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

Leading in Choppy and Calm Waters

Written by: on March 25, 2024

The line that jumped out at me while reading Rethinking Leadership by Annabel Beerel was: “During times of radical uncertainty, leaders need psychological strength, emotional balance, and courage to navigate the choppy waters ahead.” [1] I believe this sums up my current leadership needs.  

My brother and cohort friend, Greg McMullen, recently shared a vision that the Lord gave him for my family. [2] He said that he saw two different scenes. The first scene was of a water skier who was struggling to hold on to the handle as the waters were very tumultuous with the ski boat pulling him. The second scene was of a skier who was confidently cutting back and forth over the wakes with glassy water. After I read this from Greg, I texted him and asked him if he knew that our family was an avid water ski family, and he said he had no idea that we were water skiers. 

This vision spoke to me, giving me hope and reassurance that God is going to bring calmer waters in the future. The waters are choppy right now, and I am finding it hard to hold on. In addition to this vision that Greg shared, I am leaning into what I might learn from this chapter in Rethinking Leadership.  At the end of the chapter on the psychology of leadership, there are three questions that the author provides readers to reflect on their learnings.[3] In this blog I will answer these three questions. 

1.)    What practices do you engage in to develop and expand your own psychological capacity?

Counseling:  Recently my husband sought out an older couple in our church to give us counsel as they went through a similar experience that our family is currently in. I appreciate their example and their desire to relate to us, pray with us, and can empathize with the emotional burden we are carrying. 

Communicating vulnerably: I have several friends with whom I am able to share honestly.  These are people I share prayer requests with. I know the people who I am able to call and process difficult issues in my life as I have given them permission to speak candidly into these issues. I know that I need to be in communication with these trusted friends and not isolate or become emotionally distant. “It takes courage to set aside one’s ego and be vulnerable.” [4]  These are people who know that I am there for them as well.

Reading Scripture: I read Scripture in the morning and I often write out a verse that speaks to me in a journal. This is a grounding exercise for me. I am encouraged in God’s word, and it allows me to start the day knowing that God has seen me, hears me, and cares for my needs.  There is a notable difference in my day when I do not keep this practice.

2.) Which sections of this chapter resonated with you the most?

In understanding courage, the author notes that “Aristotle observed that we become brave by doing brave acts.” [5] There is a lot that lies ahead on my calendar that will require bravery.  There are major life events in the lives of three of my children. Two of my daughters are getting married this year, and I am beginning to realize the change that is coming in the relationships. I will participate in these life events with the mindset that God is with me and will give me strength.

I thought the author shared an interesting psychological perspective when she states that leaders “are personally nourished by their psychological energy, persistence, and tough mindedness.” [6]  I am sure that I need to prioritize other doctoral assignments currently, but I am attempting to work backwards in completing this last blog. I know that I use this psychological strategy for myself to gain momentum, in getting the last requirement done, I have a sense of being closer to having my doctorate degree and can accomplish what is left to be done. 

3.)    Would you say you are courageous, and do you have clear examples to support your opinion?

I know that I need to enter deep self-awareness, allowing myself to “glimpse into the soul that is longing for expression.” [7] As a marriage and family therapist, I can provide this opportunity for others, but how much do I pursue this personally? I have established a trusting relationship with my spiritual director and I look forward to these appointments. This provides the time and space to share what is going on at a deeper level.

As a marriage and family counselor, I am aware of the power I hold in the counseling office. In Primal Leadership, the authors write that “leadership is first and foremost about emotions and that this dimension determines the effectiveness of everything else the leader does.” [8] I must be aware of my client’s emotions and what might be the most effective intervention at any given time during a session. I must be courageous to use restraint (withhold my input) with my clients as it is important to pace with them and discern when to challenge or question when I sense resistance to change. I believe I must use courage in following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

I know I could benefit from reading about the different theories of leadership that Beerel includes in Rethinking Leadership. I gleaned a lot from the chapter on the psychology of leadership. I will keep this resource and use it in the future as I lead in choppy and calm waters.


[1] Annabel Beerel, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories, (Routledge: New York) 2021, p.130

[2] Kristy Newport, Fifty Shades of Freud Blog Post March 19, 2024; Greg McMullen’s comments March 22, 2024, 3:45. 

[3] Annabel Beerel, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories, (Routledge: New York) 2021, p.130

[4] Ibid. p.112

[5] Ibid. p.113

[6] Ibid. p.110

[7] Ibid. p.117

[8] Ibid. p.119

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Kristy Newport

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