Simon Walker, the author of The Undefended Leader, challenges the readers to look up to the summit of the mountain where few extraordinary ‘undefended leaders’ can be found. He presents the idea of reaching our true potential to be an undefended leader – “These are the ones whose life and philosophy have involved deliberate acts of weakness and courageous self-sacrifices…who are associated with the greatest revolutions.” He opens his discussions of undefended leadership by using an illustration of stage performing presentation. He explained that every leader goes back and forth between the pressures of performing front stage and dealing with the private life backstage. Then, the three-part book takes the readers to examine how leaders defend themselves, locating the roots of the defended self of leadership, and discusses perspectives in building a more vital undefended leadership.
Being on the spot to lead the followers involves a lot of pressure and stress because it involves navigating through unknown futures and resolving the most difficult challenges within the organization. In the past five years, I was heartbroken every time I heard about renowned pastors’ many moral and character failures. They were all significant and extraordinary leaders who have shaped and influenced evangelical Christian communities in our generation. This kind of failure and downfall demonstrates the truth that who you are inside will eventually be revealed over the years. Leading on the front stage requires a lot of energy and relational complexities that drain a leader’s life energy. Usually, backstage, if a leader is not careful and mindful, the habits, recharging, and refueling mechanisms may not bring an authentic, sanctifying, and holistic renewal to bring the fullness of the Holy Spirit in a leader. I experienced this kind of unhealthy rhythm of life in the first stage of my ministry phase. After graduating from college, I walked into a very high pace and fast ministry setting with college students. And after seven years of pacing back and forth between front and backstage, I was completely burned out. I didn’t know how to recharge and renew and after seven years of ministry, it left my mindset and my heart in a dark and depressing place where I was disconnecting from God and people and didn’t want to involve God in the future plans in my life. And in that first phase of ministry, so many life layers were added into my life – marriage and children and loss of clear vision for tomorrow. I decided to leave the ministry and take an academic sabbatical. And I thought to myself, if things don’t get better, I will walk away from full-time calling into ministry. I felt that I had served enough~
But by the grace of God, I was restored through the formative and restoring years in seminary. There were two significant lessons that God taught me during those restoring times. I had to learn to grow up and mature by introspecting my past and wrestle with resolving roots to internal issues. Also, another lesson was learning to distinguish between the expectations of a general audience and one audience. I discovered that I have to be discerning and wise about being driven by people’s expectations in ministry. It’s easier to try to live like a superman, where you try to go and fix the felt need as fast as you can. People will be happy and cheer you on, but in the long run, the expectations and influences from others can impact you in a very negative and exhaustive way. I had to learn to sit down, think things through, tackle things a lot slower, and ultimately ask myself, is this glorifying my one true audience – my Lord Jesus Christ. Walker described this kind of a refined leader as a “person who is secure against the loss of all things can be truly undefended, truly free.” The very essence of success before one audience of God is to practice brokenness before God and always asking for guidance and wisdom. The temptation to project leadership who never fails will ultimately set up the failure we try to avoid in our lives. The power of the truly undefended and free leadership is drawn from experiencing the Messiah who exhibited as the wounded healer. “They are called to the wounded healer, the ones who must not only look after their wounds, but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.”
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership. (UK: Piquant Editions, 2013), 4.
 Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are, 103.
 Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. 1st edition. (New York, NY: Image, 1979), 88.