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

Growing In Mastery, but not Ignoring What I’ve Got

Written by: on February 16, 2024

Two years ago, I started consulting with churches and mission organizations. The one church asked me to become their Interim Pastor, but my gut instinct told me I could simply offer to be their Transitional Coach for 10 hours a week, and rely on the gifted staff team they had, and get them just as far. It worked out better than I even imagined, but I didn’t quite understand why. One day, one of the leaders simply said, “Joel, your 10 hours a week goes much farther, because what you’re offering is out of all your accumulated skill.” Even under time-crunch, or unforeseen pressures, I had templates for what to do that assisted in all kinds of ways. It was shocking, but somehow true.

For me, the resonance in Eve Poole’s Leadersmithing was with the longing refrain she received from many leaders’: ‘I wish I’d known that I can do it.’ [1] This has perhaps been diminished under my commitment to life-long leadership development. Have I perhaps discounted the templates, skills, and mastery which has been forming over time? In my own life, it has been extraordinary helpful to review my own timeline while studying Dr. J Robert Clinton’s Leadership Emergence Theory [2]. While looking back, I reflected in a journal in 2021 how amazed I was at my foolishness to transfer “full potential” from God’s work IN me as work achieved. It is as though being an achiever takes every gift and converts it to a further goal for improvement.

This is a bit of the crucible of the current season leadership, to actually thank God for the skills and templates that I have been given, and apply them in the current season with confidence.  It is an opportunity to observe the neurological shortcuts, courtesy of templating [3] that are part of this chapter of my leadership journey.  This is where Poole’s example of looking at the chronological work at Monet’s work account for the depth and accumulated skill so evident once he settled into them [4].

So, I do love the deck of cards, and while I intend to continue to hone my King of Spades (Numbers), Three of Hearts (Thank yous) and Nine of Hearts (Storytelling) [5], I intend to persevere at getting better, while celebrating more the Mastery that has been forming over time.


[1] Poole, Eve. Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership. London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, 181.

[2] Clinton, J. Robert. 1993. “Getting Perspective — By Using Your Unique Timeline”. Article, https://www.dropbox.com/s/6hdmmvpi8tegs7m/Getting_PerspectiveTL.pdf?dl=0.

[3] Poole, 43.

[4] Poole, 65.

[5] Poole, 75.

About the Author


Joel Zantingh

Joel Zantingh serves as the Canadian Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance's Peace and Reconciliation Network, and as Director of Engagement with Lausanne Movement Canada. He has served in local and national roles within the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, and led their global mission arm. He has experience teaching in formal and informal settings with Bible college students and leaders from various cultures and generations. Joel and Christie are parents to adult children, as well as grandparents. They reside in Guelph, Ont., situated on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and home to many past, present and future First Nations peoples, including the Anishinnabe and Hodinöhsö:ni'.

11 responses to “Growing In Mastery, but not Ignoring What I’ve Got”

  1. Julie O'Hara says:

    Hi Joel, I am also realizing the importance of celebrating areas of ‘mastery’ although I might call them areas of growth. In what ways might celebration, as a discipline/practice, specifically enhance leadership?

    • Great question, Julie. Celebrating the skills one has must not lead to self-reliance, an unwillingness to continued development, or arrogance.

      So how might it enhance leadership? The context of celebration is them moment of recognizing it in others, and therefore celebration is done best in community. This is the other side of the apprenticeship picture. When someone else presents their Cadgwith font in miniature, and you know what you’re looking at, it is because you are pointing to skill you possess that enable you to see in another, and so it becomes a shared celebration. What are your thoughts?

      • Julie O'Hara says:

        Hi Joel, Yes, I agree that celebration in community is best. Particularly when a leader uses a public opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of another person. It is very honoring. I also believe that what gets celebrated gets repeated much like the idea of Poole that whatever the leader pays attention to, so will the ‘followers.’ Right now I am thinking of the example of celebrating women and men in the local church as they take steps towards ordination. When the gathered community can see “Hey, they are just like me!” then they may be increasingly willing to release their own gifts.

  2. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hi Joel, Interesting thoughts. I was intrigued by “Have I perhaps discounted the templates, skills, and mastery which has been forming over time? “. I had to sit with that for a minute. I wonder if most people have had leadership skills forming who they are, and first, didn’t know it, and second, discounted what they actually knew. What would you say to a young pastor or upcoming leader on digging deeper into what they have been shown?

    • Great question, Chris. I remember having a lot more arrogance when I was young, and mentors did less affirming and more challenging. In order for templates and skills to develop over time, I believe a balance of both is needed.

      Young leaders need affirmation of what we see in them that’s gold (Comacho). But there are other skills that they need to continue to hone. It is my belief that we enable the growth and development of leadership mastery over time by ensuring both are present in formal (staff reviews) and informal (conversations) settings. How do you see it?

      • mm Chris Blackman says:

        Completley agree with you Joel. The only thing I would add is that they all find a long term mentor to give guidance and honest thoughts to them. When we lost our business because of COVID, I knew I had made a lot of mistakes that were the real reason for losing it. COVID just accelerated it. The day after we closed the company, I went and had coffee with the man from whom we bought the company (he was my old boss), and he was real with me with his thoughts. I knew at that moment that I should have met with him regularly to glean his wisdom over the years and learn from him. It would have made a huge difference for me/us.

  3. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for your post. I find it inspiring to learn about the journey you have undertaken and the approach you have adopted in your consulting work with churches and mission organizations. Your decision to provide transitional coaching, rather than stepping into the role of an interim pastor, showcases your strategic thinking and your dedication to making the most of your skills and the talented staff around you.
    Your reflection on Eve Poole’s ‘Leadersmithing’ and Dr. J Robert Clinton’s Leadership Emergence Theory enriches my understanding of leadership development. Your take on the significance of acknowledging and celebrating the mastery that naturally evolves over time, rather than relentlessly pursuing improvement, is profound.

    What led you to choose the role of Transitional Coach over Interim Pastor for the church you consulted with?

  4. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Joel – thanks for your post. I find that the templates we’ve created can be very helpful. Many of them are quite subconscious though, so I found it helpful to see Poole’s list of leadership traits in order to process those.

    Do you have any templates that you refer to often? My most common templates are conversational leadership and conflict resolution.

  5. Elysse Burns says:

    Joel, I was encouraged to read your experience of turning down an interim pastor role at this specific church to focus on coaching its existing team. Perhaps, it has just been my experience, but I believe this is rare. It’s awesome to hear your decision to walk alongside this team was more beneficial than if you were in an interim position. I believe the Lord gave you much wisdom and discernment. And just maybe you developed some new templates from this experience?

  6. Akwése Nkemontoh says:

    Joel, I love hearing the surpise gift in this and the invitation to bring it all back to God, the provider of templates!

    When you said “Have I perhaps discounted the templates, skills, and mastery which has been forming over time?” my mind immediately went to the importance of reflection and celebration as we grow because I think it’s all too common that we miss or discredit our own “mastery”.

    With all this great new insight, what else have you learned about your leadership growth, value add and how/where you want to focus your support as a consultant?

  7. Chad Warren says:

    Thank you for the introduction to Dr. J Robert Clinton’s Leadership Emergence Theory. This is a new theory, and I appreciate the connection to Eve Poole’s work. You mention that it has been helpful to review your own timeline. What in particular is helpful about that exercise?

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