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

Leadership is Critical to Organizational Growth, but Christian Leadership is Unique.

Written by: on February 10, 2023

Warner is the president of Deeper Walk International. He is a former pastor and college professor who has authored several books on topics ranging from studying the Bible to spiritual warfare, emotional healing, and leadership. Wilder is a psychologist and theologian. Their book, Rare Leadership, looks at leadership from the right-brain perspective.[1] They use their research in psychology to teach leaders how to return to joy from negative situations and emotions. The authors have identified the rare four Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead.  The authors avoid all the superficial layers of activities, techniques, and strategies in favor of the habits that make for genuine Christian leadership: (1) Return to the joy of Christian community; (2) Act as our Christian selves; (3) Remain relational; and (4) Endure hardship. One of the promised results is persevering through suffering, which so many works on leadership ignore and avoid.

But the most critical aspect of Rare Leadership is the emphasis on identity, who, and whose we are; this makes Christian leadership unique. This aspect is the most elusive in leadership literature. Most leadership literature often takes a business model instead of an ecclesial one, emphasizing activities, techniques, programs, and other visible displays of one’s ability. As Christians, we find our identity in Christ as we nurture our relationship with God as we’re transformed from one glory to another till we attain maturity in Christ and conform to the likeness of Christ. When we return to the roots of Christian identity, we learn about leadership as real people in the Christian community.

Building healthy teams begin with healthy leaders, and emotional maturity is at the heart of this dynamic. Emotional maturity is the quality the most outstanding leaders possess, a quality that has been referred to as emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Goleman clearly explains that we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels. “The fact that the thinking brain grew from the emotional reveals much about the relationship of thought to feeling; there was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one.”[2] For visionary leaders, it starts when you desire to take your organization to the next level. Reading Rare Leadership as a Christian leader of an organization was inspiring, and I believe it equipped me to start working towards building joy-filled, emotionally mature, relationally connected teams. There is a lot that authors use brain science and some leadership models to show how leaders can Remain relational, Act like the Christian self, return to joy, and model what it’s like to endure hardship. They demonstrate the possibility of developing a sliding maturity scale that all leaders can measure themselves against.

Rare Leadership is full of personal, emotional, and precise stories that help understand the four uncommon habits and the skills the authors are trying to impart. In addition, they have developed the Thrive training, which they use to train many Christian leaders to build these four very doable habits, attain emotional maturity, and thrive relationally. All this is achieved through solid theology, cutting-edge brain science, and decades of counseling and consulting experience.

As a way of retrospection, I look at these four habits that make Christian leadership unique.

  1. Remaining relational is a critical first task, where I learn not to withdraw inwards and remain sullen when faced with negative emotions but rather leap forward in remaining a dependable team member. It reminds me of Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of nerve “non-anxious presence.”[3] Ben Stein is quoted as saying, “Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”[4]
  2. Act like yourself. This is about who and whose you are, essentially referring to our identity in Christ. the Bible in Daniel 11:32 (NASB) says, “…but the people who know their God will be strong and take action.” Peter Drucker is quoted as saying, “Being a self-leader is to serve as chief, captain, president, or CEO of one’s own life.”
  3. Returning to joy. Having the ability to return to joy from negative emotions. The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grief, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Mark Twain says, “The healthiest response to life is joy.”
  4. Enduring hardship well. The Bible in 2 Timothy 2:3 says, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Likewise, C.S. Lewis says, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

The benefits of reading the book are being equipped to cultivate emotional maturity in yourself and others; developing the four habits of R.A.R.E. leaders; promoting a solid group identity; keeping relationships bigger than problems; and increasing productivity through trust, joy, and engagement. As a Christian leader, whether you are burnt out or just looking to improve, prioritizing people and leading from a secure identity will be the key to experiencing freedom as a leader and producing great results. You can lead from a healthy place, respond rather than react, and build the team of your dreams. Healthy churches and other faith-based organizations will take the kind of healthy leadership that grows and doesn’t rely on using emotions to browbeat others into obedience which is also true in the business world. Warner and Linder use the Bible to back up their findings and constantly return to that authority. It is easy to fall into the trap of motivating people with fear when in reality, it should be the joy that’s our motivator.

[1] Warner, Marcus & Wilder, Jim. Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead. (Chicago, IL, USA. Moody Publishers, 2016).

[2] Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. (New York City, NY, USA. Random House Publishing Group, 2005).

[3] Friedman, Edwin. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. (New York, NY, USA. Seabury Books, 2007).

[4] This quote is attributed to Ben Stein, an American Lawyer, Writer, and Actor from Washington DC and a professor of political and social content at The American University.

About the Author


Mary Kamau

Christ follower, Mother of 3 Biological children and one Foster daughter, Wife, Pastor, Executive Director of Institutional Development and Strategy in Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

6 responses to “Leadership is Critical to Organizational Growth, but Christian Leadership is Unique.”

  1. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Mary: I liked the focus of this book stressing the importance of people over a list of responsibilities that I am trying to check off. It boils down leadership to people helping, teaching, other people. Especially in a Christian setting, people always have to be the priority. It is hard to always keep that in focus, but this book helps. Nice post.

  2. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Mary: I wonder with an organization your size, how have you found yourself to be able to remain relational in the midst of the never-ending list of things to do?

    • mm Mary Kamau says:

      Thank you, Kayli. Being relational involves establishing a connection, primarily emotional, that allows the leader some leverage to positively influence people; some of it is one-on-one. Still, most of it is distant for me and is enhanced by constant and intentional communication with our staff and other ministry stakeholders. Edwin Friedman, in A Failure of Nerve, talks about the non-anxious presence of the leader who retains his focus amid emotional anxiety and negative energy within the organization.

  3. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Mary, What do you see are the connections of Friedman’s non-anxious presence that can also inform the other aspects of R.A.R.E.?

  4. mm Mary Kamau says:

    Thank you, Nicole, for your question; non-anxious presence and R.A.R.E are both about being in control of your emotions; understanding the emotions of others; maintaining focus instead of being carried along by negative emotions; and being able to relate positively with people, which is essentially emotional intelligence.

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