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

It’s Okay To Be Robust!

Written by: on November 22, 2023

Antifragile will remain one of my favorite books from this program. I will continue to come back to this book from time to time.[1] To be honest with you, I felt it was one of the few books that really identified with me. I have been challenged with church growth models, methods and systems over biblical ministry. I greatly struggle that culture influences the church rather than the church influencing today’s culture. Often, we worship a form or system more than Jesus and living life organically. Often, when there is a shock to the system or culture, people and organizations tend to struggle with identity and what to do now. As Covid brought a tremendous shockwave to many countries, organizations, systems, and churches, our little pentecostal church went from being a charismatic place of worship to orphanage of many people struggling, especially with fear and little hope for the future. Anxiety was at an all time high as the color of your skin, ethnicity, race, gender, no longer mattered. Everyone was hurting and fragile pieces of our ego where exposed and in some cases causing harm to others.

From Friedman in Failure of Nerve we learned that often people who suffer from high anxiety can often sabotage a leader or organization.[2] From Mining For Gold by Camacho he referenced the Identity Gifts Teaching from Romans 12.[3] Tom uses the Identity Gifts in ministry and coaching leaders. We see the list of Identity Gifts from the Bible. The Identity Gifts are different from other 5-fold giftings, as they come from God. The other giftings come from Jesus or the Holy Spirit. We see the 7-Identity Gifts:

  1. Prophet
  2. Servant
  3. Teacher
  4. Exhorter
  5. Giver
  6. Ruler
  7. Mercy

From certain denominations such as Foursquare, Assemblies of God and non-denominational we see that the Teacher gifting and Mercy gifting are more susceptible to having more anxiety than the other giftings. Therefore, mercy and teacher giftings can stir up trouble in groups, business and ministry without realizing it because of fear and blame. These giftings often come against the work of an individual, leader, organization, and church (especially a robust leader). Often they are doing the work of the devil in an organization, rather than the work of God.

It’s Okay To Be You!

Not only is it okay to be you, but to have a hairy chest as well. I have never really fit into the hip pastoral culture. I cannot get skinny jeans past my calves. I often rip out the shoulders of my jackets. I get nervous ordering at a coffee shop, even worse meeting at a coffee shop. I start to get nervous and squirm. However, if we do a simple task together such as serving, hiking or fishing, I’m your best friend, infact in these situations, I am an amazing pastor. If there is a challenge or crises, I seem to go to a different level in leadership. Through Taleb’s book Antifragile, we can identify these traits of leadership and systems:

  • There are three types of things: fragile, robust, and antifragile.
  • Fragile things weaken when subject to volatility.
  • Robust things can handle volatility.
  • Antifragile things become stronger when subject to volatility.
  • All systems have a minimum volume of volatility. It’s normal and it should be tolerated.
  • When you suppress the volatility in a system, you let the pressure accumulate until the system explodes.

It’s Still Okay To Be You!

Through this program, we have such a wide and wonderful range of vocations from ministry, academia, business, and more. It is truly amazing to learn about each other and how God has created and gifted us. Through Antifragile, I came to a place that it’s okay being a robust leader and resilient leader. I realize that our ministry would not have been so successful through the food system crashing in Washington State if I was not a Robust. Through this time, robust leaders rose up and were heavily criticized for helping others. The importance of becoming Antifragile is a must. It’s even better if you make some friends along the way that can help you order coffee, be a little more aware.


Friedman invites leaders to be courageous. In Joshua 1:9 God encourages Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”[4] It’s okay to be strong and courageous. It’s okay to be resilient in times of crises.[5] It’s okay to lead. Leaders are the first to respond and the first to walk out in front of everyone and making a new way, map, or trail. People are always going to throw rocks, the enemy is always going to shoot arrows. All these books and this program have added to our armor, our shield. The knowledge has added to our form and sword so the truth we speak will penetrate deep. We are doctors, we have the training and know how to do and how to lead! Like a well trained boxer, we all need to go to the corner and have our coach speak into us. However, that bell is going to ring soon and it’s time to get back into the fight.

[1] Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile. Penguin UK, 2012.

[2] Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve. Church Publishing, Inc., 2017.

[3] Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold. Inter-Varsity Press, 2019.

[4] Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

[5] Bolsinger, Tod. Tempered Resilience. InterVarsity Press, 2020.


About the Author


Greg McMullen

Pastor Greg resides in Lake Stevens WA and pastors a small rural church in the Machias area . The Well Church has a large food ministry in which many different cultures come each week to gather food and counsel. The Church has a small school that is bearing good fruit. Pastor Greg has a large family of 10 children and enjoys fishing and hiking.

6 responses to “It’s Okay To Be Robust!”

  1. mm Daron George says:

    Hey Greg!

    Considering the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of different spiritual gifts, especially in times of crisis, how can leaders better leverage these diverse traits within their teams or congregations to foster a more robust and antifragile community?

  2. Excellent synopsis, Greg. I have greatly valued your unique contributions throughout this program, so I’m glad you’ve come to a place where you see your strengths, as well! What are some specific ways that the Word of God helps you to be antifragile in such a complex and challenging context?

  3. Laura,

    Thank you. I would have to say Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous and wherever you go, I will be with you.

    I’m starting to wonder if Joshua struggled with some anxiety and fear. Often when people come up to me and say they have a word from the Lord for me and quote Joshua 1:9, it has become a warning or red flag for me that tribulation is coming and to simply go through it.

  4. Kristy Newport says:

    you say:
    “Not only is it okay to be you, but to have a hairy chest as well”….Hairy chest or no hairy chest…I get what you’re saying! 🙂 😛

    I am curious about this point you make:
    “All systems have a minimum volume of volatility. It’s normal and it should be tolerated.”
    How do we, as leaders, know when this “good volitility/minimum volatilty” is beginning to be too much? How might we gauge this/see signs for increased volatility? I agree that that there should be some and accepted. Any thoughts on this?

  5. Kristy,

    Really good question. It is so important to be led by the Spirit and have the gifts of the Holy Spirit in leadership. In this case, the gift of discernment to gauge what is from God, what is from the flesh, what is from Satan.

    We should be people of grace and allow growth in people. However, when a person is not teachable and walking in a place of error, ego, or pride there is nothing you can do until they come into a place of humility.

    Pride is a dangerous pitfall for leaders, especially leaders who have not been broken before the Lord. Remember that old saying, never sit under a pastor who does not have a limp. Hope this helps.

    God Bless

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