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

Leading with Care: Dare to Be RARE

Written by: on February 23, 2024

“God’s sovereign searching of our hearts, and then His call to leadership,

are awesome to behold. And they make a person very humble.”

-Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder-


Allow me to start this article by reciting a poem entitled “The Pastor”:

If he/she is young, he/she is considered to lack experience

But if his/her hair is gray, he/she is considered too old

If his/her family is big, he/she is a burden on the congregation

If he/she doesn’t have children, he/she is not worthy of being an example

If his/her wife/husband is active, he/she is accused of wanting to assert himself

If not, his/her wife/husband will not support the Pastor’s ministry


If he/she preaches while reading, it’s very boring

If the sermon is out of your head, it’s a sign that you haven’t prepared yourself

If the sermon has a lot of examples, it is not Biblical enough

Otherwise, the sermon is too high

If the sermon is long, it makes people sleepy

If his sermon is short, he/she is a lazy pastor


If he/she fails to please someone, it means he/she is hurting his congregation

If he/she tries to please everyone, then he/she is a sycophant

If he/she is outspoken in the truth, he/she is considered offensive

Otherwise, he/she is considered a coward


He/she must be wise like an owl

Brave as an eagle

Humble as a dove

Willing to eat anything, like a canary

He/she must be an economist, politician, fundraiser, marriage counselor

An authoritative, friendly taxi driver

An accomplished orator and wise shepherd


He/she had to see everyone get sick, everyone gets married, and everyone dies

He/she has to mix with children, teenagers, young people, and even the elderly

He/she must be good at speaking and writing

He/she is a servant who must be humble, as well as an authoritative leader


I had difficulty finding the source where the poem was written. But the poem is very familiar to pastors within our denomination. It vividly portrays the dilemma a pastor faces in serving a congregation. All eyes seem to be fixed on him/her. Everyone appears armed with a pen and assessment board, ready to jot down comments about the pastor’s leadership. Regardless of what he/she does or says, it’s as if there is a predetermined template for evaluation. Positive actions seldom receive acknowledgment, while any misstep is met with repeated judgment. The expectations placed on a pastor are undeniably high, verging on the pursuit of perfection.

What is depicted in the poem, sooner or later, can make a pastor experience pressure, fatigue, and ultimately burnout. For this reason, a pastor needs peace that comes from God. A pastor needs to have the ability to find that peace. Warner and Wilder give some good advice, “Our ability to live at peace is directly related to our ability to be single-minded. One way to get your thoughts on the same page with God is to create a checklist of beliefs that feel true when your negative emotions are at their peak and begin to talk to God about them.”[1]

If a pastor has difficulty finding peace with God, then his/her ministry and leadership will become chaotic. Mediocre leaders tend to focus on problems and results rather than relationships.[2] This will bring them to a worse situation, “Consequently, they value results and solutions more than relationships. This tends to leave them isolated, overwhelmed, and operating out of a motivational system in the brain that virtually guarantees their pace will not be sustainable.”[3] Experiencing a loss of peace can precipitate emotional challenges within an individual. The contemporary landscape reveals a notable struggle among leaders and pastors in effectively navigating their emotional well-being. According to Warner and Wilder, individuals in leadership roles, particularly pastors, who encounter difficulties in emotional management are classified as “sandbox leaders.” They write, “Sandbox leaders are grown-ups in positions of responsibility whose lack of emotional maturity creates catastrophic consequences for their unsuspecting followers. The higher a person rises in leadership circles, the more devastating the impact of sandbox leadership can be, such as Churches split, affairs occur, leaders burn out, boards feud with staff, a trail of wounded people gets left in the dust.”[4]

Warner and Wilder used the research on the working system of the human brain which consists of fast and slow tracks. The results of their research show that the determinant in decision-making in the fast track in the human brain is identity. They explain, “Who we are determines what we will do and identity operates faster and more powerfully than choices.” Transformation within a person can occur when the combination of identity and sense of belonging strengthens. This combination is described in the term R.A.R.E, Remain relational (belonging), Act like yourself (identity), Return to joy (being glad to be together), and Endure hardship well (using hard times to bring us closer).[5] A pastor needs to always discern his/her calling so that his identity and sense of belonging become more deeply rooted. When these two elements are strengthened, a pastor or leader can find the direction and purpose of his ministry, even during difficult times, and guide the people with complete certainty. Warner and Wilder described this in a blunt statement, “This is who we are and this is how it is like us to act.”[6]

The interesting thing in Warner and Wilder’s writing is that they include the element of intimacy with God as an important part of the RARE leadership concept. They write that leaders cultivate our “spiritual receptivity” by practicing the presence of God.[7] According to them, God designed humans to be able to build a relationship with Him. “God designed us for relationship with Him. It would make no sense if our brains were not crafted by the Almighty to facilitate the experience of His presence.” John Calvin says human beings have a sense of divinity (sensus divinitatis), a sense that makes humans able to have a relationship with God.[8]

Assuming the post of pastor or leader has substantial hurdles. The introductory poem in this article vividly depicts the inherent challenges that those in such positions face in front of the congregations they serve. Nonetheless, an excellent leader who constantly cultivates closeness with God may overcome these problems and evolve into an effective leader, assuring the ongoing efficacy of their leadership or service.  “Warner and Wilder explain, “Effective leaders are set apart by the maturity that shows up wherever they go. Their maturity serves as a catalyst for everything they do. It helps them focus on the right issues and make sure they are giving their conscious attention to the right things.”[9] Presuming a leadership or ministry role is inherently difficult, but this book aims to make every aspect of leadership and ministry a source of visible, vocal, and holistic joy. This book endeavors to assist each pastor or leader in consistently embodying the qualities and integrity crucial for effective leadership and ministry.  Therefore, let’s always serve and lead with care, stay humble, and dare to be RARE.


[1] Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016), 185.

[2] Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership, 25

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 41-42.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 113.

[8] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. F. L. Battles, (London: S.C.M. Press, (1960), 44.

[9] Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership in The Workplace: 4 Uncommon Habits that Improve Focus, Engagement, and Productivity (Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, 2021), 21.

About the Author


Dinka Utomo

Dinka Nehemia Utomo is an ordained pastor of the Protestant Church in the Western part of Indonesia (Gereja Protestan di Indonesia bagian Barat or GPIB). He has served for more than 15 years. The first five years of his ministry were in the remote area of East Kalimantan, including people from the indigenous Dayak tribe in the small villages in the middle of the forest, frequently reached using small boats down the river. For more than 15 years, Dinka has served several GPIB congregations in several cities in Indonesia. He has always had a passion for equipping Christian families, teaching and guiding them to build equal relations between husband and wife, maintaining commitment, love, and loyalty, creating a healthy and constructive Christian family atmosphere, and rejecting all forms of violence and sexual violence. Dinka's beloved wife, Verra, is also a GPIB pastor. They have two blessed children. Dinka and his wife and children love to spend quality family time, such as lunch or dinner, and vacation to exotic places.

6 responses to “Leading with Care: Dare to Be RARE”

  1. mm Pam Lau says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post and the poem at the beginning. From your understanding of Scripture, working as a pastor and God’s calling to be humble–how might you best define Humility?

  2. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Pam! Thanks for questioning, it’s so brilliant.

    In all honesty, I may not have the best description of humility, but Christ’s deeds provide a perfect example. His self-emptying, immersion in the world’s lowliness and humiliation, and adoption of the position of a servant, all in simplicity and away from the temptation of worldly grandeur, provided an excellent example. However, Christ’s example goes beyond this: He willingly served with unshakable dedication and gave His life for a humanity that rejected and hated Him.
    Recognizing my intrinsic differences from Christ, I understand that repeating His examples is impossible. Nonetheless, I am determined to follow Christ’s example and develop humility in myself. The ultimate objective is through my life God be glorified always.

  3. Esther Edwards says:

    Thank you for sharing the poem. It truly shows the demands that pastors often feel. However, I love how you gave hope to show that excellent leaders “who constantly cultivate closeness with God may overcome these problems and evolve into an effective leader(s), assuring the ongoing efficacy of their leadership or service.” How might you encourage a young pastor who is feeling the pressure of what others think and help him remain hope-filled with his calling?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Esther!
      Your question is very insightful and challenging. Your question is not only not easy to answer but also not easy to do.

      First, I think it is important for them to regularly take part in recollection and contemplation activities which aim to always remind them of the initial call that God revealed to them.
      Second, I think it is very important to build a support system consisting of mentors, and senior pastors with integrity to share experiences and strategic tips to always remain faithful and fresh in ministry. Support from other more senior people will create a climate of friendship and support that keeps a pastor away from feelings of pressure and the threat of burnout.
      Third, I think the process of increasing capacity through continuous learning and professional development is also important for young pastors. For example, through ecumenical training, further studies, or involvement in international church conferences.

      Might be other strategies are much more effective than what I mentioned above. However, I believe that seriousness in providing support and strengthening to young pastors is indeed something that plays a significant role in the context of church ministry.

  4. Hey Dr. Dinka! I love reading your posts! You have such a shepherd’s heart and you definitely care about people.
    Based upon your post, which one of the RARE acronym is the easiest for you and why?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Dr. Todd!

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it! I learn many good things from you.

      To be honest, keeping to the term RARE is not simple. It is difficult to maintain relations when confronted with disappointment or hurt. Then, acting like myself becomes tough when confronted with problems and temptations, pushing us to portray a different mask. Subsequently, returning joy is rarely an easy effort when one problem lingers while another arises. Finally, enduring hard times becomes difficult when it appears that no one cares.

      Nevertheless, I am not pessimistic. It’s because my ideal role model is Christ. Through prayer and work, I hope to become more like Him, incorporating His examples into my ministry and leadership.


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