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

Living Display

Written by: on December 19, 2019

Many years ago, I found my voice and passion for writing in the theatre. The ability to create works of fiction that imitates life without the complication of reality was fascinating. It was exhilarating to become a different version of myself without fear of rejection. Being trusted to lead the audience on a journey of my imagination revealed that I found my home in theatre and theatre found its home within me.

Transitioning from reality to fiction was a calculated act but with seamless energy as an actor’s quick change between scenes. However, transitioning from the world of theatre back to reality had its complications.

Theatre is, in its simplicity, is a birthing experience that breaths life to the imagination on the stage. Actors are able to become people they only dreamt of being. The actors rehearse the prewritten script over a thousand times and memorize the staging of each scene. The actor flows in expressions, emotions, and movements of the other actors in the play to create works of wonder, suspense, drama, and intrigue.

There is no prewritten script to life. The character in life’s story is you, and the world is your stage. There is no rehearsal time to prepare you on how to react to life and circumstances. There are no alternate characters you can portray in the stage of life. At any given moment, the act or scene can change, and you have to be able to adapt.

Act I – Theatre to Church Leadership

The days of theatre turned its page as the entryway to life expanded, and its captive audience changed to congregation members.  Preparation, the amateur role of leadership, took years perfecting. In theatre, there is time for character study and development. In church leadership, often, the character study and development are a part of the leadership joinery. The way of passage is the discovery of the leader’s voice and leadership style. It includes embodying the challenges of the mental, emotional, and even vocal traits which contribute to the essence of the leadership capacity to lead. Eventually, as to the acts of life advance, so to the amateur role of leadership transforms into supporting role or leading role.

Act II – Spotlight

Discerning how much to give of oneself in the spotlight has always been an area of frustration for me. As a child, I was taught to color within the lines, though I was quite the rule breaker. In my teenage years, I was taught how to guard my emotions and my heart, limit those from getting too close. In adulthood, I was taught to create a persona of oneself that gives limited exposure to the inner domains of who you quintessentially are; never could grasp the ideology behind this lesson. The dynamics of leadership create an extra barrier in the spotlight.

Being in the spotlight of leadership, one has to manage both the front stage and the backstage. In Simon P. Walker’s Undefended Leader, he highlights how these two stages are interrelational and are beneficial in leadership.

The front stage is explicit, visible, and tangible; it a place where the audience thinks it sees the entirety of its leader’s strength, ambitions, vision, and wisdom. The backstage is implicit, the buried and hidden parts of doubts, weaknesses, failures, and insecurities.

For me, the front stage and the backstage have always coexisted; maybe that is due to my love of the theatre. In the spotlight of the theatre, the actor s to share a part of the character’s persona the audience; as in the spotlight of in church leadership, the leader gets to share a portion of himself/herself with the church team and congregation.

In reality, people want to know the leader on the front stage and the backstage, if the leader has the willingness to step out into the braving elements of trust. The stage as a whole unite becomes a place where vulnerability-based trust is established. The place where leaders“comfortably and quickly acknowledge, without provocation, their mistakes, weaknesses, failures, and needs for help. They also recognize the strengths of others, even when those strengths exceed their own.”[1]

Act III – Letter Read By Man

In 2014, I remembered walking off the platform after leading worship, and the senior pastor congratulated my husband and me for going back to seminary for Masters in Ministerial Leadership, which we only posted on social media. A little amused and perplexed since neither of us knew he would be interested in our lives. We had only been on staff there for approximately a month, and our positions seemed less significant to us. However, there we stood in front of a senior pastor of a megachurch who seemed interested in the lives of his staff. I will never forget how he closed the conservation with this statement and a smile as he headed to the platform to preach his Sunday message, “when you are in leadership, your life in on display, and everyone is watching.”

Previously, I had used a statement similar to the one he delivered on that day, but for some reason, this time, the latter part of the statement took on a new meaning. It reminded me of the scripture that states you are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;  clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart[2]. It also made me realize that the truth in living as an undefended leader, the choices you make to live an undefended, to lead as an undefended leader, are not made for the sake of balance or wellbeing; they are made for a greater good. And that greater good is to set people free.[3]

[1] Lencioni, Patrick M. “The Trouble with Teamwork.” Leader to Leader 2003, no. 29 (2003): 36.

[2] 2 Cor. 3:3-4 (NKJV).

[3] Simon P. Walker, The Undefended Leader 1 Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership: Leading Out of Who You Are (Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007), 124.




About the Author

Shermika Harvey

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