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

The Unlikely Convergence of Soul Friends: A Return to Joy

Written by: on February 22, 2024

Several years ago, when teaching Kindergarten, I hosted Patio Nights before the start of each school year.  In the August heat, families enjoyed popsicles, met other families in our classroom community and best of all my incoming K students would come so we could begin getting to know one another, see their lockers, and go on a scavenger hunt in the classroom to become familiar with the new space.  While I was actively engaged in getting to know my kiddos and their families, I really enjoyed seeing the start of a new community.  Little did I know that God had a priceless gift to share with me on one of these patio nights.

On one such occasion, I was enjoying a conversation with a mom who to this day has become my very “bestest” friend (in Kindergarten language) maybe a soul friend.  She came to Patio Night and immediately we engaged in a conversation of faith.  She shared that her husband was a local pastor and she was a lawyer. We shared not only faith in Jesus Christ but also the privilege of serving Him in ministry with our spouses.  Her son was in my class.  Years following we had so much fun, sharing mutual interests in theater, art, and music (we went on a “Thelma and Louise” trip to Chicago for a weekend to see Hamilton).  She even supported my mission work in the country of Haiti, through an organization I serve called Team Teach Haiti. [1]  

My friend, Jennifer, checks up on me and we meet regularly for coffee, a walk, or whatever nugget of activity and time that we can squeeze in.  She has been my cheerleader in ordination and through this doctoral journey.  When she checks up on me, she can tell when my strength and stamina are low.  To some degree, she knows my code.  Several years ago, she learned that when she asks me how I am doing and I answer, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”, it is code for “I’m enduring and need encouragement.”  When I was reading this week’s text, the part that leaped off the page was when the authors were writing about the importance of joy.  “The critical point between the brain functioning well or starting to fail is where it runs out of joy and begins to run on fear as its motivation.  Incomplete fast track processing is a form of being “out of touch” that makes us reactive, rigid, with serious implications to living, and leading ineffectively.” [2]  In recent days, I believe my brain has been running out of joy in my work around my NPO, forgetting the bigger picture, and facing a situation that triggers fear.  It has been the act of remembering the people who would be at my side, like my friend Jennifer, even when she is not available, but I know still encourages me by who she reminds me I am.  The friendship we share helps me return to joy.  As the authors stated, “Returning to joy may just be the most important habit you can develop as a leader.” [3]  I would add that I certainly cannot return to joy on my own.

Much of the content of the book correlates to previous readings, podcasts and conferences I have enjoyed regarding leadership, around topics that include maximizing my capacity as a leader, fast vs. slow thinking (Kahnemann), and the interdependence within leadership. In summary, RARE Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder is a leadership resource that explores four uncommon habits related to emotional intelligence and how it affects one’s leadership.  The four uncommon habits include:  1)  Remain relational, 2)  Act Like yourself, 3)  Return to Joy, 4)  Endure Hardship.  [4]

The authors emphasize the significance of building strong, healthy relationships as a foundation for effective leadership. They advocate for leaders to understand and regulate their emotions, fostering resilience in the face of challenges. The book encourages the integration of brain science and Biblical principles to enhance the capacity of a leader. It offers practical insights and actionable steps for cultivating a culture of trust, collaboration, and emotional intelligence within teams. RARE Leadership comes from understanding how to build our identities as individuals and groups.  

[1] Team Teach Haiti; I train and develop curriculum and training resources for administrators and teachers in Haiti.  Although, during my doctoral journey. I have had to pause some of my work with TTH.  I lead teams of teachers, as we  collaborate and create units of training curriculum around best instructional practices, facilitating interactive read alouds, collecting data and using data to inform instruction, classroom management, using nature for math and language instruction, and more. The teaching teams then train Haitian facilitators, who then train teachers and administrators on location in Haiti.  We print the materials, provide the computer and projector, as well as ship to Haitian facilitators to use in their sessions.  Team Teach Haiti has trained over 1,000 educators in Haiti.  We flew one of the facilitators to Michigan to come to my classroom, several years ago, and participate in an American public school setting followed by additional training for facilitation.

[2]  Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder, Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trsut, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead, Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2021, 64.

[3] Ibid, 171.

[4] Ibid, 58.

About the Author


Cathy Glei

Cathy Glei serves as an instructional leader and pastor with over 27 years in education and ministry. She is dedicated to discipling others as they grow in their relationship with God, others and the world. Cathy has facilitated numerous professional development sessions, trainings, and workshops in both education and ministry. Passionate about supporting others in uncovering the Creator's design within them, Cathy lives in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and their eight-year-old Springer Spaniel, Otis. Cathy is a mother of three daughters and "Gooma" (grandma) to two adorable grandsons (emphasis on adorable 😊). She enjoys listening and exchanging laughter and stories with others, hanging out with friends, both old and new, as well as being outdoors, enjoying activities such as cycling, camping, hiking, and kayaking.

10 responses to “The Unlikely Convergence of Soul Friends: A Return to Joy”

  1. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for sharing about your friend and the work you do in Haiti. Both sound wonderful! I appreciate that you brought up the important point that returning to joy involves relationships with others. It is hard to get their on our own. I liked their model of identity groups that help us hone Rare leadership tools. I often work with women to build a Team of 10 supportive people as they go through their recovery journey. It never occurred to me to specifically address how we return to joy. We often get there, but we don’t name it and ask for that type of support. Supportive soul friends are awesome!

  2. Hey Cathy! WOW! I love what you are doing through Team Teach Haiti! Beautiful! That’s what discipleship is all about. AMEN! Based upon your post I have an easy question.
    How challenging is it to develop curriculum and training resources for administrators and teachers in Haiti since it is an entirely different culture…unless you are Haitian, you don’t need to answer this question.

    • mm Cathy Glei says:

      Thanks for reading Todd. It is difficult. Several in our group have been to Haiti in the early 2000s when the conditions were safer. Sadly, one of our missionaries was held at gunpoint when traveling on the road from Dessalines to Port du Prince. While our team hasn’t been able to go back, modern technology makes it possible to stay connected. Yey!!! When we meetup for our planning meetings and work sessions, we remind ourselves of the conditions to consider in our planning. We also work with Haitian leaders to stay connected. Haitian schools may not have (many do not) have all of the learning tools, training or resources (books, paper, copy machine, computers, etc.) that schools in other countries have. The team revisits this often so that our curriculum pieces highlight what they do have and can use for effective instruction. Thank you for asking.

  3. Adam Harris says:

    Great post Cathy, what you said here, “I would add that I certainly cannot return to joy on my own.” is one of the great takeaways from this book. Without spiritual practices and good people around us it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to manufacture joy responses. It reminds me of John’s gospel’s “I AM the vine” sayings. “You can do nothing apart from me”. I’m finding that to be more and more true in leadership. Appreciate your posts!

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    “The joy of the Lord is my strength” is a great code phrase for, Stuff is hard! I like that. How do you experience the Joy of the Lord? what does that look like for you?

    • mm Cathy Glei says:

      Thank you for reading and asking. Some days the “joy of the Lord” looks like a pause, a “sigh of redirection”, a step back and remember, a reflection, a resetting presence by the Holy Spirit that reminds me of the bigger picture.

  5. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Cathy!

    Thank you for your insightful thinking through your post. I like it.

    You write, “The authors emphasize the significance of building strong, healthy relationships as a foundation for effective leadership. They advocate for leaders to understand and regulate their emotions, fostering resilience in the face of challenges. The book encourages the integration of brain science and Biblical principles to enhance the capacity of a leader.”

    What role do emotions play in the authors’ leadership style, and how can leaders promote resilience under difficult situations?

    • mm Cathy Glei says:

      Emotions are a unique part of who we are as made in the Image of God. I haven’t found that suppressing them is helpful to me, my shadow or my leadership. However, I have found that surrendering them is helpful. Seeking the Lord, in the moment, for wisdom and redirection (when trying to understand my emotions and reactions to situations) is a reflective practice I try to habituate, with the Holy Spirit’s help.

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