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

Preparing for the Leadership Journey

Written by: on March 13, 2014


It would be of little surprise to know, to those who are familiar with our family, that when it comes to preparing for a family vacation, my wife takes care of most of the details. She’s actually quite amazing at it. From food to clothing that we’ll need to take, to making sure our little dog and two dwarf bunnies are properly cared for in our absence, she does it all. My job is to prepare the car for the trip. Make sure it has been to the garage for any necessary repairs, and give it a vacuum and clean up (or pay someone to do it). Then I need to take those items out of the car that we will not need on our trip, so that we can pack the items needed into the car for our trip. A failure to do this properly would result in two things. The first would be not being able fit in something needed for our vacation. The second, taking unnecessary items with us which we won’t use on our trip.  Preparation is important and it involves unpacking and leaving behind some items in order to refresh the same space with items that will be of benefit for the anticipated journey ahead.

In Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence, MaryKate Morse outlines the under-appreciated manner in which our physical bodies impact our leadership.  Her real life examples and personal experiences make a compelling case for the attention that needs to be paid to personal conduct more than organizational outcomes or positional aspirations.  The inclusion of possible applications makes this a valuable resource for leaders across a diversity of fields. Yet through it all, the emphasis on preparation stands out as the most relevant for leadership in our current, rapidly changing, globally influenced cultures.  The time taken to prepare (unpacking the unnecessary and getting equipped with the essential tools) for the leadership task greatly influences our leadership impact:

“A quiet and reflective space is necessary to minimize distractions and allow the inner emotional psyche and spirit to surface. The Holy Spirit moves in us at those deeper levels. When we fill up inner space with our own words and thoughts, we are trying to stay in control. When we allow ourselves to be still and wait, we relinquish control to God. Open space with God is not simply leisure or selfishness; it is our spiritual food and drink.” (Loc. 1580-1583)

If preparation with The Holy Spirit of God is as significant as providing spiritual food and drink, then it is likely that we, as North American leaders, are among the most deprived in the world. Our agendas fill up faster than we can flip to the next week. We feel guilty about the spaces in our calendar and the time off we take. Christian leaders are among the worst in our communities of faith in taking a Sabbath Rest. We’ve convinced ourselves that greater technology means that we can attempt to accomplish more things in less time. For all of this we have more stress related illnesses, more time missed in our work places, more transitions between workplaces and roles. As it relates to churches, there are more hurting congregations and more dispirited clergy. It doesn’t have to be this way:

The Lord is my Shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

When I consider biblical leaders of great repute (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, David, Nehemiah, Ruth, Peter, Paul), it must be no coincidence that they all experienced significant time of preparation where they learned to listen for, trust and follow the voice of Our God as He led them, even into dark valleys of testing and trial. That preparation for all them involved some unpacking, some leaving behind and then some packing in and renewing of essential tools.

Why would they follow Him to places where they would never venture on their own? Why would they show resolve against fears and difficulties that they would otherwise cower and shrink back? How could they be used to gain the confidence of others? I think Morse answers that well when she says: “When you step into sacred space with Christ, then no matter where you are, what is going on or who you are with, the mission of God’s kingdom is at the forefront. “(Loc. 1772-1774) Too many Christian leaders view their roles as jobs rather than places to which God has led them. In forgetting that The Shepherd is the one who leads they are tempted to layout the boundaries of sacred and secular space.  What would happen if we viewed every area of our lives as sacred space, as though the unfolding of the Kingdom could happen around whether we were within our “office hours” or not?

Jesus modelled this for us with His intentional interactions alone with God, Our Father. In prayer, and with reliance upon the Word, Jesus intensely fought against the emotions and thoughts that could derail his mission (unpacking) and was continually renewed and affirmed in His commitment and conduct in fulfilling His purpose (packing anew). As a result Jesus modelled for us the way in which we use or don’t use our words, the importance of a timely touch, open arms, and intentional rest, and true sacrificial compassionate love. Jesus did all this while being intentional about creating space for others to be welcomed, heard and valued.

Like Jesus, in His earthly life, we’re all on a journey. One that He says can be even greater than His own. The question left for us is: are we willing to be still enough with in order to discern what we need to leave behind, in order that we may be equipped to become the leaders who lead (while following Our Shepherd) for the glory of God?

About the Author

Deve Persad

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