position.

  5. Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    I love this proclamation Jim: “I do believe that God has placed in each of us not only the desire to lead but the ability to lead. We are all born to lead.” I think our definition of leadership has been too narrow and small. As we seek to expand the definition and characteristics of a leader, I think we will find more leaders stepping forward and becoming empowered to lead. My hope and prayer for the church is everyone becomes empowered to lead boldly for Christ so we become world changers for a hurting world.

  6. Kristin Hamilton says:

    I love the What About Bob? reference, Jim. This Field Guide and Quinn’s original book hit me the same way every time I engaged with it. I feel like you hit on something important in the need for reflection. How can the Holy Spirit work if we are constantly just doing and never reflecting? I realize that the amount of reflection needed will vary from person to person, but I’m pretty sure my biggest mistakes have happened when I failed to take a minute to pause and reflect.
    Yes, this is a book that every pastor and spiritual leader can benefit from! Thank you for your great insights, Jim.

    • Jim Sabella says:

      Thanks, Kristen. What about Bob is one of my favorite movies. I too am learning the lessons and importance of reflection. It seems like everything in our world screams that there’s no time for reflection. That’s why I find it more and more important. I try to practice it daily, but so much gets in the way. I find that that for me the Holy Spirit does his best work in me in the quiet times when I can be still and know…

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