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

Moana the Leader

Written by: on March 1, 2019

Recently I’ve read a handful of books about habits. I love the word habits and rituals. And I need more habits… good habits to be precise. I also have 30 or so students I am to be investing in, and many of them are desperate for better habits. Of all the books I’ve read recently about this topic,

  • Atomic Habits
  • The Power of Habit
  • Eat That Frog
  • The Compound Effect

I’d say this one, Simple Habits for Complex Times by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston was by far the richest book with the best content. Although it also had the most unassuming cover and title. I was pleasantly surprised.


I think this type of thing is something I excel at. I think that one of my key strengths is the ability to see a cluster of data points, a cluster of visible truths that seem random, and explain the underlying system behind it.

Like the overwhelming amount of information, we take in as we simply look up at the night sky. The amount of information we take in as leaders can be overwhelming. But do you know how to find the right important key facts.

To be the one who can see the truth in plain sight, you need to know where to look.

Do you know where to look?

This should be a relief. You don’t need to create the answer, just find it. Reveal it. Learning where to look (asking the right questions) will orient you.

Moana, yes the Disney princess, was a wayfinder. She knew where to look, found the constellation, and charted the right path.

Can you ask the right questions and truly understand what the problem is, and what the question behind the question (QBQ) is?

If you ask these new questions you’ll find new information. Information previously overlooked, because you were only asking questions that led to the conclusion that your past has already taught you to be true.

This new information may seem totally sperate like a silo or an island floating by itself.

Can you ask the right questions to reveal what’s really happening underneath? Can you accept this new, possibly counter-intuitive, information enough to view it with the new perspective. While in reality its just the small visible piece of a massive mountain range underneath the surface.

Asking the right questions, gives you the right information. Viewing it through a new perspectiv, adjusts your mindset for the new world.

Now create the right system.

Don’t just think in the mindset of minimizing presents risks. Don’t only ask things like.[1]

  • Who is at fault for this?
  • What needs to be fixed?
  • What is the most important issue

These are easy and superficial. These are questions that are results focused and not system focused.

What was it about the current system, that lead you to the results and problems you are facing now.

Enter the mindset of creating a better future, a better system. Ask things like…

  • What are other ways of looking at this?
  • What if we thought about it in a new way?

Creating a better system is difficult because we live in more than just a complicated world. A complicated world is something like watch making. There is nothing simple about it. It’s very complicated. But the world is closed, and there are not many outside factors infringing on it. It happens in a sterile and predictable environment.

On the other hand, you have the business of say an air traffic controlling. Complicated, yes, but also immenently changing, again, and again. It’s elevated from just complicated and now is complex. Massive of information are flowing in

And a second later, the current status of all the plots will be different. Complex.

Complex worlds are difficult because the cause and effect relationship is unpredictable. And it doesn’t repeat.[2]

This means no more silver bullets. No more cookie cutter.

But at the risk of sounding cookie cutter, I want to end with simple a list of questions. A simple cheat sheet of the right questions for you to begin to implement in your leadership. Just asking these questions will not be your silver bullet, but it may began to help you find the right information and therefore view your problem from a new perspective.

Beginning to ask the right questions…

  1. What kind of stories are people telling now about this issue?
  2. What do people not talk about?
  3. If things were improving, what different stories would people tell?

Beginning to see new perspective…

  1. Which people are you not listening to and learning from well enough?
  2. What keeps you from doing this?
  3. What conversation should you be having?

Beginning to see the system…

  1. What are the forces that are keeping this issue stuck?
  2. Where are the bright spots: what might be the forces (or pockets) that are moving in a desired direction?
  3. What guesses do you have about what makes those bright spots more possible?
  4. How might you create similar conditions elsewhere or spread the bright spots?

May you look to ask the right questions, be committed to seeing from a new perspective and entering a new mindset. May you find the right complex systems for your predictable and unpredictable environments. May you enter your new ministry challenges with the heart of a way finder.

Image result for moana maui wayfinder


[1] Simple Habits for Complex Times. Page 17

[2] Simple Habits for Complex Times. Page 43.

About the Author

Kyle Chalko

11 responses to “Moana the Leader”

  1. M Webb says:

    Yes, I have noticed that about you, the ability to see data and situations and come up with links, ideas, and reasons. You would have made a good public safety detective.
    Are you doing any 1st Responder volunteer service, like a chaplain, or a crisis intervention pastor, or something like that? If not, you might consider it. You would be a natural to go into Critical Incidents, Mass Causality, etc to see the chaos and help both victims and first responders make sense of things, while all the while giving the Ministry of Presence. Many police, fire, and paramedic organizations want and need volunteer 1st Responder Pastors, Chaplains, Volunteers with the skills, education, and passion you have.
    Stand firm,
    Mike (from Chicago flying Internationally tonight)

  2. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Kyle!

    Glad you liked the book, and nice “way finder” with Moana.

    Loved your questions list. Well done, Kyle!


  3. Dan Kreiss says:


    Those questions and ones like them are what we need to keep asking. As soon as we stop we become intrenched in a place of comfort and fail to continue to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit. Teach your students to commit these types of questions to memory and use them to reflect on their lives regularly, even as an awareness examen. This will continue to draw them to new insights and encourage them to remain open to the Spirit’s leading.

    BTW – Moana is one of my favorite Disney animated films. Reminds me of NZ.

  4. Super creative post, Kyle!

    I found it interesting that you not only applied this text to your organizational work, but you’re your leadership. As we read through each assigned reading, I’m constantly placing myself and my ministry under scrutiny. At times, I realize my weaknesses and at other times, I realize my strengths. It’s been helpful to not only implement new strategies but also continue in activities that are working well.

    Berger and Johnston delve into the idea of questions, perspective, and systems. What do you find it the most difficult to implement? Why? Much like last week’s text, Noll suggested that many evangelicals see intellect as the antithesis of faith. Do you find that Christian leaders fall to ask different questions because they see it as expressing doubt or questioning God’s will?

  5. Jason Turbeville says:

    Great focus on the way finder aspect of Moana and how it can dovetail in with the reading. I appreciate the questions set out in the end. Great job.


  6. Trisha Welstad says:

    Kyle, I am curious about your implementation of habits. I have read several different habit books too (Including Eat that Frog, which was one of the easiest ones to implement for me). Do you keep implementing new habits or evolve the ones you have? Also, with regard to your set of questions at the end, are these questions you use often? How have you seen them be effective?

  7. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Kyle! Nice, creative blog! I know you love to read and analyze – the questions you pose are crucial (you know I love to question too). How do you role model these same habits of leadership to your interns? I’m always happy to read your passion for your intern program – it’s essential to be effective 🙂

  8. Hey Kyle,

    I’ve also observed you are a strategic thinker and implementer… and you have the capacity to see systems and construct alternatives. It’s such a gift in your ministry.

    I just read Heifitz’ book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership for my research this semester. Ok, I’m sure everything is now filtered through his grid now, but I saw your post in line with the same sort of thinking. Seeing the bigger picture, asking questions, reframing, etc.

  9. Greg says:

    Love the visual of a watch….they idea that even with a face cover what is going on behind is complex even when it is viewed a simple and mundane.

    Thanks Kyle for the reminder that even though I am a question asker, I will admit that I sometime have my own agenda within my questions.

  10. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks, Kyle–
    First, I appreciate your appropriation of Moana for our Dmin purposes :). My daughter looked over my shoulder and was interested! Second, I feel like this is a message that you could use in some other setting, either with students or a congregation. Third, the point about habits (specifically “good habits”) seems to be popping up all over the place in leadership/self-development literature, and especially as part of our studies. Lent is almost here: is there a habit that you will take on intentionally for the season? Or something that you will give up?

  11. Chris Pritchett says:

    Hey Kyle thanks for this engaging post! I loved the pictures and the reference to Moana as a wayfarer was awesome. I wonder which of the three habits from the book you have found most helpful in your leadership journey.

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