DLGP

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

Not as Successful as I Think I Am, But I Cannot be as Unsuccessful as I Fear

Written by: on October 14, 2021

Do you want to lead? Then place a mirror ahead of you and behind you to get a complete perspective of who you indeed are.

“Leadership is the activity—any activity—that leads other people more deeply into this full humanity: which enables them to take hold of, and take responsibility for, the life that they, as a unique, particular person within the created human race, have been given life to live,” explained Walker.[1] “Leading out of Who You Are” challenges readers to introspectively examine themselves as a natural outpouring of how they lead.

How often do we hide, emulating some other successful leader, putting out a false persona, because we are worried that people will not respect us, view us favorably, or follow us? How often do we fail to be effective leaders because we live out of an erroneous bag of tricks that do not match our personality, skills, strengths, and God-given giftedness?

Walker pushes readers to consider just how important trust is between leaders and the people entrusted to their care. But can a leader truly build trust among their parishioners (community, employees, constituents, etc.) if they do not first trust themselves? Trusting ourselves comes from accurately and continually better understanding who you are as an individual, one’s personhood or identity.

As Walker laid out four different types of leaders—Shaper, Definer, Adapter, or Defender—I reflected on the tension between the kind of leader I want to be and the actual type of leader I am. If I am honest with myself, I have seen all four expressions in my nearly 25 years of vocational ministry.

However, I resonate most with the Definer. Walker has me so pegged that I kept looking over my shoulder while reading the book to see where the camera crew was for the academic research into my personality and leadership type.

I have spent the last 15 years as the manufacturer of new ideas, ministries, programs, and churches. I quadrupled a youth ministry, started a church from scratch, helped hundreds of people discern their callings, invested in developing over 25 new churches across the country, and was handpicked to reboot a floundering traditional church. What this experience often translates into is that I think I know a lot of things. It’s not arrogance as much as confidence. I believe in the work I am doing and want it to be successful.

But as Walker aptly points out, I am not as successful as I think I am, but I cannot be as unsuccessful as I fear. I live every day with the highest expectations of myself, to get tasks done, with timely execution and in large amounts.

My wife’s favorite question to ask me at the end of the day is how is your day, in which I always respond with what I didn’t get done. She will then ask me to name what I did get done and remind me that it is quite a lot.

After introducing a third major initiative in 18 months to UBC, the church I currently serve, I had a church leader respond, “Andy, this stuff is wonderful and amazing. But at the end of the day, we are just glad you are here. We are totally fine with you just being our pastor.”

So, from Walker, I am trying to learn that failure is okay and that my abundance of energy and drive can be translated into a more generous approach to the people I lead. As the author argued, “Those who grow up in a culture of generosity develop with a greater freedom. Their childhood experience is of resources abundant enough to supply their needs without leaving a deficit. There is enough love for them to be able to take it without feeling they have to pay for it in some way.”[2]

[1] Walker, Simon. Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership. (Carlisle: Piquant, 2007), pg 154.

[2] Ibid, 154.

About the Author

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Andy Hale

CBF Podcast Creator and Host, Senior Pastor of University Baptist Church (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), & Professional Coach

8 responses to “Not as Successful as I Think I Am, But I Cannot be as Unsuccessful as I Fear”

  1. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Great title and thoughtful essay Andy. Walker does indeed push his reader to introspection. I remember hoping my senior year of college that when I graduate all of the introspection tasks will be complete. It never stops and neither does the journey of life when we walk with God. To be a better leader we have to keep pushing and learning, and growing. Walker captured this truth well.

  2. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Andy – I completely relate to your capacities and the ways in which you function. Big on strategy, creativity, and execution with excellence are strengths but if I don’t keep them in check can easily become where I find my identity. I appreciate how your wife is able to help redefine your days with you. What a gift to have her and leaders co-laboring with you that have articulated the gratitude they have for you, just for being you.

  3. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Andy, I appreciate your questions that relate to the temptation to hide by adopting the leadership styles of others. Like many parts of our culture, the Christian community has presented imitation of the “successful” as faux growth. I can also relate your wife’s input as a positive balance for you. I’m not sure I’d be in ministry today if it was not for her.

  4. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Andy, Your title got me thinking from the very beginning. Like Roy, I too was challenged by your questions to look more closely in my own mirror. As well as to remember that my value and progress is not so much in what I have accomplished but in my showing up fearlessly.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    I love this relfection, Andy, especially your insight and vulnerability. I can identify with much of what you have said, both my own personal reflections as well being mindful of those I lead. There have been seasons in my current role where I have had to intentionally “stop” and put the dreamer part of me on hold as my people were burned out. That was incredibly hard as a leader, and truth be told, I could not have operated in that mindset much longer than I did (~ a year). This has led me to the conclusion with my Board that a day will come when what I provide from a leadership side is not what is needed for CLDI, and when that day comes, we need to call it for what it is.

  6. Elmarie Parker says:

    Andy, thank you for your thoughtful and vulnerable engagement with Walker’s book. I love the title you picked out from his ego shape section!

    Your closing statement in particular caught my attention: “So, from Walker, I am trying to learn that failure is okay and that my abundance of energy and drive can be translated into a more generous approach to the people I lead.” Your energy is truly a gift, though as someone who also operates from energy overdrive :), I know from those closest to me, that sometimes it is wearing. So, I’m curious to learn more from your journey as you seek to translate that gift into a more generous approach to the people you lead. Would you be willing to unpack that statement a bit more? The quote from Walker that you have right after your comment is potent. What is the connection (and path forward) you see between this quote and your desire to develop a more generous approach to the people you lead and to your abundance of energy?

    • mm Andy Hale says:

      Elmarie, thank you for your affirmation and insight.

      The quote at the end really spoke to me about the generous upbringing and vocational journey I have experienced. I am the beneficiary of such wonderfully gracious people.

      Walker drove home to me to consider how I might pivot some of my drives away from the next project and onto the people under my care.

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