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

Riding the Rails to Future Hope

Written by: on January 18, 2024

Tom Camacho’s Mining for Gold took me on a journey.  I rode the twin rails of “Julie as a Leader” and “Julie as Human.” These rails were connected by the crossties (sleepers for our friends in the UK) of insights, a-has, and when-will-I-learns from the book.  The trip included stops at Unpleasant Memories, Joyful Discoveries, Growing Edge, and Future Hope.

I would like to get the telling of Unpleasant Memories out of the way. Since the avoidance of pain is a way of being selfish with gifts and a mark of immaturity, I feel rather proud of this choice. >insert hand-slapping-head emoji for being prideful< Unpleasant Memories contains view after view of Julie telling people what to do. Telling is a helpful trait during a medical emergency in the bush of Malawi, but it hurts people when carelessly used as a means of getting results on a project. It is also embarrassing to see myself telling younger leaders all the wisdom I’ve gleaned, especially when the telling included some form of attempting to make myself look good via AI. Artificial Importance.  Resentment Café is a place I used to hang out a lot in Unpleasant Memories. It seemed comfortable to rest at my favorite table and review grievances of myself doing all the work and wondering why I didn’t get more notice for it.  No matter how much I sipped on resentment, I never felt satisfied.

The first stop in Joyful Discovery was a visit to E412.  Upon having discovered Ephesians 4:12 as our pastoral mandate, a colleague and I built E412 in 2014 as a way of demonstrating the activity of the Body of Christ in the local church. It was really just a PowerPoint talk, but it did help some key leaders see ministry with a new lens. The most important insight was the necessity to replace oneself and always give ministry away in order to develop more leaders and thus have a stronger church with potential for Kingdom growth.

One more important location in Joyful Discovery was right next door to E412. It was a conference talk by Dave Ferguson based on his book called Hero Maker. The talk was about multiplication through the development of others. I was energized when I began thinking that the fruit of my ministry was hanging on other people’s trees.  Now I had a ministry foundation in scripture and picture of where I wanted to go, but I still needed some tools.

Joyful Discovery also contains well-utilized self-awareness assessments, particularly DISC.  I had passed by DISC many times thinking I had that all figured out and did not need to visit, but I was lovingly coerced by another leader who could see my blind spot. Turns out, we are both wired as “D.” Spending a lot of time at DISC helped me discover how the behavioral tendency of telling can hurt people, especially the majority of Steady and Conscientiously wired peers in ministry. First, I had to accept myself, then I could learn to operate better from the strengths rather than the shadow side of myself.

Beginning to believe that my natural urge to direct others by telling them what to do is counterproductive to real leadership development was the entry to Growing Edge.  While in Growing Edge recently I made a stop at Practice Asking. I had opened my mouth to tell my opinion (judgmental, of course) but I heard the prompting of the Holy Spirit and asked an open-ended question. The results were phenomenal and I have since been trying to visit Practice Asking every chance I get.  These visits have given me a hunger to relocate permanently.

Practice Asking is still at Growing Edge but I have plans to move to Future Hope permanently. That’s where Asking-After-Lovingly-Listening is located and it is my dream to build a home there. In order to move permanently, “Julie as Human” will need to keep growing into her identity in Christ. It is in my identity that I still feel like a fitful adolescent battling fear of failure and worry about what people think. I was never an actual orphan but I wasn’t exactly parented either. Reading Camacho’s depiction of living with an ‘orphan mentality’ delivered an instant flash of insight into the source of my struggles and strengths as a human and as a leader. Now I have a collective name for the places I am growing from as I lean deeper into my identity in Christ.  It is so liberating.  This former orphan who never felt heard and seen longs to offer these gifts to others. Leading as a coach who asks good questions will equip me to do so. For today, I will go back again and again to Practice Asking at Growing Edge.

About the Author

Julie O'Hara

8 responses to “Riding the Rails to Future Hope”

  1. Debbie Owen says:

    Brilliant Julie. I loved reading this. Thank you for your creativity. I wonder how you (and I) can remember to keep returning to Practice Asking?

    The Asking-After-Lovingly-Listening is – I’m sure – the best way. Funny, I wrote my post about listening. You’ve given a great explanation for why it’s so important. 🙂

  2. Jeff Styer says:

    Julie, I love your allegorical writing like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I wonder what I would call the locations I have visited or dwelt in on my journey. Thanks for the honest reflection. I am not familiar with the self-assessment DISC that you mentioned. Is that something you did through school, church or just on your own? What specific area does this tend to assess and address?

    • Julie O'Hara says:

      It looks at one’s behavioral tendencies in areas such as communication style, work style and reactions to pressure situations. An area particularly helpful to me were the descriptions of types of situations which increase or decrease motivation. I discovered that administration has been such a drag on my professional life. I am responsible and a systems thinker, but the actually doing of repetitive admin type tasks is so draining for me. I thought if I was good at something I should like it. Now I know that is not necessarily true. The simple view of DISC is via two contiuums: Ask vs Tell, and People vs Task. Having ‘D’ as my primary style means I tend more towards telling and tasks. At the opposite quadrant is ‘S’ which tends toward asking and people.

  3. Chad Warren says:

    Julie, I agree with Jeff and Debbie that the creativity you wrote was very inviting and caused self-reflection. Thank you for passing along the image of our ministry fruit growing on other people’s trees. Considering this avenue of leading through coaching, do you have an immediate opportunity to begin? If so, what does that look like?

    • Julie O'Hara says:

      Hi Chad,
      I need to give credit for the fruit on trees metaphor as developing out of Hero Maker by Ferguson. I can see that was unclear. I formally and informally mentor a number of ministerial development candidates and pastors in my denomination and that is my main avenue right now. Recently it looked like resisting the urge to reassure a panicking interviewee who was texting her fears and insecurity and concern over feeling “like a terrible representative for Jesus.” Instead, I asked her, “What does a good representative for Jesus look like?” And she got unstuck and slayed her interview. Thank you, Jesus!

  4. Akwése Nkemontoh says:

    Ha, omgsh I LOVED reading this — you had me smiling and eager for each next line! Your playfulness and creativity in writng are 🔥

    When you said “I heard the prompting of the Holy Spirit and asked an open-ended question” and how it’s given you “a hunger to relocate permanently” I thought, this is it! This is the work indeed and I am so here with you for it ❤️

  5. mm Kari says:

    This was a fun style of writing, Julie. What do you feel is your next action step toward striving to reach Asking-After-Lovingly-Listening?

  6. Elysse Burns says:

    Julie, I echo the comments that preceded mine. This was such a fun and creative way to approach the blog post.

    I used to be a regular at Resentment Café. They knew my order, but I had to stop going there because it was bad for my health. Perhaps, one day we will be neighbors at Future Hope. I am looking to move there too.

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