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

Lying, Thieving, Socially Disinterested Blaggards

Written by: on November 9, 2019

Disclaimer. I use all the following products wth a sense of deep guilt. However, that guilt is not quite deep enough to eradicate these products from my life. Please accept my (almost)apology in advance.

I must say, for a man who spends his life in economics, teaching business, attending prestigious company boards and making vast amount of money personally, Scott Galloway’s The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google is remarkably witty.[1] In Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership, the writers refer to the foolish wise, great leaders who employ a jester to earth them and say things that no one else dare say – the jester humanises the leader.[2] I did wonder in reading Galloway if he wasn’t indeed something of a jester in review, because he humorously eviscerates the ethics of the original and incumbent leaders of the worlds most socially and financially influential companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Like Kets de Vries and Manfred, Galloway is an educated and experienced expert in the world of leadership. I imagine that in his teaching there are detailed company studies adjacent to granular research along with source material that offers evidence for claims made. However, as with Kets de Vries, Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership, Galloway’s, The Four, is really an educated opinion piece with a subtle amount of self-marketing – the man is no fool.

There are, however, some happy takeaways.

Many years ago I read Bob Buford’s popular book about midlife crisis called, Half Time.[3] It was a long way to tell a very short story. Basically, for men, let go of your desired utopian fantasy. Leave the young blonde and the Harley Davidson where they belong (with their husbands and in the showroom). Don’t try to be something new, be excellent at who you are. Galloway restates it. Do what are you good at, not what you are passionate about, and I for one am in agreement. Personally I find the word ‘passion’ to be one of the most appalling words in the dictionary. Whenever I hear Christian leaders use it, I find  those yet-to-be redeemed parts of my person surfacing in public (and now I’m going to be flooded with passion statements). Yes, you do need a bit of passion to get you going, but it rarely lasts the distance, and something more like competence and deep worldview carry you the rest of the way. Certainly, I’ve experienced it to be the case and observed it in others.

I was also taken by Galloway’s brief section in chapter 10 with the sub heading, Got to College.[4] It matters. I have known this most of my life. There’s a mantra in Christian circles that it doesn’t matter, but if you really want to make a difference, have a voice that’s heard and gain networks needed, then college provides a way. One of the things our denomination explores connects with Friedman’s Differentiated Leader model.[5] When we find young people with the capacity to make a difference in their part of the community but lack the resources, we fund them through college. As Galloway points out, education is only one part of the development equation, human networks change people’s trajectory and with them their families and communities. And, yes, we send them the best Colleges’ in New Zealand and Australia.

The other comment I found interesting was Galloways observation that a person should go where their skill is valued.[6] There’s a sense of serendipity for me because I have just recently navigated the conclusion of two pastoral ministries. Both needed to end, but neither was capable of making the move to leave. The reason? Christian Call. I hit this wall with pastors over and again. I’ve had to remind pastors that their Call (for want of a better term) is a spiritual vocation, not a geography. If God calls you to ministry, then it’s ministry to whoever crosses your path. If it’s to serve a people group, it doesn’t always mean living among them. If it’s to a nation, then it doesn’t always mean living in that nation. Often, circumstances determine geography, but not call. If your ministry is not appreciated, move on – Jesus did. In fact Jesus told the 12 and the 72 to stay where they were welcomed and to move one when they weren’t. Don’t stay where you skills and gifts and message is unfruitful. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in truth those exceptions are more complex than they are often made out to be.

Galloways emphasis on curiosity being a foundation for ongoing growth and development is obvious from much Of our reading, but he applied it well to those getting older. Stay curious about what you don’t understand or even find offensive. And alongside curiosity, manage your career. This latter observation is helpful. Too many pastors or missionaries or Christian community workers fail to realise that the world changes very quickly, so study, ongoing training and preplanned exit routes are essential for sustainable longterm ministry.

The largest disappointment of the book was the subtitle: the hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. At the end off the book I’m still not sure what that hidden DNA is? I can only surmise it as being the flare for anticompetitive behaviour with a penchant for theft and the daily hope that your direct competitors will fail leaving their technology open to bargain basement scavenging. Of course, marketing that skirts the boundaries of lying is an essential practice too, along with over-promising your product. However, if all this can be done in language that purports to be in the very best interests of the community, then all can be forgiven; unless of course your competitors try the same thing. In that case they are lying, thieving, socially disinterested blaggards with no public interest other than market share. #dnanotneeded



[1] Galloway, Scott. 2017. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Kindle. London: Penguin.

[2] Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. 2019. Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership: Leadership Pathology in Everyday Life. Kindle. The Palgrave Kets de Vries Library. Palgrave Macmillan. Loc 1777

[3] Buford, Bob. 1997. Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance. Zondervan.

[4] Galloway, The Four. 224

[5] Friedman, Edwin H. 2017. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Edited by Margaret M Treadwell and Edward W Beal. 10th Anniversary Kindle. New York: Church Publishing. Loc 407ff

[6] Galloway, Scott. The Four. 235

About the Author

Digby Wilkinson

I am currently the Vicar of the Tawa Anglican Church in Wellington, New Zealand. I have only been in this role since February 2018. Prior to this appointment, I was the Dean of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, which made me the senior priest of the diocese working alongside the Bishop. I guess from an American perspective this makes me look decidedly Episcopalian, however my ministry background and training was among the Baptists. Consequently, I have been serving as pastor/priest for nearly thirty years. My wife Jane also trained for ministry, and has spent the last decade spiritually directing and supervising church leaders from different denominations. We have three grown children.

10 responses to “Lying, Thieving, Socially Disinterested Blaggards”

  1. Andrea Lathrop says:

    Digby! I read your passion paragraph out loud to my husband and it gave us a good laugh. Thank you for that. It is interesting to think about the limits of passion. I hear it often in my world. Not the limits mind you but its importance. I guess it would be ideal that your passion would intersect with what you are actually good at; this would really simplify the situation. I think your perspective is critical for my generation and especially those behind me – competence, diligence, etc messages that outweigh the passion message would be the most loving thing to do for the young.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      Pleased to be of humorous service. Every human generation works out that competence tenacity and belief drive our survival. Faith and hope and love and kinship are the food, meaning and warmth of that journey.

  2. Jenn Burnett says:

    I really appreciate your reflection on calling and vocation and the variety of ways that answering a call might take form. I also appreciated you leaning in to the idea of going to where we are welcomed and valued. All of that is fruitful take away for me. Thank you.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      Yes, it changed my perspective on ministry and service. It lightened the load. Matt11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

  3. Digby, I appreciate your view of the importance of going to college because it counts and the fact that your denomination is keen on helping potential young people through college. It’s such an important of adding to the human capital in the society and it pays off.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      It transformed my life Wallace. I’ve seen it change so many others. It is sad that so Many in the world are denied the transformation of ones mind, worldview and ability to see anew.

  4. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Digby, your opinion of the word passion is like my response to “excited”…everyone young pastor is “excited!” I keep pressing them to tell me what is beyond the excitement.

    I appreciate the reminder to stay curious, it can be so easy to be cynical when we look around us.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      As I get older I am having to hold on to curiosity more than ever. By nature I am a critical thinker which always lends itself to a degree of cynicism. I think it was Parker Palmer who claimed that cynicism can be twinned with wisdom, but it’s nasty shadow is corrosive cynicism that seeks to destroy rather than investigate. Inasmuch as ‘Passion’ tips me over the corrosive edge, it only does so because I’ve witnessed too many young pastors engage in passion like some kind of methamphetamine. I like the quote from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (terrible movie) because it sort of applies:
      “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any fool can be. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

  5. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Digby, the way you have analyzed the book and I agree with the title of the book. I looked for the Hidden DNA as the title portrays, I did not see it. unless it’s hidden as he has put in the title. I was equally challenged with the slogan “follow your talent, not your passion.” I appreciate your insightful sharing.

  6. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Thank you for this passionate blog post Digby.

    As a pastor I love the way you discuss managing your career. Yes we have a call, and yes we need to be in dialogue with both God and our ecclesiastical bodies, however we do have a say, and when we know our true self, serving the church can be much more powerful and rewarding.

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