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

Freedom to be Vulnerable

Written by: on November 4, 2022

My husband and I love going to the theater. Every year, we get season tickets to see the current Broadway productions. A night out at the theater is one of our favorite date nights. I love it when the lights go down and we are transported to another world. The actors often make the production look effortless, but my daughter is a theater major, and I know much of what goes on behind the scenes. Simon Walker discusses the front stage and back stage in his book Leading Out of Who You Are. He uses this analogy to discuss the life of a leader.

Walker writes, “What lies behind the creation of a front and a back stage is the sense that we can’t entirely trust our audience, and so we need to manage what they see of us.”[1] The front stage is the face the leader presents to the crowd. It is the polished musical number, the elaborate sets, and intricate costumes. The front state consists of well-rehearsed lines, and perfectly timed steps. The leader who does not trust their audience will create an image that seems perfect, like she has it all together. I like to call this the Pinterest Perfect image. The bright lights of the stage and dark lights of the audience create an illusion that helps to hide the image.

Have you ever seen an actor up close after a performance? Stage makeup is not the same as every day make up. It is intentionally bold and exaggerated to be seen under the bright lights and from afar. When seen up close, the actor’s face looks distorted and odd. Behind the scenes, things are just as distorted. What looks like the front of a house on the front turns out to be just a painted piece of plywood, the crystal goblets of wine are plastic, and the backstage is a mess of props, costumes, and other random items. As Walker puts it, “The front stage is the place for conviction and confidence, the back stage the place for struggle and uncertainty.”[2]When the leader tries to live in this dichotomy, they are unable to sustain the image. This eventually results in a breakdown.

Walker goes on in his book to describe the undefended leader. The undefended leader does not use defense mechanisms such as the front and back stage. She goes beyond these defense mechanisms and leads from a place of trust. “Freedom comes when we start to allow people to see not only the glossy image but the mess as well.”[3] The more we can learn to be vulnerable and share our stories, the more we give others the freedom to be vulnerable. I love it when I get to meet the actors after a performance. Up close, you can see the distorted makeup. The magic of the performance fades away and you encounter a real person. By allowing the audience to see our mess, we are inviting them into our vulnerability. We create a space where it is acceptable to be messy because life is messy.

The undefended leader can show vulnerability because they feel loved unconditionally by someone. Every time my daughter finishes a performance, she asks me how I thought it went. She asks me to critique her performance. One time I remember telling her that I would be glad to give her pointers when she was practicing, but I would that for a performance I would always tell her she was amazing and that I was proud of her. She said to me, “I know mama, I just like to hear it.” She knows that I love her unconditionally and that I am in the audience rooting for her. As Walker states, “Freedom comes from knowing that you are approved of. Freedom to perform comes from the knowledge that there is someone rooting for you in the audience, whose opinion you value more than anyone else’s and who is smiling and cheering just for you.”[4] Just as my daughter knows that I will always be her biggest supporter when she is onstage, I try to remember that as I lead, that I, too, have unconditional love and support. It is hard to remember because I was not raised with that kind of love and support, but I am learning to trust that God is proud of me and cheering me on. I can be vulnerable as a leader because He is always on my side.


[1] Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (The Undefended Leadership Trilogy Book 1). (City, Publisher, Year), pg. 47

[2] Ibid., pg. 40

[3] Ibid., pg. 48

[4] Ibid., pg. 130

About the Author


Becca Hald

Becca is an ordained Foursquare minister, serving as the Online Community Pastor at Shepherd's House Church. She has over twenty-five years of leadership experience both inside and outside the church. Becca has served her community in many capacities ranging from Administrative Assistant and Children’s Ministry Director to Secretary and President of multiple school organizations. She and her husband, Andrew have been married for over 25 years. They have two adult children, Drew and Evelyn. Her great passion is to equip others, to raise awareness about mental health, and to help reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues. In her free time, she loves going to Disneyland, reading, sewing, and making cards.

9 responses to “Freedom to be Vulnerable”

  1. Caleb Lu says:

    Becca, what a great policy you have with your daughter with giving pointers during practice and the leadup and being totally encouraging and supportive after performances.

    I think I know that God offers me that unconditional love and I still can’t help but understand that in most circumstances I won’t be in an unconditional love situation as a leader of people. How do you balance knowing you’re unconditionally loved by God with the reality that people who don’t have unconditional love for you can hold power over your job/life.

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      It is not easy to balance and I am still learning. Part of it is consistent time with God, letting Him speak to me. Have you ever read “You Are Special” by Max Lucado? It is a children’s book that gives a great image of how spending time with God can change your self image. Another part is learning that I can only control my own actions. Other people are going to respond how they respond. My mother tried to exert control over my life and I finally set a healthy boundary. My parents responded by cutting me out of their life. You have to be willing to accept the consequences of other people’s responses. It is not easy at all and can be very painful, but also super healthy and rewarding.

  2. Tonette Kellett says:


    I enjoyed your post, and explanation of the differences between what is seen front stage and backstage. It was a good picture of Walker’s text. I also appreciate the unconditional love you have for your daughter and the ways that you demonstrate that love for her. Your posts are always delightful.

  3. mm Daron George says:


    I enjoyed your post and how you invited us into the story of your daughter. You said something interesting “We create a space where it is acceptable to be messy because life is messy.” As a leader even though life is messy, how do you create that space for you where it is acceptable to be messy? I know as leaders it can be hard to allow ourselves this kind of space.

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      I learned the hard way. I went through a mental break down in 2017 and was in a partial hospitalization program for three months with six weeks residential in the middle of that. Going through suicidal depression taught me that you cannot hide the mess. It will come out in some form or other eventually. Because of my own journey, I am intentional about sharing my story and letting others into the mess so that they know it is okay to not be okay. I am intentional about providing space for others to share their mess. The more I do this, the more I see that I am not the only one and that others need to hear my story and share their own.

  4. Michael O'Neill says:

    Thank you for the vulnerable post, Becca. I really enjoyed your personal illustration of a front and back stage leader from multiple lenses. The life of a leader includes experiences of distortion and disorder on one side and confidence and execution on the other. Your post brought those to light for me and served as a great reminder of the image we are presenting.

    Parenting involves great leadership too and it sounds like your are on the right track of building up future leaders.

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      Thank you Michael. Yes, parenting is a form of leadership. Probably the most difficult kind! My kids are 23 and 20. We did not do everything perfectly, but we did our best and I am proud of the man and woman my children have become. Though they are adults now, we do still have space to speak into their lives, but that is a privilege not a given.

  5. Alana Hayes says:


    I loved your illustration of stage makeup. I will never forget the first time I saw it up close. I was an adult and completely taken back on how it could possibly look so different!

    I absolutely love what you said- “We create a space where it is acceptable to be messy because life is messy.”

    Life and people are extremely messy!

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