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

Learn to Rise Before Learning to be Brave

Written by: on April 12, 2019

Brown’s Dare to Lead describes the four skills needed to become a courageous leader. The first skill is Rumbling with Vulnerability. Brown had assumed that the biggest barrier to courageous leadership would be fear, but her research indicated that fear is not a barrier. The real barrier is how people armor themselves to deal with fear. Curiosity is the key to rumbling with vulnerability. The second skill is Living into Your Values. Courageous leaders can do tough things, give hard feedback, and put bold ideas into motion because they operate with a clear set of values and behaviors that line up with those values. The third skill, Braving Trust, can be tricky because many leaders don’t know how to talk about trust. It’s no secret that the highest performing teams are built on a foundation of trust and this skill that can be taught and learned. The fourth skill is Learning to Rise and deals with the ability to re-set after an error or mistake. The ability to be resilient helps leaders learn from mistakes quickly, share those learnings, and continue to move forward positively. In summation, “Courage is a skill set we can teach, measure, and observe, but we are choosing not to because it is an investment of energy and time  … If we need braver leaders, but we’re not investing in skilling them up, what is getting in the way?” asked Brown.[1]

When I saw Brown’s Dare to Lead on our reading list, I assumed it would be a source for my research on developing coaching networks to help facilitate adaptive leadership skills among church planters. After initially skimming the text, I thought while helpful; the focus was on leading oneself rather than others (this already doesn’t make sense!) Upon a closer read, I found Brown’s work not only helpful to my research but also quite an epiphany for me.

Brown describes curiosity as the DNA of the grounded confidence to rumble with vulnerability.[2] Curiosity is critical to staying open to oneself (“Haidt’s elephant” – that is, why am I reacting this way) as well as staying open to the other. The critical skill is applying curiosity when instead I would much rather “armor up” to protect my ego.[3] Brown describes several questions and starters to enhance the process of continuously listening and asking powerful open-ended questions. “Tell me more.” “I’m wondering …” “Help me understand…” are some of the staples of powerful questions used by coaches to help clients gain clarity. What Brown seems to contend is that we need to coach ourselves. That is, we need to pause, continue to listen (actively), and ask timely (powerful) questions to help the client gain clarity. The difference in this scenario from a classical coaching relationship is the courageous leader becomes both the client and the coach. This desired result speaks to one of the powerful collateral effects of coaching. That is that as pastors experience being coached, they also learn how to use coaching skills to develop others as well as themselves. Brown’s work contends that curiosity and knowledge-building grow together fostering a synergistic result.[4] Brown’s description of this symbiotic relationship illustrates how the clarity gained from coaching by the client not only helps them by becoming unstuck to achieve their goals but also to learn the critical association of coaching and acquisition of clarity.

Brown’s chapter on Learning to Rise is worth the cost of the whole book. In learning how to pastor local churches in general and planting new churches in particular, we (the Vineyard) always affirm the freedom to fail or fall forward in the right direction. However, I have always contended if we never teach or model this how does the pastor or church planter ever learn how to “rise or develop resiliency” after setbacks or failures. Brown contends she seldom sees the “fall forward” or “fail fast” slogans put into practice alongside actual reset skills and honest rumbles about the shame that almost always accompanies failure. I love Brown’s approach to teaching falling and failing upfront as people join her organization. “We expect you to be brave. That means that you should expect to fall. We’ve got a plan.”[5] I think this is the ultimate critical skill, the ultimate adaptive leadership perspective required to teach every pastor and church planter. I feel such passion for this because I see so many struggle and fail and not get back up. We who live and lead in the real world know we will always struggle and at times, fail. The key is to continue to rise, to reset, to learn, to grow healthier in service to ourselves and others. Learning to rise upfront enables us all to be amazingly brave for the long haul. I take my hat off to Brene Brown and look forward to incorporating her concepts in my coaching networks for church planters and pastors.

[1] Gordon, Chad, Blanchard LeaderChat, October 10, 2018, Accessed 04/09/2019. https://leaderchat.org/2018/10/10/brave-work-tough-conversations-whole-hearts-bren-brown-on-dare-to-lead/

[2] Brown, Brene, Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, and Whole Hearts (New York, NY: Random House, 2018) 171.

[3] Brown, Dare to Lead, 12.

[4] Brown, Dare to Lead, 175.

[5] Brown, Dare to Lead, 242.


About the Author

Harry Fritzenschaft

Harry is the Coordinator of Coaching for Multiply Vineyard (the church planting resource arm for Vineyard USA) and part-time pastor of business administration for the Vineyard Church of Houston. He is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and is pursuing a DMin in Leadership and Global Perspective with a focus on internal coaching networks. Harry has been married to Gloria for almost forty-two years and has two grown children; Michelle, who is married to Brandon and has two sons (Caleb and Judah), and Mark, who is engaged to Cannus. He loves making new friends (living and dead) from different perspectives, watching college football with Mark, and helping global ministry leaders (especially church planters and pastors) accomplish their goals in fulfilling their call. He especially loves learning about and nurturing internal coaching networks.

12 responses to “Learn to Rise Before Learning to be Brave”

  1. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thanks, Harry. I see coaching as a vital part of leaders learning how to do self-leadership, which I believe is the first step before leading others.

    I appreciate your passion for resilience and the attitude of Vineyard toward failing and falling forward. It is much more realistic and transformative than a driven approach to church growth and success.

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    As always thanks for your encouragement and affirmation. Unfortunately, as Brene Brown mentioned in her book, we talk about the safety of falling forward without explicitly teaching and training church planters about the critical need for reset skills. To me, this was the brilliance of Brown’s work and what I hope to incorporate in my research. I have been following your talks and praying for you. I can’t imagine how rigorous and challenging this must be for you and your family. I am grateful for you and your leadership to all you touch. Many blessings.

  3. Mario Hood says:

    I can’t tell if you like this book or not? 🙂

    I think more and more Pastor’s are learning that taking the coaching posture rather than the charismatic posture is more in line with Jesus. I’m looking into the curiosity factor in my research and asking questions is vital to remaining in a space of curiosity. Great post and great thoughts that have me thinking more :)!

  4. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks for your encouragement! I look forward to seeing how asking questions and remaining curious plays out in your research. I am so thankful for your scholarship and your leadership within the charismatic wing of our Church.

  5. Jenn Burnett says:

    20 years ago, when first applying for my candidacy for ministry I had to offer an analogy of how I saw the pastoral role. I offered a slightly different answer. I suggested that the role of the pastor is to be like the team captain. As the pastor you are in the same game, just with a specific role to spur the team on to offer their best in light of the given opposition. I think that’s why I love that you specify that the coach is meant to ask good questions. I always appreciated my various coaches’ input, but sometimes they just weren’t seeing the field the way I was, and they definitely weren’t feeling the hits the way I was. How do you manage as a coach when you see something significantly different than the person you are coaching? At what point would you just suggest their perspective is off? Following a good sports analogy, is there a point where you pull them from the game before things go really wrong? Brown’s approach does rely on people generally having some self awareness. I am very much looking forward to reading your work Harry!

    • Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Great questions! Jenn, if I understand your question, your are drawing attention to the disconnect between the coachee’s perception and obvious reality. For self aware persons, this gap should be smaller. However, I am seeing a growing need in coaching church planters to periodically step way back and evaluate reality compared to their dream for their church. I am working on some ideas with our mentor team to periodically (every six months) step back and re-evaluate both the coaching relationship (between the coach and the church planter) as well as how the plant is going versus the planter’s perception. This is why I thought Brown’s work was so brilliant to advocate for the teaching and training of reset skills up front. In general good coaching includes the skill of direct communication. However, this becomes much more complex and nuanced when the coach is responsible for the coachee’s performance. Conversely, it is much more straight forward to coach those you feel a responsibility to (e.g., adult children) as compared to those you feel responsible for (e.g., children at home). Great questions and I hope this helps!

  6. Sean Dean says:

    This is a thing we’re working with our kids about a lot right now. The middle one in particular has a hard time owning up to failure and so he continually tries to hide it or make excuses for it. Just this morning I had a conversation with him about how we all suck at things in the begging and that’s OK. It seems like he got it, but only time will tell. All that is to say, learning to fail well is a skill I hope to teach to my kids and I agree with you on its importance. Thanks for the post.

    p.s. Every time someone mentions having an epiphany, I get this picture in my head.

    • Andrea Lathrop says:

      Sean! Yes. This is where we are at with our son – I keep thinking he is being ‘sneaky’ and not owning up to poor choices or even accidents. We have been leaning in to teach him to own it so that we can all move on. It’s a part of life and happens with EVERYONE. I love how Harry pulled out the plan for after the failure. I missed that somehow but I’m gong back to it because that is powerful for leadership.

    • Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Kudos to you as you parent and lead your children well! I cannot think of a more critical life skill than learning to own and learn from mistakes/setbacks/failures. Even in the church (at least in the Vineyard) we talk much about a safe place to fail and recover. Unfortunately, we do not train and teach how to do this. This is why Brown’s emphasis on laying this out upfront so captured my thinking. Perhaps I utilize the term epiphany to much, your linked image made me laugh. Thanks for teaching me to never take myself seriously.

  7. Mary Mims says:

    Thanks Harry for your post. This week was really an eye-opener, I realize how much I really need to coach myself! Blessings

  8. Rhonda Davis says:

    Great post, Harry. Like others have mentioned, I appreciate your attention to life after failure. I am curious how often you find leaders who are willing to truly do the reset work after failure compared to those who just can’t face it. It seems that those who are open to coaching would be more of the former. Do you find this is the case?

  9. John Muhanji says:

    This is great Harry. I like this statement; I think this is the ultimate critical skill, the ultimate adaptive leadership perspective required to teach every pastor and church planter. Learning how to fail and fail in ministry is critical for every leader. But we find it hard my brother and many of us may not want to face these challenges of failing. If one knows that he will fail or fall after starting something he will not brave to start. But true to the point brown is courageous enough to bring you the aspect of learning to fail or fall to rise up strong. Rumbling vulnerability is a delicate skill for one to brave in leadership but Brown stresses it a lot. Thank you Harry for your write up. It is true that I will equally use this book in research paper.

Leave a Reply