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

Not for the Faint of Heart

Written by: on November 3, 2021

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Introducing Leadersmithing, Dr. Liz Mellon states, “Leaders bear great responsibility. They are responsible for creating wealth that sustains prosperity and thus life. They wield huge power and can make the lives of their followers a joy or a misery. We always need more and better leaders.”[1] Despite the significant challenges, there is an increasing need for more good leaders. For this purpose, Eve Poole authored Leadersmithing to equip and mobilize various men and women, from the weary leader to the executive coach, for greater effectiveness. As a two-part book, Poole provides the theory behind leadersmithing in Part 1, whereas Part 2 is about the practice of said theory.

Poole coins the term leadersmithing, which has less to do with the act of leadership and more to do with the craft of leadership forged from the fires of apprenticeship. If leaders are to succeed in effectively leading others, Poole argues that these leaders will need to master what she calls Critical Incidents, of which there are seventeen. The apprenticeship model is humbling, difficult, challenging, grueling, and takes years to develop. Remember, leadership is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, not every apprentice makes it through the process to the end. Yet, for those who do endure, Richard Sennett is quoted to say, “In a workshop, the skills of the master can earn him or her the right to command and learning from and absorbing those skills can dignify the apprentice or journeyman’s obedience … The successful workshop will establish legitimate authority in the flesh, not in rights or duties set down on paper.”[2] In time, leaders are molded, and the process of leadership development continues.

In considering the apprenticeship model as leadership development, I was challenged to evaluate my effectiveness in developing other leaders. Going back to 2005, as a new (and young) Executive Director, I was tasked with starting an internship program. We had several former summer college staff who, upon graduating college, desired to return and intern with our organization. With a few key concepts in mind, what began as an experimental year matured and developed into a robust leadership program, eventually paving the way for these interns to become full-time staff, leaders of other organizations, and missionaries serving in the 10/40 Window. Fast forward to 2009, having moved to a low-income community of Billings, Montana, to plant a church, I started an internship program for the organization I now lead, CLDI. The aspiration was to recruit and mobilize young college-age followers of Jesus to stimulate our wholistic revitalization efforts in our vulnerable community. We are currently hosting our 12th class of year-long interns in Billings. When asked what the most successful pathway has been to fulfill our missional goal of individual and community transformation, hands down, it has been the internship program.

Considering my NPO and the continued growth and development of the organization I lead, Leadersmithing has caused me to pause and further consider: What are the ways we can interject more “apprenticeship-type” models into our work. Is there a way to expand this model to our Rail//Line Coffee apprentices? Are there ways to link arms with partner churches to partake in more vigorous leadership development? And what about the many youth and families we serve? Are there ways to implement an apprenticeship mindset as we invest in our community to promote the flourishing of all?

While many great principles were gleaned from this book, I am looking forward to circling back and more deeply considering how we may enhance our apprenticeship model.

[1] Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017), xiii.

[2] Ibid., 66.

About the Author


Eric Basye

Disciple, husband, and father, committed to seeking shalom.

9 responses to “Not for the Faint of Heart”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    Internships are amazing when the organization treats them as more than just copy makers and coffee runners.

    What were the helpful internship practices that you experienced?

    With the sensitive nature of your work, helping people live in affordable housing and often coming out of difficult situations, how do you equip the interns to navigate these challenges?

    What have been the helpful hands-on learning experiences and responsibilities you provide your interns?

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Eric, I really like the questions you took away from this book. Like you, it also caused to think about how we bring younger leaders along in our church. We have three very bright and gifted leaders under twenty-five on our staff right now. I believe Dr. Poole offers a lot of practical help about how to be intentional in their development. I believe this is a book that will influence our thinking around that. If you gain helpful insights as you circle back to this book and implement the ideas, I’d love to hear about what worked.

    • mm Eric Basye says:

      I will say that our ‘internship program’ has hands down been the best, most effective method of leadership development. These interns that move on to join our full-time staff seem truly understand the depth of our mission MORE than those who have come to us from outside the internship. So, maybe it is taking them through a co-hort of sorts that will help cast vision and similar language, also allowing them to take in the culture and mission of what you are up to.

  3. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Eric: What a fascinating internship to be part of as both a leader and a participant. Even with the further questions you posed, it looks like you’re on the right track to embed more meaningful work into the program that assists in their spiritual, professional, and personal development. You might be interested in an organization I’ve been involved in for several years, Trellis (wearetrellis.com), which links together churches, the city, businesses and more to address specific challenges in strategic ways. It has been really empowering in my role at the university to mobilize students towards work that gives them a vision of a united church and strategic goals that demonstrate tangible results.

  4. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Eric, Your mention of Dr Liz Mellon’s quote reminded me of my note I made from the introduction when Poole talks about part of the apprenticeship is making something in miniature, because “By making something perfectly in miniature, he demonstrated that he was ready to be trusted with the big stuff” (pg.3)…..It’s a great connection to scripture…Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..Luke 16:10. I had never thought about leadership being one of those things to be trusted with. It is exciting to hear how you have really been a faithful servant who has been entrusted with empowering others with this thing we call leadership.
    If asked Why is leadership such an important piece of life? What would you say?

  5. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Eric: The idea of apprenticeship stuck out to me too. I think the art of mentor-mentee has decreased in our age. I have had a few bosses in my life where I really felt like I learned from them. I feel very lucky to have learned from them and I am thankful that they invested their time and energy into me. Having a good boss is just as important as having a good job. This book developed this idea well and now that I am of the age where I am the mentor, the book reminded me the importance of an apprenticeship-style teaching model.

  6. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Eric, you are so right that good, healthy leadership is not for the faint at heart. It needs to be approach with a sense of awe and respect. Your quote by Mellon reminds me of one I have held close to my heart as an educator:
    “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a student’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a student humanized or de-humanized.” ~ Haim Ginott. I have tried to implement this awareness when I have been in a leadership role of any kind.
    Nice word phrase: leadership forging. Great description.
    I see you generated nearly as many questions as did to come back to. I’m curious about what specific “Incidences” that you have your current interns engage in?

  7. Elmarie Parker says:

    Eric, thank you for your thoughtful post and for sharing the questions that Poole’s book raised for you as you consider the internship journey of your organization. Your questions are thought provoking and help me consider some of these issues for the development of my NPO. Thank you.

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