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

The Quest For More, Spirit Led or Dopamine?

Written by: on January 23, 2022

Where and when is our next school and church plant? This is a question that has become common place for our leadership team, and they would be worried if the founder directors do not ask this question for an extended length of time. Our organization, Missions of Hope International[1] has grown very fast since 2007 when we had 378 children in our schools and only one church plant. Since then, we have expanded to 30 new locations, with over 22,000 children, 26 church plants, and are looking forward to many more. Could it be that we’re always excited to get the next new center and once we get, we get bored, and excitement grows for the next one?  As I read Lieberman’s book, Molecule of more, I felt like I had finally known why we are always looking for one more school but I am reminded that it’s the person of The Holy Spirit is key and has led us in the growth of the ministry, and He will continue to guide us. Daniel Z. Lieberman is a professor and chair for clinical affairs in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at George Washington University. Michael E Long is a trained Physicist, an award-winning writer, screenwriter and playwright. The molecule for more is a psychology and behavioral science book that is a big breakthrough in understanding human behavior and a great tool for leadership, and adding to emotional intelligence.

Working with orphaned and vulnerable children and their families in the urban poor communities and other marginalized rural communities is very fulfilling, as you witness great transformational stories but it has its challenges. As a founder director of the organization involved in the leadership, I get to witness some of the great transformational stories but I also get see some of these people who are involved in drugs, alcohol or commercial sex going back to the old habits which can be frustrating. When this happens, we do not give up on them but we follow them up through our church plants. Over the years, we have discipled many to become church pastors and lay church leaders. Others have been trained in different skills, helped to start businesses, and others have joined adult education programs with great results. It is easier to work with the children in our formal schools because we take them in at pre-school age and instill the right Christian values as we give high quality Christian education through to high school level, and they can access government assistance for their higher education in universities and other institutions. Reading Lieberman and Long’s book about the dopamine was thus very eye opening for me and I could relate with real life cases of hardcore drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals, and commercial sex workers, as I also made many self-discoveries of my behavior patterns.[2] I have gained so much insight that will help me in many ways. While I did not complete reading the book, I am glad that I have it as my library copy and can keep it as a reference book. I was able to understand why these addicts look like they are okay and are living in denial of their “sickness” and can find themselves going back to these bad habits after we have worked with them to stop.

The church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.[3] It is important to note that the church is such an important institution in society and offers hope to such people who are vulnerable in society, more than any other institutions. This was made clearer to me by reading this book and realizing that as much as I can understand the working of dopamine, I am still limited beyond mere knowledge. This knowledge is good and raises my understanding of human behavior but its not the panacea for all these vulnerabilities. We need to provide a safe and conducive place for these vulnerable people where they can be loved, counseled, listened to and be helped to change with time, a place that they can feel safe to share their experiences and find hope for their transformation. The Gospel of Jesus is backed by the power of The Holy Spirit that works supernaturally to do extraordinary things in bringing great transformation to cases that look hopeless. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the reason, we hope ever day for more transformational stories and keeping growing to new locations to add to the number of schools and church plants, we keep adding to our children and reach out ever more aggressively with the life giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. If dopamine adds to our appetite for more and more schools and church plants, so be it, for us it means more transformational stories for the glory of God. Another key take from the book, is understanding how people behave in the organization, as a leader, it equips me with emotional intelligence that is a key competence for leadership and influencing people in the organization. As I progress in my doctoral research work, the knowledge of the role of dopamine in human behavior is key and will be very helpful in understanding the dynamics of human behavior in my target research community and guide my interactions with them. Lieberman’s book will certainly be a reference book for me that is sure to be in my bibliography.

[1] Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

[2] Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long. The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race. (Dallas, Texas. Benbella Books, 2018)

[3] Bill Hybels. Courageous Leadership. Field-Tested Strategy For The 360’ Leader. (Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan, 2012) pg. 27.

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.

One response to “The Quest For More, Spirit Led or Dopamine?”

  1. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Mary – What a significant amount of growth for your organization in a relatively short amount of time. I cannot imagine the conflicting obligations you face with over 30 locations. I love when you say “If dopamine adds to our appetite for more and more schools and church plants, so be it, for us it means more transformational stories for the glory of God” as it points directly to the motivation behind what you are working so hard on.

    I’d be interested to know more about your NPO and if it relates to the work you do on the daily.

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