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

The most common leadership failure stems from trying to apply technical solutions to adaptive challenges.

Written by: on January 4, 2023

Leadership is described as influencing people towards a specific objective. Moses had the task of leading the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land but had to get through many challenges. Despite the many miracles that God performed for the children of Israel, they would forget so soon and rebel against Moses and sabotage his leadership repeatedly. Instead of listening to Moses and following him obediently, they frequently complained and murmured against him, even asking him to take them back to Egypt. Tod Bolsinger refers to the resistance to leadership by the followers as sabotage in his book Tempered resilience.[1] David led his followers through the wilderness as Saul sought to kill him, the Amalekites raided Ziklag burning their houses and taking away their families and possessions. His men turned against him, but he remained focused and dependent on God to become a great king. These great biblical leaders faced both external challenges and internal sabotage, which helped to build their resilience and add to their leadership toolkit.

Bolsinger singles out external challenges and the inner resistance in organizations as the main factors of change upon which leadership is honed to produce tempered resilience, which he describes as how leaders are formed in the crucible of change. He uses the analogy of forging iron through the symbolic use of the terms working, heating, holding, hammering, cooling, and reheating to add stress to raw iron to show how leadership formation happens in the leadership arena while leading.[2] The development of future leaders has to be intentional by exposing them to leadership opportunities. Through self-reflection, relationships, practice, and stress in actual leadership practice, leaders become more robust and flexible, offering greater wisdom and skill to their organizations. To be resilient leaders, we must persevere the “oozy, humbling, oh-so-vulnerable process,” but the result is all so worthy of it.[3] Resilience for Christian or faith leaders is “the ability to wisely persevere towards the mission God has put before them amid both external challenges and the internal resistance of the leader’s followers.”[4]

The greatest challenge for the future is raising leaders who can lead change. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, is famously quoted as saying that “change is the only constant.”[5] One of the most extraordinary responsibilities of leaders is to manage change to minimize risks associated with external challenges, manage internal conflicts, and positively influence people in nations, organizations, families, and other entities to achieve their objectives. This requires resilience and grit that is honed through the crucible of change. Leaders can only be developed y exposing the young and inexperienced to environments that allow them to be challenged and sometimes fail, these are the opportunities for growth in leadership skills.

Bolsinger, who is a practical theology professor, author, speaker, consultant, and leadership coach, borrows from Edwin Friedman’s failure of nerve and Martin Luther King Jr’s writings to show how stress, resistance, self-=reflection, vulnerability, humility, relationships, practice and rest helps the leaders to develop adaptive leadership.[6][7] Friedman emphasizes the need for the leader’s presence where he can adapt to anxiety and stress and remain focused to lead others. King emphasizes spiritual and character formation that helps one to adapt and lead others through change. It is essential as Christian leaders to take responsibility for identifying and giving other potential leaders the opportunity for growth in their leadership. As much as there are born leaders, it’s our responsibility to train, mentor, and coach leaders who will continue to lead into the future.

As a Christian executive leader of a faith-based organization that I helped start and grow, I have a big responsibility to plan for succession and manage the growth and expansion we foresee in the future. With our stated and planned growth in other countries and within our country Kenya. We are acutely aware of the necessity of a leadership development program to develop a pool of leaders that we can send to new regions and countries to take leadership of our new ministry stations. My research for this doctoral program revolves around developing protocols for establishing new ministry centers and debriefing to improve the processes and practices constantly. Identifying and developing new leaders is a key component in managing this growth. My doctoral program will equip me to develop new leaders as a legacy. I live in a developing world where a lack of good leadership is the key hindrance to development. I take it upon myself to develop leaders within our organization and in the church as part of the ministry mandate that our Lord and master Jesus has given to us as Christian leaders.


[1] Tod Bolsinger. Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed at the Crucible of Change. (Westmont, Illinois, USA. IVP, 2020).

[2] Ibid,……pg 5.

[3] Ibid,….pg 90.

[4][4] Ibid,…..pg 35.

[5]Heraclitus & Kirk, Geoffrey S. Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments. (Cambridge, England, UK. Cambridge University Press, 2010).

[6] Friedman, Edwin. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership In The Age of Quick Fix. (New York, USA. Seabury Books, 2007).

[7] Martin Luther King Jr. Why We Cannot Wait. (New York, NY, USA. Harper & Row, 1964)

About the Author


Mary Kamau

Christ follower, Mother of 3 Biological children and one Foster daughter, Wife, Pastor, Executive Director of Institutional Development and Strategy in Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

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