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

Leader: Expert At Everything…NOT!

Written by: on September 13, 2019

I recently read a short story about leadership that intrigued me. It was thought-provoking and powerful in many ways because it helps put our role as ‘leaders’ into perspective.

                Judas Iscariot had…

                                The best pastor

                                The best leader

                                The best advisor

                                The best counselor

               Yet…he failed.

The problem is often not the leadership or the church someone goes to. It is within them ~ the follower. If one’s heart doesn’t transform and their attitude or character doesn’t change, they will always be the same – even if they serve under the best leader ever!

I found Collin’s analysis of what does not make a good company become great to be more fascinating than looking at what does make a good company become great. Compensation, strategy, motivation and/or name recognition did not create “greatness.” The author noted that greatness was found to be not a function of circumstances, but instead largely a matter of conscious choice.[1] I think a “God-touch” also helps!

Leadership holds a different meaning for me today than it did a number of years ago as I was serving as Director of the American Red Cross and the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission over a 20-year span. Back then, leader to me meant “expert of everything, designer and implementer of ALL projects, powerful fund development director, and highly recognized face in the community.” I felt that I had to be it all! My internal vision put so much pressure and expectation upon myself. I thought I needed to know it all and make it all happen, because the “ball stops here” and I needed that ball to keep rolling – which I thought was my responsibility. At the time, it was my Type A personality that led me; not my faith in a loving Father who was there to guide me down this roadway called “life.”

Being a leader has a new meaning to me as I’ve moved away from the “needing to get ahead” phase of my life and settled into my “journey with Christ” leadership role. As a Chaplain, I don’t see myself as a leader, but instead as a humbled servant. But I believe there is influence in that as well. In Leadership Theory, Northouse describes leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”.[2] I love the author’s use of the word “process” versus more common terms of leadership (as defined in Oxford Dictionary as “boss, supervisor, and/or commander.”) Because leadership is not one person, but truly a process towards a means – it takes working together with others for the goal to be reached.

I have not viewed myself so much as a leader over the past few years – as I have moved from a highly visible community presence position into the role of a humbled servant as a Chaplain. Yet, I’ve never felt more fulfilled and I am in awe as I see my patients learning and emulating the gifts I bring to them through the Word. There is no competition, no having to prove myself, no façade. I am just serving others to help them find peace and contentment at the end of their life. Missing from this picture are the administrative duties, the company politics, and the weight that leadership generally brings with it.

As a servant leader, I love that it is not about my agenda, but about theirs! There is no “me” in Chaplaincy; it is all about THEM! My role is to hear my patient’s heart and to help them find peace on their final journey on earth. Leading them to eternal life is my leadership goal, but sometimes a hardened heart can block that opportunity. Just like it was with Judas ~ the final choice is theirs! And even with leaders utilizing best leadership practices, followers still make choices that cause them to fail.


[1] Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), 11.

[2] Peter Northouse, Leadership Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015), 44.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

7 responses to “Leader: Expert At Everything…NOT!”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Love this Nancy. I too was so interested in what Collins found important “NOT” to do. It seems like many people (Americans, at least) focus on creating only positive learning experiences. Unfortunately, this means we often overlook the importance of learning from the negative experiences, either from our own life, of from others. Thank you for lifting up how important the things “not” to do are for all of us.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for the response to my blog, Jacob. Looking forward to reading your post as well. And yes, I agree. I think we often learn more from what does not always go right for us…or as Collins notes that greatness is found to be not a function of circumstances, but instead largely a matter of conscious choice. It was an interesting read!

  2. This is great insight Nancy, I have noted that there is an element of seeking excellence/quality in the task oriented American culture that is for the most part is missing in our relationship based African culture, we’re less concerned about quality that protecting relationships. While we embrace the warmth of our relationship based culture, I believe that there’s need to embrace the importance of seeking excellence to transform our society. As pointed out, it takes the touch of God for the transformation of the heart, do you think the church holds the key to mass transformation of any society in seeking Christian revival?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for your response, Wallace. It’s very insightful. And yes, I think the church (both within us as a ‘church’ individually as well as the church as a whole body of people) holds the key to revival. But I do believe that the church can be just one person standing alone as a church as well as a full congregation. So the answer is within all of us – individually and as a body. Thanks for your feedback, Wallace.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Great insight, Harry! Thanks for your input. I like the philosophy that we grow into different leadership opportunities throughout our life. I totally agree! Isn’t it amazing that when we are within our calling (which I think changes focus throughout our lives), we are fulfilled in the role we are serving? It’s so beautiful when the pieces all fit, eh, my friend? Blessings….

  3. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    After reading your post, I see you as both humble and willful. Therefore, you are a bonafide Level 5 leader! I think it interesting you included stage-of-life leadership perspectives. You are the same person, the same leader, but you see things differently now compared to then. Perhaps not better versus bad but different. No doubt this leadership process is not only about how others collaborate together but also how we grow into different leadership opportunities throughout our life. Bless you, my friend!

  4. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Sorry, Harry. I actually replied to you under Wallace. Sorry about that!

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