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

Use Your Mistakes As Stepping Stones…

Written by: on November 17, 2019

Being an effective leader: what does that mean? According to Walker, the goal of effective leadership is leading out of who you are and helping enable people to take responsibility.[1] This is some pretty powerful stuff!

In one of my favorite passages from The Undefended Leader, the author shares that it is a moral responsibility and an ethical imperative to know ourselves, not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our followers. And we must not only to know ourselves but be free from ourselves. It is freedom that is the critical factor: freedom to make decisions and choose courses of action that, in the end, may lead to personal loss rather than personal gain.[2]

As a leader, we are helping vulnerable people find their way by encouraging them to take responsibility in their lives – just as we are taking responsibility in our own life. Often, our followers have become vulnerable through the struggles of life and are seeking the opportunity to become stronger within themselves. When I owned a company, I found that helping people become leaders (sometimes even in their own minds) brought about greater confidence and responsibility within them. I called it “the entrepreneurial spirit versus the employee spirit” mentality, which created a leadership style versus an 8-5 clock-watcher style. My vision was that each of my employees have a ‘responsibility title’ – director of sales, manager of operations, supervisor of office management (even though there may not have been anyone working under them), which helped them think of themselves as “leaders. I found that both their responsibility level increased as well as their productivity level with their new title. It was an amazing experiment – and it worked!

As I segue into the world of human trafficking, I have found that trafficking victims also need to feel empowerment to heal. Helping victims to become leaders of their own domain leads them to change their “title” from victim to survivor. Helping these individuals find independence and empowerment is a daunting task. They are often broken souls who are filled with shame and guilt. Building trust is key towards building a relationship with the victims (as trust is often a missing link because of the abuse of trust they have encountered). Once trust is developed, steps toward healing can begin.

Often, though, victims of the trafficking world do not see themselves as victims. As a coping survival skill, they may develop loyalties to their trafficker, even though their trafficker is also their abuser. So sometimes it means creating a victim mentality within them (to help them understand that they are victims of horrible circumstances) before I can help them to turn that into a survivor mentality. Thank you, God, for always walking with me on this journey, as the delicate balance of a trafficking victim’s future lies within your helping touch – and I am only the human presence of your guidance.

A beautiful saying (from an unknown author) reflects that you should not carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them.

I can do all things through my Christ who strengthens me.

[1] Simon P Walker, The Undefended Leader (Carlisle: Piquant, 2010).

[2] Walker, The Undefended Leader, 49.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

11 responses to “Use Your Mistakes As Stepping Stones…”

  1. Mary Mims says:

    Thank you Nancy for your post and your life work at restoring the broken. This helps me in knowing what to do with the broken people I encounter. I appreciate knowing what works or why something doesn’t work. I pray God will continue to bless you in all that you do.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much for responding to my blog, Mary. And thanks for the kind words. I appreciate you and all that you do in Christian ministry as well. Human trafficking causes devastating trauma for victims. I pray that someday the church will step in and take part in the fight.

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Walker says leadership is all about trust and power. Undefended leaders build trust and utilize their power for the benefit of others. How would you see this playing out in your area of interest, that is, researching human trafficking?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Harry. Trust is the most important element when working with human trafficking victims. Their trust of others has been destroyed through lies and abuse. By taking it slow with victims and building trust through friendship, they will begin to open up and share their story. It is such a beautiful thing when a victim begins to tell their story. Their vulnerability is so fragile, so judgement can never be a part of the equation as we work with victims. I repeat over and over, “It was never your fault” because all of them feel it is their value in some skewed way. It’s quite the journey.

  3. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Walker says leadership is all about trust and power. Undefended leaders build trust and utilize their power for the benefit of others. How would you see this playing out in your area of interest, that is, researching human trafficking? Many blessings.

  4. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Nancy, I am constantly amazed and inspired with the way you can relate our reading with your field. Your work is so important, thank you for helping so many change their title.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thank you so much, Jacob. So happy for you in your new adventure also. I’ll bet that you’ll have the opportunity to cross paths with many human trafficking victims on your journey in indirect ways. Blessings to you, my friend!

  5. John Muhanji says:

    Nancy, once again you come with a blast as you reflect on the undefended leader by Galloway. I like the way you always connect most of the readings to the human trafficking area of your research. I like the way you say how to transform the human trafficking victims to survivors from their mindset. Building trust in them and enabling them using their mistakes as their stepping stones to something great. You have made me understand what human trafficking is like and what the victims go through mentally, emotionally and physically.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      thank you so much for your kind words, John. I am learning so much about human trafficking – just as you are in your research on Quakerism. Such powerful topics we are both undertaking! I wish you blessings on our journey.

  6. Great post Nancy, I love reading your posts as you relate to your work context which in many ways speaks into my context of the vulnerable people in society. In working in the slums and other marginalized areas, helping people take responsibility for their lives is not easy but leading them to Faith has been one of our greatest successes in doing this. It is always a journey that demands patience with the people as the transformation takes place but its a very fulfilling work. I am sure you have many stories of great transformations that you have witnessed in your context.

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