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

The issue with power

Written by: on March 11, 2020

The issue of power and leadership has always attracted my attention since 27 years in ministry; in fact, I have been in many leadership positions and seen firsthand how power unfolds through manipulation, the privilege, the rich, in the secular and religious environment.

One of the most attractive concepts in the field of social sciences is the concept of “power” and “leadership.” When I started my doctoral studies at Fuller, the focus was on leadership and I remember spending time talking about those issues. I think it is a very complicated issue, full of many negative and positive ramifications.

Leadership is a challenge at any time, but in times of globalization, the turbulence of the changes generated by the new economy multiplied the questions and options of today’s organizations.

The leader performs in the concept of organizations, that is where he or she is formed, among the group of people who voluntarily decide to coordinate over time, to try to achieve some objectives.

Always ask the question, what does it mean to be a leader? What is the nature of leadership? What does it mean to have the ability to influence other people’s behavior and a persuasive way?

Max Weber differed power precisely as the “ability to influence the behavior of other people” Effective leadership, then, is, above all, power. Power dimensions are very curious, such as submitting a person to the tip of a gun’s barrel. In the same way, arises the power of the pastor or religious leader who submits to the parishioners to the tip of the word of God. Or that of a politician through his position or the rich with his money.

Chris Duker, the editor of Redcliffe, says that “Typical leaders are ‘defended’ in the sense that they try to preserve their power and influence, especially by controlling what they allow others to see of themselves. Their defensiveness is entrenched through the idealization of followers, their own idealistic vision; and their unmet emotional needs. For Walker, deeper, ‘truer’ leadership must be ‘undefended’ by not grasping for power or seeking colleagues’ approval. Instead, freedom to lead comes from “our attachment to another” (p.103), who offers “unconditional regard” (p.105).

“Walker contends that, rather than situations or even behavior, leadership is fundamentally “about who you are, not what you know or what skills you have” (p.5).

I am more worried about how to lead myself. What does it mean to be the leader of yourself? In addition to giving yourself the push and initiative necessary to carry out your goals and projects, being the leader of yourself also means developing the keys needed to face the situations that life poses.

He goes on to say, “This is a minority view, as more commentators nowadays consider important the interplay between a leader, their context and their behavior (contingency models). At this point Walker displays something of a universalizing tendency: virtually all leaders are ‘defended’ and employ strategies to protect themselves (selective presentation, power, control); all are ‘defended’ because of their ego. It does not seem problematic for Walker that each of the four ego typologies he identifies results in the same condition of defensiveness.

What are the fears of the leader?

We know that psychologist and professor of Organization and Human Resources at universities mentions that the number one fear for the leader is the fear of losing your position and it makes a very interesting classification of the different ways in which that fear manifests itself, namely:

1- Fear of showing feelings that make them appear weaker and to be perceived as soft or characterless managers.

2- Fear of losing authority or having your leadership questioned.

3- Fear that subordinates make fun of their weaknesses, or that these weaknesses become apparent.

4- Fear of transmitting information and losing the advantage of knowledge.

In conclusion

How to I can be an Irreprehensible / untouchable leader?

An irreprehensible person is one who lives in such a way that it is not necessary to be corrected or admonished because he does things that are considered disapproved by those around him. The irreprehensible is the one who goes forward marking the example of how to live in a straight and honest way regardless of the social pressure that this represents, is someone who everywhere maintains proper behavior, is that man husband of a single woman, faithful and that by choosing to please God and putting his name up he has managed to be a determining influence in the formation and faith of his children.

How can I be a Humble leader?

The arrogant is one who has a constant desire to be preferred over others. He wants to be distinguished, recognized, and always praised above others, he is the one who tries to be a leader only to exercise authority and control over others, imposes his will, but nobody follows him by conviction. The humble is the one who knows that all that he or she is and what he or she has is because God in his grace granted it for which he or she gives in gratitude to the task of forming and teaching the hearts of others to make the necessary adjustments in his or her life to live according to the will of God.


Walker, Simon P. The Undefended Leader Trilogy. Self-published, 2011.

Weber, M. “The theory of Economic and Social Organization”, Free Press, New York, 1947.

https://www.redcliffe.ac.uk/research/encounters-mission-journal/encounters-mission-journal-issue-39-book-review-3 access 3/9/2020

https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/how-leaders-can-break-the-cycle-of-organizational-anxiety access3/9/2020




About the Author

Joe Castillo

15 responses to “The issue with power”

  1. Darcy Hansen says:

    Power is a seducer of the heart. Many pastors lead churches that are structured in a hierarchal manner, where basically the buck stops with the senior pastor. Yes, there are elder boards and such, but even those can be swayed by the senior pastor’s leadership. As a pastor, what systems or accountability structures do you have in place so that you can be considered a humble, beyond reproach leader?

    • Joe says:

      Darcy I am not sure about pastor beyond reproach! As a pastor, what systems or accountability structures do you have in place so that you can be considered a humble, beyond reproach leader?
      I like to think that as I lead myself self I build a greater sense of selfawere and we do that by inviting others to speak into your life and hold you accountable.

      • Darcy Hansen says:

        I only used that language because it seemed to be what you were inferring in your post: “An irreprehensible person is one who lives in such a way that it is not necessary to be corrected or admonished because he does things that are considered disapproved by those around him.” In a way, that seems beyond reproach. I know it likely isn’t fully attainable, but it seems you were moving in that direction with your thoughts in this post. Accountability relationships definitely help maintain a posture of humility, especially for leaders. I’m grateful you have such relationships in your life.

  2. Greg Reich says:

    Thanks for pointing out the fears that intimidate the leader. How do you see leading self as a way of overcoming these fears?

    • Joe Castillo says:

      Hey, Greg, I can answer your question with some reading from Pete Scazzero. Stuff I really related with when I look at self-lead.

      • 1. I failed to put first things first. I did not steward myself or my family well.
      • 2. I wasted time trying to live someone else’s life and ministry. I grew anxious as other churches thrived and flourished in their large Christmas events.

      3. I engaged in faulty thinking. Jesus taught and modeled that the ways of God are little and slow. Yet, I allowed myself to be seduced by the culture’s message of big and fast.

      4. I didn’t say “No” strongly or clearly enough. The voices coming at me were loud. I needed time alone, and with my wife to get clear on our limits.

      5. I didn’t adjust my rhythms sufficiently. I may have taken the week between Christmas and the New Year to recharge, but I often “cheated” by doing work on sermons and long-range planning during that time. (Thus, it was not a real Sabbath). I also needed more time to compensate for how much life I had expended during the month of December.

  3. Steve Wingate says:

    “I am more worried about how to lead myself. What does it mean to be the leader of yourself?” During rehab following my 1st of 3 concussions, the doctors led me to be a participant in the healing process more and more. It takes courage and discipline to lead oneself with all the other voices surrounding.

    • Joe Castillo says:

      Love that Steve. leading your self into healing. As a leader, I have learned to be aware of my limitations, my weaknesses, sin and anything else that is in between and God

  4. John McLarty says:

    I’ve found one of the most challenging and important aspects of developing as a leader is remaining self-differentiated and true to who I am even as the organization is asking (perhaps even demanding) me to be another way. Good self-care, counseling, supportive friends and family have been crucial for me. I’ve also learned to not apologize for taking my days off and vacation time! So I’ve started to wonder- what is the difference between establishing healthy boundaries and setting up defenses?

    • Joe Castillo says:

      establishing healthy boundaries and setting up defenses?
      Good question John. Do you think that defenses could lead to an unhealthy boundaries?

      • John McLarty says:

        Absolutely- I think we sometimes confuse boundaries with defenses and justify unhealthy defensive practices as self-care. There are many things that drive this behavior- ego, pride, laziness, etc.- all things that we hide “backstage” as Walker might say.

  5. Shawn Cramer says:

    I was hoping you would talk about power this week, Joe. I’m curious why you make the jump to being untouchable. I understood “undefended” with an inner strength that was not determined on ego or others’ judgements.

  6. Joe Castillo says:

    I guess I see them all link together. would you say that power, untouchable, undefended have a relationship?

  7. Jer Swigart says:

    Great stuff here, Joe, especially regarding the leadership of the self. Taking this in a bit of a different direction, I’m wondering about your thoughts regarding how power corrupts. You started this post speaking to 27 years worth of leadership experience and the pitfalls/obstacles that you’ve observed. Could you speak a bit to how you’ve seen/experienced power corrupt leaders and what could/should be done to steward power well?

  8. Joe Castillo says:

    I can honestly say that we are not all perfect in the kingdom, nevertheless when we see power being misused in front of our face, you only really had two choices, you can either speak out against it or you stay quiet and don’t say anything. Unfortunately, in my case I can’t stay quiet when I see injustice being done especially in the midst of the people of God.

    One other issue is that the abuse of power could be very contagious and if you’re not careful you start behaving like those in power that and misconduct all the time. Misuse allocation of money, unfairly removal of pastors, mis headlining on to resources that were meant to share with others, favoritism, unwellness to share the wealth, just to mention a few are the maligns that the church and leaders straggle within ministry.

    As a pastor, police chaplain, assistant superintendent, missionary and leader, I seen misused used of power and I have also missed up power many times Misuse of power misuse of power I part because of lack of self-aware of how should be in Christ. But below is a remedy recipe .

    Here is some advice from a powerful leader Scazzero

    • Your first, non-negotiable calling as a spiritual leader (0:57)
    • The often-ignored commandment that leads to spiritual growth (1:28)
    • How to implement daily rhythms of being with Jesus (2:07)
    • The importance of structuring your days in thirds (2:42)

  9. Chris Pollock says:

    Attachment to the other…who offers unconditional regard.

    There’s a translation of Psalm 46:10 that reads, ‘Cease striving and know that I am God.’

    May we be undefended when the inclination to strive peters out and we fall fully into trust. Perhaps in this moment we become most fully who we were intended to be? As we accept our being fully accepted by the One ‘who offers unconditional regard’ then, that primeval O.G. leadership is birthed and begins to breathe. No longer the need to impress anyone.

    Thanks Joe, I appreciate your attitude.

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