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

This Book ACTUALLY Helped

Written by: on April 11, 2019

When I heard Jake and Jean were so jacked about hearing Brene Brown speak at their recent conference near the Air Force Academy, I figured we were in for a real treat this week with Dare To Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. [1] Their contagiousness was infectious and Brene Brown did not disappoint! I was shocked at how many ACTUAL applications I had this week from our text (I only wish I knew how to put that little mark over the e in Brene).

The Pastor in Boise whose church I gut-wrenchingly closed last Sunday ACTUALLY said this to me, word for word,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt [2]

Last week I asked the Pastor of the largest church in our denomination how I could pray for him, he ACTUALLY responded with a one word request; courage!

“Courage is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured. The four skill sets are: Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust, and Learning to Rise.” Brene Brown [3]

I received a surprising one sentence resignation letter from a Pastor in North Dakota today. Unsurprisingly, his overseers ACTUALLY told him he lacked this one vital characteristic, vulnerability. This Pastor never let a single person in, like a desert island, through several years of connected ministry. Not one friend, confidant, or mentor. We fellow Pastors liked him, but he remained emotionally isolated. It was heartbreaking! Dr. Brown, trained as a social worker, said this about vulnerability,

“The definition of vulnerability as the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure…vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome….Are vulnerable experiences easy? No. Can they make us feel anxious and uncertain? Yes. Do they make us want to self-protect? Always. Does showing up for these experiences with a whole heart and no armor require courage? Absolutely.” [4]

Last Wednesday, I sat in front of a local church Council in Wyoming, pointedly talking about the request for ordination of a same sex attracted Children’s Pastor, defending our denomination’s stance of not affirming homosexual behavior, while still holding the obvious tension on our miraculous transformation journeys surrounding holiness and sanctification. This one ACTUAL jewel of Brown’s kept screaming in my overly tired head,

“Clear is kind, unclear is unkind…Feeding people half-truths or bull**** to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind. Not getting clear about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind. Talking about people rather than to them is unkind.” [5]

After Monday’s Zoom I very publicly apologized to Dr. Jason about my very public display of disrespect with the question, “What about the Catholic Church?” The ACTUAL words that were jumping around in my mind for a few hours before taking responsibility ACTUALLY mirrored number 3 on Brene’s self-preservation list on page 51,

“No way am I going to be honest about this. No one else does it. Why do I have to put myself out there?” [6]

I’m still glad I apologized. Kinda maybe. Probably certainly.

I am trying to put into practice this helpful new concept from Dare to Lead called ”wholeheartedness—an unarmored heart”. [7] I would appreciate your prayers. Tomorrow I am in New Mexico working with two Navajo churches trying to use earlier lessons from our previously helpful book The Culture Map,

“You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.” Erin Meyers [8]

It’s ACTUALLY been a whale of a week. Today, I am grateful to be meeting face to face near a Western airport with Dave Ramsey’s team, who have ventured far from Nashville and are helping me with my final field research project. It has been a healthy respite from several professional challenges I find myself navigating. I am not complaining, just being honest.

Thanks for the timely help, Ms. Brown! And for the accurate recommendation, Jake and Jean! And to our whole Cohort, thank you for your graciousness and camaraderie. May we always be colleagues!

[1] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. New York: Random House, 2018.

[2] Ibid., XVII.

[3] Ibid., 10.

[4] Ibid., 19.

[5] Ibid., 48.

[6] Ibid., 50.

[7] Ibid., 51.

[8] Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done across Cultures. New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2015. 26.

About the Author

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

10 responses to “This Book ACTUALLY Helped”

  1. Dave Watermulder says:

    Wow! That was a whale of a week. Man, I want to come on a week-long ridealong with you some day, just to see the various situations that you are a part of. I loved the way that you immediately applied so much of this book to the settings you were in. That is so cool to see! I really enjoyed this blog– thank you for the real-life connections.

  2. Mike says:

    I am so proud of you and the Eights for making it this far, with Collen added to the team. PTL!
    Thanks for the visit to Boise. It was great to share a meal, a Zoom LGP8 video meeting, and good fellowship. Sorry you had to lead through a church closure here in my backyard. Remember, I am available for you if any of those folks need anything.
    Jay, while I hear your apology, and know it was important for you to make it, I suspect it was mostly between you and the Holy Spirit. I for sure did not hear or discern a problem. After all, once we were desensitized by Jean’s blog opening statement, everything else, including your question, passed censorship!
    A wise person once told me how to respond after sticking my foot in my mouth, “act surprised, show concern, deny involvement, make counteraccusations.” While this may not be a proverbial principle, it will make your congregants heads turn and buy you some space and time to reflect while considering a more appropriate response. Lol
    Great post Jay.
    Stand firm,

  3. Great heartfelt post as usual Jay, and so glad our recommendation rang true for you as well. What an amazing quote by Roosevelt, that obviously had a huge influence on Brené (by the way, on my computer I press “option” “e” and then “e” again to get the accent to show up) 🙂 , and that is crazy that the pastor in Boise quoted the same one. And the references to courage and vulnerability seemed to be pointing you to this week’s text over and over. Sounds like a wild week, but glad Brown’s materials were helpful and timely. Blessings to you and glad we can be lifelong colleagues!

  4. Dan Kreiss says:


    Wow!! This book came at a critical time for you. You are certainly in the thick of things and have individuals and situations all around you that could use a little of Brene’ Brown’s medicine.

    Leadership is never easy but I suspect that your current work where you are leading other leaders is particularly challenging. I am sure that sometimes it seems you have too many plates that you are trying to keep up and spinning. I believe, however, that the reason your denomination chose you for this role is exactly because you demonstrate much of the vulnerability that Brene’ suggests is needed in ‘unarmored’ leadership. I pray that your willingness to be a vulnerable leader not only provides an example for those you are tasked to lead but also is a means by which you continue to be formed and shaped into the man God created you to be.

  5. Jean Ollis says:

    Jay, talk about a challenging week! But kudos to you for forging straight ahead into the uncomfortable. I love that you highlighted clear is kind, unclear is unkind. Yes, yes, and yes! And can I tell you you have always been clear in our cohort! And I so appreciate your honesty and integrity regardless if we have the same belief or not. The fact that you own your belief in such a loving, open way is all that matters. I hope you know I have the deepest respect for you and your family and your conference is so fortunate to have you at its helm. God surely placed you in this role for times such as this…

    • Jay Forseth says:


      Your words were just what I needed this week! Thank you so much. I appreciate you, and the feeling is mutual for you. Love you Jean and looking forward to seeing you face to face soon.

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    Jay, great post. I have always been amazed that to this day, the most amazing preacher I have ever listened to had the worst social skills I have ever seen in a person. For three days he taught a class of Master’s students, and yet, before we could get to him, he would run out of the class and leave before we could ask him a single question. The last day, he finally admitted to us all that he envied us dearly. The words were shocking, because we had all been so moved by his speaking. His words will always hang in my thoughts; he said, “I am a world famous speaker who has been asked to preach around the world. Sadly, all I ever wanted to be was a minister…but I just don’t know how.” Oh to learn to be vulnerable.

  7. Trisha Welstad says:

    Love and prayer to you Jay! Thank you for sharing your week with us in a transparent way. I understood “kind is clear” on a whole new level when you shared your example. It is good to hear from one another on how this stuff actually affects our lives.

    I hope all went well with the Navajo churches.

  8. Kyle Chalko says:

    excellent post Jay. Great tod see how you are using this knowledge and hows its influence is spreading accross your region. Way to model vulnerablity and courage.

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