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


Written by: on April 11, 2021

The leader carries a lot of responsibility. Most of the time, more than enough for just one person. Simon Walker refers to different kinds of leadership, based on personality, and their various approaches to public involvement and behind-the-scenes integrity. He writes that the ‘good leader is in command of the overall theatre of his organization, community or society, and for this to function well he must be able to perform effectively on both the front stage and the back.’1 Quality leadership he refers to as ‘theatre’, a performance of sorts that demonstrates ‘arete’ (to use a Greek term of sophistry) both under the spotlight, before the ears of the mass politic and in centered quietness with maps, glaring grit and key players.

The capacity of leaders to endure increasing responsibility, tension and stress with poise and equanimity varies. A coping strategy can be to release control, to share responsibility and to coordinate (as a leader could do) a shared approach to leading. This is a weak force, as Walker would deem it. Perhaps a ‘negative capability’2, on the road of the undefended. In the second part of his trilogy, ‘Leading with Nothing to Lose, Walker differentiates between the approach or impact of leaders by strong and weak force. He states that ‘our society has come to associate force, like power, with being strong and dominant, and to associate weakness with being submissive and having no influence.’3 Oh, and how the ‘strong and dominant’ love this dualistic processing. Why? Because ‘strong force’ generates confrontation and competition’ and ‘creates winners and losers.’4

Emotion can give vibrations of both strength and weakness. The unrelenting passion of a strong leader can excite people to action, even to exhaustion and burnout. The example of strength weakening.

We are sensitive to the way we are approached. I understand that leadership can be a dance and that finding various rhythms within corporate movements is vital for grace, the natural being, expression and wholesome progress of the group. Awkward and upsetting on a system, community and organization is the way of forcing power, the application of strength unwarranted that is, in general, beyond the character of human beings. This is power pushed to reinforce ‘place’, one’s position and ego-prize. In her book, ‘Quiet’, Susan Cain encourages the individual inclined toward introversion to not succumb to the pressure to be the loudest person in the room, in order to establish themselves. In a competitive reward-driven world dominated by loudness and the extraverted presence, where quietness, a weak power, can be perceived as a weakness, she encourages the flow of true nature and ‘to not be swept up by prevailing norms.’5

The negative capability, quietness, can be beneficial practice of emotional intelligence. If quietness were the canvas on which we met, the office in which we dialogued, what could be the outcome? This is different, I know. There’s a balance, I think, that Walker is alluding to in his book, between the assertion of strong power and weak power in leadership.

The story is one: that we are in individually, that we are drawn into corporately and globally and that we are invited into with God. The deeper our commitment to the story and its movement with us and beckoning for us ‘to come’, it is in my opinion, the quieter and stronger we become. We are called into the darkness where grace is sufficient and the weak are made strong.6

I went for a walk on a logging road the other day with a friend. It was a quiet place, only our feet crunching on the gravel beneath us made a sound. The gravel came from the blown up, side of a hill we had just walked by on our left. Beyond the crunch, nothingness, no sound for no nature, as we walked in the midst of a clear-cut area that once was original, first growth forest. Up ahead, the buzzing voice of a chainsaw (a symbol of ‘strong power’ in this environment) could be heard. As we crossed the line from clear-cut to Old Growth, the annoying sound grew louder; this uninvited, obnoxious sound that has devastated the natural quietness of the area and propagated a devaluing of its original integrity.

Eden Grove is one of the last remaining spans of Old Growth forest remaining on southern Vancouver Island. A trail was being formed, with this loud annoying instrument, for good. From naturally fallen Western Cedar, a trail was being formed by a group of activists, to open a door for people to come into the experience of a First-Growth, temperate rainforest. We walked in. The air was different, the environment everywhere full-of-life. The smell, the soil, no death. Even in naturally broken trees, fallen to the floor, life interlacing entirely.

There was another trail that I saw lined through the forest just to the side of the one that was being made for people to visit, to learn from the honest life and quietness of creation, to experience the presence and sacred voicelessness of these forests that barely remain standing. This trail that I saw was one of orange tape, denoting a ‘falling’ line for loggers of a company who had received permission to take it, to annihilate it, destroy what was on the other side of that line. So, there it is, trails of life and trails of death. There is a story of  exploitation and oppression that groans from these stumps that is not far from the scream of oppression that I have felt for feeling cut off at times, and of those who I walk closely with day-by-day near to the streets of the city. Exploitation and corruption banks on the gentle, sensitive individuals (those who feel the pain, long for justice and together have the power to stop the oppression) remaining silent.



  1. Walker, Simon P. Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Exercise of Power (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 2) . Piquant Editions. Kindle Edition, chapter 1.
  2. Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing: the Art of Effortless Action,
  3. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Chapter 3.
  4. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Chapter 3.
  5. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Chapter 3.
  6. Susan Cain, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,
  7. 1 Corinthians 12:9-11, NIV.

About the Author

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

8 responses to “shinrin-yoku”

  1. Darcy Hansen says:

    Thank you for this reflection. As I read your last paragraph, I was struck at how it communicates, in a succinct way, the content of Holland’s Dominion- how Christianity has trod on both sides of the orange tape, either creating space for life, or tearing down life via power and position. The devastation is vast, but life still remains…maybe even amongst the devastation new growth can happen…”A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isa 11:1).

    You ask, “If quietness were the canvas on which we met, the office in which we dialogued, what could be the outcome?” How have you seen this play out in your ministry context? Or is this a cultural shift you hope to integrate into your spaces?

  2. Shawn Cramer says:

    I dig what you’re saying about quietness. I think it also leans on the idea that people have more to offer or say than we often give them credit. Often, all people need is another moment of silence before they offer more of themselves and their perspectives and ideas.

  3. Greg Reich says:

    I love your reflection on quietness. I believe that deep connection and communication can take place through quietness. I am reminded of the times my dad and I would go hunting. We seldom spoke a word for hours at a time. We enjoyed the silence, nothing more needed to be said. Sometimes a glance was all that was needed to convey a message. Something similar happens when we sit quietly with those who are suffering. Our presence and silence often says more than our words.

  4. Dylan Branson says:

    I remember when I was growing up, I never thought I would be in any leadership role because I was deemed “too quiet.” I never had the loud and commanding presence that many glorified leaders have. When I was asked to lead for the first time, this was one of my biggest fears. So I tried to lean into emulating other leaders I had before who were more commanding, but it fell flat. It was only when I began to lead out of who I am that things began to change. At the end of the summer, my team said to me, “Thank you for not being the loud one. We see the other teams we would’ve hated that.”

    Thanks for your reflections, Chris.

  5. Jer Swigart says:

    Slowly, I’m coming to terms with vulnerability (weakness) as a form of authentic power as it unleashes the humanity of the leader as well as that of those who follow. That said, I don’t know that I ever want to “use” vulnerability as a means to influence. Instead, I want to become more vulnerable as a way of life.

    • Chris Pollock says:

      Leadership aside and within, becoming vulnerable could be an aspect of a healing process, for the leader, system(s) of leadership, community…

      Healing, wholeness of individuals and systems (big imagination to this), the inspiration (driving force).

      • Jer Swigart says:

        I agree. My sense is that leaders have been so groomed to project strength that we have lost a part of our own humanity. This is why therapy and spiritual direction are so critical to my formation as a leader. I want my leadership to be connected to my humanity…as well as that of others.

  6. John McLarty says:

    This is a powerful word, Chris. So often, people mistake quietness for detached, unknowledgeable, uninterested, or weakness. What are some ways you invite people into the space of silence?

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