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

Well Known or Known Well

Written by: on November 20, 2014

“As for the audio and pictures – it’s fine to show them live in church. It’s probably not the best to post them on our (church’s) website – with the increased persecution they are facing now, they’ve asked us to be even more careful than we already have been…As for FB (facebook)… we limit what we post on our FB page because it has such wide scope. (Our web sites are limited, but FB is not, so I put very few things on that.) It’ll be ok if you keep it generic – no audio spots, but a general description is ok, probably without mentioning (ministry name) (we go against every marketing concept there is. :))”

The above response was from a friend of mine who works with an international organization. I had asked about promoting a project their ministry is involved with. The reality is that I knew the answer without asking, but because we are reading Open Leadership: How Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li, I thought it would be worthwhile to ask. This response is in direct opposition to most ideas that are mentioned in Li’s book, which exalts technological immersion to move businesses into greater relevance and success. One of the major premises of the book is: “The first step is recognizing that you are not in control—your customers, employees, and partners are.” (Loc. 368) This is a necessary statement for a profit minded business and it is also true that churches and ministries can get caught into making this thought a priority, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact we should be wary of the temptation to be well known.


Suffice to say that there are number of points of divergence that I have with the author, however, there are some excellent contributions for those in leadership that are worth giving further consideration. There are excellent books written for the business world that can be useful to running a non-profit organization; this book can be one of them, if shaken out and filtered through a Kingdom minded, not-for-profit lens. Additionally, as I come to the end of this semester this book also brings together a few elements that have been part of my thinking over the last three months. Here’s three of them:

  1. Healthy relationships are crucial

This is the time of year in our church family where we consider those who will serve as part of our leadership team for the next year. The process has been transformed from a chore, a few years ago, to a welcome part of my calendar of duties/privileges. The criteria, in its basic form is this: who do we know who has demonstrates a genuine love for the Lord; is passionate about what the Lord is doing through our church family; and is already demonstrating those first two in the way they serve in formal ministry and just as importantly in the community. Yes there are other criteria that we consider, but these three are the key because they should reveal a healthy relationship with Our God and a healthy relationship with others. It isn’t perfect, but the Lord has used it to provide stable leadership that is willing to engage the joys and the messiness that comes with ministry.

“The result of these new relationships is open leadership, which I define as: having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals.” (Loc. 466)

Healthy relationships as a leadership team and a staff have proven themselves over and over again. Through healthy relationships, we don’t have to spend as much time monitoring adherence to values or have detailed performance audits because the people involved trust each other and love what they are doing; they are more willing to adjust to life changes, help where needed, and be patient in implementation. A wise mentor once told me that “when the relationships at the top are healthy, the rest of the organization will be healthy – when they’re not…” I don’t know if I’ve ever been given better advice; and certainly over time we’ve seen both implications of this statement to be true. In order to inspire commitment from people we (I) need to invest time and attention in those relationships.


  1. Fostering the Freedom to Fail is necessary

This is probably been the most difficult road to navigate. So many people, even good people, have been stunted their personal (spiritual) growth that have taken their desire to even try or dream let alone, learn through failure. How do I know, I’ve failed at more things than most people have tried; and I’ve failed at the things that some think are done well. In leadership we should continually challenge others toward creativity and ingenuity that brings to life the shared values of the organization. Through failure today, we can learn the innovations of tomorrow and new leadership is then developed, with their own stories of failure.

“By mastering failure, you create an environment in which risk taking is encouraged and recovery from failure becomes a skill that everyone in the organization possesses….In fact, the best leaders prepare themselves and their organizations for failure, and make sure that there are ways that everyone, including themselves, can learn from these experiences so that they are not wasted.” (Loc. 3309-3345)

Building up relational capital is paramount to be able to foster a culture where people are free to fail. Out of relationships, and learning how to respond to failure will come the stories worth sharing.


  1. Tell stories

As non-profit organizations or ministries our mandate is not to tell our story – although we often feel pressure to do so – rather it is to tell two other stories: the story of God and the story of others. It is anti-marketing at its best, but it is in complete accordance with God’s mandate for us and that as we do, he strengthens, blesses and provides for us.

“In these instances, you will need to tap into the emotional power of stories to make your case, and nothing is more powerful than a compelling customer story. The beauty is that today, customers by the millions are telling their stories—and just waiting for you to join the conversation.” (Loc. 1437)

In considering the use of social media and technology, the challenge is to not become so consumed with communicating information that it stifles the importance of transformation, which best takes place in real time relationships. For example, our program, although it mostly operates through on-line communication, is greatly enhanced through the Face-to-face times we experience. Our real time relationships make the online communication more meaningful. In much the same way, our story telling should create a desire within others to want to enter into deeper, more meaningful relationships with God and others, unafraid to be who we are but secure in knowing whose we are.

(What we are observing and hearing, as a result, is that our story is being shaped and shared by others. God has a way of looking after those details as we focus our attention on Him and those He cares about.)

Instead of being well known, ultimately most people have a desire to be known well. As those who serve in leadership what are the challenges we face in working toward that goal?

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12b

About the Author

Deve Persad

8 responses to “Well Known or Known Well”

  1. Ashley Goad says:

    Deve, as always, your post speaks to my heart. Known well vs. well known. You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. We all crave to be known well, to be understood, to be cared for, to be loved. We were created to be in relationship with Him and with others. I would like to think that through small group connections and discipleship studies, we, as church leaders are facilitating that connection to be known well. But as you have found in your dissertation research…are we really succeeding?

    How happy I was to see “Tell Stories” in your reflections. This is something I have latched on to since our time in South Africa. …In fact, I wrote my entire VE Synthesis paper on telling stories. When we tell our stories, we make connections, and learn and grow by listening to each other. When we tell God’s story, we come to discover our place in His story. There is a that sense of being known well when connections are made through common stories. How do you encourage your members to tell their stories and tell the story of God? And I wonder especially, how do you encourage your members to tell their stories of El Salvador? I love the blog. Is there more? (Always looking to learn from you!!)

    • Deve Persad says:

      Stories are so important Ashley. I would be interested to read your VE paper. As for our experience with stories – certainly the blog has been a large part of it as a first step. The other thing we have done, particularly over the course of the last three years is to encourage people to share the stories of the people they meet on the mission field and to share the stories of how they’ve seen God at work through those people. In this way we are trying to teach people to not focus on what they do. The early returns have been excellent as it leads to a greater focus on what God is doing and the people He is doing it through (in ES or South Africa) and it emphasizes our role as co-learners. I hope that makes sense…

  2. John Woodward says:

    Deve, you provide a wonderful overview of the entire semester in your post. I found those particular themes resonated with me as well. It seems really so elementary when you think that we should 1) focus on relationships, 2) allow opportunity to fail and 3) give space for people to tell their stories. It is interesting that so much of my personal study this semester has been about spiritual formation, where I’ve come to understanding that authentic spiritual growth must have real world application – especially in our relationships and attitudes towards others. That our growth in our faith according to Jesus should lead us to loving others (“if you love, keep my commands” — i.e. love God and love others!). So, if we are to grow in our ability to lead like Jesus, relationships becomes the place where I believe we have opportunity to be the most like Jesus.

    As I work on Visual Ethnography report, while reflecting on our South Africa, I am reliving the many stories of those we met…and I am learning a lot more about what it means to really listen. I am finding indeed that my life is becoming more shaped by these stories that continue to open me up to realities of world that I have not known personally or ever considered. I continue to feel stretched and challenged in so many areas of life through our program. And the joy of sharing stories with our cohort has been a real blessing as well. What has been especially wonderful in our cohort is the realization of how human and real we all are…that one need not feel a fear of failure, as there is a sense of community of seekers and learners, not of those who have it figured out.

    Hopefully, all of this learning and these experiences will translate into my ministry and to the lives of those around me. Have you found many ways to apply all this to your situation? To your church and community? Thanks for your thoughts and insights, Deve.

    • Deve Persad says:

      John, thanks for the feedback. I couldn’t agree more – South Africa gave us so many stories to learn from and to share. Certainly my experience with this program is that is has enhanced the ministry I am involved with – locally and globally. Whether it’s provide insight into the messages I’m preparing or it’s providing resources for the relationships we’re building, the books, cohort writing and the research has all been very practical for me.

  3. Deve,

    As always, great work!

    I too had some concerns with this book. I just could not swallow the concepts hook, line, and sinker. I found myself having lots and lots of questions. But I also agree that some of the concepts were excellent and paralleled some of our other readings for this semester. Your three main points are spot on. I could not agree more.

    One of the responsibilities I have in my job is to train new adjunct instructors as they first come in to teach in our college. Whenever I have an orientation meeting with new faculty, I always share with them what I call “The Three Keys for Successful Teachers.” The first keys is “Connection.” We must connect with our students. If we don’t, how can we be effective in our craft? All we would be doing without connection is making noise about our subjects. But is reality, students are the subjects we should be concerned with.

    The second key is “Failure.” Good teachers must take risks in their classrooms. They must try new, fresh ideas in every class. They must not used only “canned” lesson plans. But sometimes trying something new will result in failure. Failure is not a bad thing; in fact, failure is the one thing that always teaches us something. And that is the whole point of teaching — it is all about learning. And the students are not the only ones who have something to learn.

    The last key is “Collaboration.” Good teachers collaborate with other teachers. They learn from one other. They share ideas, lessons, stories, failures, experiences, and their very lives. I am a better teacher with I don’t try to do it alone. Collaboration requires a sense of humility though, because it takes a humble person to learn from another person.

    My three points are not exactly your three, but they are definitely related. Relationship, failure, stories. You can’t do better than this. Deve, thanks again for another encouraging and instructive post, my friend.

    • Deve Persad says:

      I really like your 3 Keys Professor. Collaboration is such a vital part of organizational success, but as you mention it takes a large measure of humility to be able to listen to each other and then share both success or failure along the way. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Deve…
    Your post reminds me of our need to be intentional in why we do what we do before we do it and to consider those that will be affected as well as effected. That was part of Li’s book, though perhaps more subtly communicated.

    In referencing the limitations of “open” engagement with social technologies does it help at all to approach it from the standpoint of what kind of relationship do I want to create or develop? In that approach do we discover the appropriate limitations or the more appropriately the necessary boundaries of social technologies?

    You’ve got us thinking … once again! Blessings Deve!

    • Deve Persad says:

      Excellent questions Carol. I think it would be very wise to give thought to the nature of the open relationships, particularly across social media. I know it’s something that I struggle with personally – I don’t share a lot of personal information across social media, and yet there are times and platforms when I will. I’ve been more purposeful over the last few months with what is being shared and it’s been interesting to note the feedback that I’m getting as a result. Definitely worth thinking through further.

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