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

Let’s ask questions like Lincoln

Written by: on March 8, 2019

“If most of our body is made of water, why don’t I just fall to pieces when I get in the bathtub?”

“Why is it so hard for people to decide things? When we go out for recess, we just play the game that seems the most fun. We don’t spend too long deciding because that means we don’t get to play.”

“I dream to be a missionary. Don’t they help God change the world? That’s the most biggest dream I can think of.”


These are all musings from my 8-year-old son, Lincoln. I love talking to Lincoln and his friends because they ask such amazing questions. They consistently push me to see more possibilities from perspectives that are different, less incombered than mine. They make my world bigger. I am amazed by their ability to ask each other’s questions and willingly accept perspectives so much different than their own. Their logic is so simple, cutting through the deepest fear.

Simple Habits for Complex Times taught me more about asking questions.[1] This book offered me an opportunity to pivot from my cause and effect hard-wiring to embrace more possibilities. Berger and Johnston offer a way forward in the rise of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity).[2] They propose that “your old patterns constrain you, and your old questions keep you in familiar territory.”[3] Conversely, this means that new and different questions give rise to new and different possibilities. In complex times, we must be willing to disregard our need to have all the answers and lead through questions that help people grow rather than keeping them small.

Asking different questions requires us to take a humble posture, inviting more voices to the table. Tourish expresses concern for leaders who have to have all the answers in The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership when he says, “the concentration of power in the hands of a few has not been a successful experiment in decision making.”[4] There is strength in multiple perspectives.

I find this to be true as I research the formation of female leaders in the renewal tradition. Even though there is still some debate among our churches as to the place of women in leadership, many women are finding a seat at the leadership table. However, I wonder if, during those years of debate, we neglected to ask the curious questions about the spiritual formation and development of those female leaders. I wonder if we were busy arguing for the seat at the table and forgot to ask the questions that would ensure these women were doing the deep work for preparedness once the seat was offered to them. Perhaps we were only looking at this problem from one perspective. Now I wonder, what does a model of Spirit-empowered formation and leadership development look like in the life of a female ministry leader?

Today, I need to learn from Lincoln and keep asking questions.





[1] Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston, Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders (Stanford, California: Stanford Business Books, n.d.). 198

[2] Ibid., 7.

[3] Ibid., 14

[4] Daniel Tourish, The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership (New York: Routledge, 2013). 7

About the Author

Rhonda Davis

Rhonda is passionate about loving her Creator, her wonderful husband, and her three amazing sons. She serves as VP of Enrollment Management & Student Development at The King's University in Southlake, TX.

11 responses to “Let’s ask questions like Lincoln”

  1. Karen Rouggly says:

    I love the innocence of children. Their questions are so straightforward and so simple. I appreciate my kids asking questions (sometimes) because they force me to think differently. I am so intrigued by your thoughts on how maybe we were asking the wrong questions all along, as it relates to female leadership. Good thinking!

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Such a thought provoking post! It’s funny that once we reach a certain age we stop asking the “crazy” questions or stop dreaming the big dreams but if we do a quick scan of history it is often the people that don’t stop that make the biggest impacts on the world. In my studying, I’m seeing the importance of social location as an empowering factor in leadership development and your question is a great one.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Mario, your research sounds so interesting. I would love to hear more about how social location impacts leadership development. I am finding similar patterns in my research. Let’s keep talking!

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Maybe this is why Jesus defined greatness as childlikeness! Great post and I think you are on to something with the questions of formation. Why formation? What is the motivation, to get a seat at the table? Is that the deepest reason? I look forward to your research.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, Tammy. Your questions are right on. I hope to go beyond the seat at the table and help women find motivation in deeper Christlikeness. I have a long way to go. 🙂

  4. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Rhonda, Thanks for the sharing the wisdom of the mindset of eight-year olds! Perhaps you should write a leadership book to that effect (or perhaps co-write one with Lincoln before he becomes too old and therefore like-wise encumbered!) I appreciate the candidness of applying your new found Garvey Berger & Johnston perspective to your research focus. Like all leadership development conundrums are we more focused on output or process? Thanks again for sharing your insights and I look forward to hearing more about your research.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Exactly, Harry. I am concerned we often focus on output over process. I desire to invite current and future female leaders to embrace deep formation and development. I hope they will commit to the process, even without the promise of opportunity. The research is exciting.

  5. Sean Dean says:

    I used to frustrate my mom with questions like, “Why are there wheelchair ramps going out of the church? Shouldn’t everyone be healed coming out?” It’s such an idealistic question, but it’s fraught with nuance and complexity. I think kids are great for setting our ideals – we should want everyone to be healed going out of church. My mom, bless her heart, decided rather than taking my ideals to heart to teach me about the nature of God’s will. As a 10 year old it was frustrating to me, but now I’m thankful for it. I love your questions about spiritual formation vs getting a seat at the table. In the fight for whatever you always need to be thinking about what comes next before you’re even done the fight. Keep questioning, I think you’re on a good path.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, Sean. I hope we always keep a healthy dose of idealism…it keeps us mindful of what could be. I’m learning as much for myself as I am for this research.

  6. Your blog Rhoda has made me miss the days my children were younger and kept me busy with all kinds of questions, I must admit that I got sermon messages from some of their innocent questions. Berger and Johnson’s book is gem for better leadership and I cannot wait to use questions that give you a humble posture to allow input from other capable leaders as I also give them opportunity to grow.

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