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

Too Free To Fail

Written by: on November 14, 2019

The biggest fault to Simon Walker’s character that I can find is that he didn’t make time to hang out with us while we were all visiting Oxford.  Walker, an ordained Anglican cleric and leading scholar in the world of culture and cognition is perhaps most widely known for his writing in the field of leadership.  “His central notion is summarised in the idea of being ‘undefended’ as a leader. This idea can be defined most simply as ‘being free enough as a leader to be fully available for the situation in hand, without being compromised by fears, doubts and the need for self preservation.’”[1]  What a glorious place to find oneself indeed!

Unfortunately for so many leaders, they do not find themselves in a position where self-preservation isn’t a large part of the decision-making equation.  Whether employment, prestige, or compensation, it is hard to reach that “undefended place.”  However, the rewards for humanity, and dare I say all of creation, are unfathomable if one can attain this position according to Walker.  “Leadership is an activity that leads other people into full humanity: which enables them to take hold of, and take responsibility for, the life that they, as a unique, particular person within the created human race, have been given to live.”[2]  To this researcher, the leadership style Walker describes appears to be one of the most life giving and affirming that we have studied . . . and all snark aside, I would hope the leadership style lifted up by the Anglican priest would be.

I also found this book to be such a great read at the end of our semester, when we have discussed a myriad of issues and are all chin deep in our own individual research.  Issues like bullying, which have not only sparked passionate discussions in our Zoom chats but have even boiled over into our Facebook (FACEBOOK?) conversations, are touched upon by Walker.  Issues that arise when someone’s “front stage” does not align with their “back stage” have certainly arisen during our conversations surrounding Beth Moore and John MacArthur (or maybe this issue is better addressed by MacArthur’s poor personal defense strategy due in large part to the hostile world that he helped create?) I wonder how much unnecessary pain was caused to the Percy family because far too many people felt the need to be “defended leaders” instead of “undefended leaders.”

So how are we to live more fulfilled lives as undefended leaders?  “A veil has been cast over our eyes to make us believe that the world is one of duty, fear and self-protection.  We must choose to inhabit a world that is basically generous, and make a commitment to trust ourselves to it.  That will change the kind of leaders we are.”[3] Committing ourselves to live together in a generous world won’t only change the type of leaders we are, but the type of world we live in as well.

[1] “Leadership,” Simonpwalker.com, last accessed November 14, 2019, http://simonpwalker.com/leadership/4532701005.

[2] Simon Walker, The Undefended Leader Trilogy, (Carlisle, CA: Piquant Books, 2010), 154.

[3] “Walker,” alisonmorgan.co.uk, last accessed, November 14, 2019, https://www.alisonmorgan.co.uk/Books/Walker%202007.pdf.

About the Author

Rev Jacob Bolton

5 responses to “Too Free To Fail”

  1. “The biggest fault to Simon Walker’s character that I can find is that he didn’t make time to hang out with us while we were all visiting Oxford.”

    Right? Perhaps they can arrange that for the next London Advance. As an alumni (that’s the hope), I’d go to see him. Maybe by then, I’ll have become a more ‘undefended’ leader.

  2. Karen Rouggly says:

    Great post, Jacob. I totally agree with your thoughts – this book was awesome and such a great way to end the chapter!

  3. Jacob, great post indeed. I like your perspective on the rewards to humanity and as you put it, to humanity of attaining the kind of leadership as a undefended leader, are indeed beyond imagination. We may never attain it but we should not cease put our best in attaining the same as leaders.

  4. Mary Mims says:

    Thanks Jacob for your insight. I agree that it might have been good to meet Dr. Walker why we were in Oxford. I thank God that we are becoming committed, at the least to one another in this cohort, to be undefended leaders. Thank you for your part in making this happen!

  5. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Very enlightening blog, Jacob. I like how you “think through” Walker’s readings and share your viewpoint in comparison. I love the quote you highlighted that said “we must choose to inhabit a world that is basically generous, and make a commitment to trust ourselves to it. That will change the kind of leaders we are.” I agree wholeheartedly with this. I believe that to be an “undefended leader,” we must trust God’s plan and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit for our guidance. Then, we just need to step forward in His armor – and make amazing things happen through Him!

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