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

Who’s Showing Up Today?

Written by: on February 22, 2024

For a little over a year, I’ve been meeting with a leadership coach, thanks to our assignments and reading Mining for Gold.[i] The person I currently meet with is retired from running several companies and spends much of his time coaching others and speaking at leadership conferences, which is where I met him. He is also heavily involved in his church in Kansas City.

Besides his joyful demeanour, which I’ll get to later, one thing I’ve noticed about my coach over the last year is his ability to read people. He is incredibly intuitive. Unfortunately, this gift was birthed from years of pain and instability in his childhood. One day I mentioned his knack for noticing social cues and he explained that he grew up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive Father. Every day when his dad got home he would begin scanning body language to gauge which Dad was showing up that day. Was it angry dad, stressed dad, relaxed dad, or happy dad?  The Dad who showed up from work determined the climate of the house, and alcohol only intensified his mood.

My coach’s childhood trauma is truly a case of what Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”, because he uses this developed sensitivity to meet the needs of those he leads. However, this scenario also illustrates the climate a leader creates when their mood, attitude, or behaviour is inconsistent or unpredictable. Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder’s insights on leading well, by prioritizing relationships, even when we are stressed, hurt, moody, angry, feel shame, or sad is extremely practical and convicting. They call this Rare Leadership. This acrostic (with some of my own takeaways) means:

R-Remain Relational (In contrast to prioritizing tasks or solving problems)

A-Always Be Yourself (the best version of yourself)

R-Return to Joy (feel your emotions, but maintain habits that quickly move you back to joy)

E-Endure Hardship Well (we become reliable leaders when we practice the first three)[ii]

One of the reasons AI is so enticing and useful is its level of reliability, which is increasing all the time. It problem-solves, calculates, and spits out data. Even better, AI doesn’t get offended, it doesn’t feel despair, and never holds a grudge…at least I don’t think it does. However, we humans sure can. This is part of our “junk code” that Eve Poole discusses in her book Robot Souls. Our “messy emotions” and propensity for mistakes contribute to our “humanness”.[iii]

I would love to think I am always steady, grounded, and consistent in my temperament and mood, but I know better. I don’t always show up as my “best self” to those I lead and influence. This book encouraged me to evaluate what I do when I feel hurt, angry, sad, fed up, ashamed, insecure, or overwhelmed. Rather than quickly return to joy, I can get quiet and may withdraw, and then my joy and playfulness quickly dwindle. I notice the impact this has on our staff and my family. When I bring the energy it is contagious, the opposite is true as well. Sometimes this means faking it and pulling from a wellspring that’s empty, which drains me even more. This is usually due to a lack of the three things Warner and Wilder mention in their books.

  • Intimacy with God
  • Identity Groups
  • Imitating Mature People

I am realizing more and more how crucial each one of these is, and I experienced the first one listed above over Christmas break. I was feeling down, overwhelmed, and under pressure in some areas of leadership. I could not shake it, I felt heaviness as soon as I woke up in the morning for several days. It was hard to bring my best self forward. Although I had been praying, I finally came to God in the quiet of the morning with desperation and said, “What is happening here? I can’t lead well feeling like this.” Then that gentle whisper came that Marcus Warner mentioned in the section concerning “spiritual receptivity”.[iv] I was quickly shown that I was trying to problem-solve from a place of fear and anxiety. I was also trying to figure out major issues on my own without help from God in this scenario. I was putting a load on my shoulders that was not mine to carry. This “whisper” changed everything in me. It was a “shift in consciousness” that Annabel Beerel mentions in Rethinking Leadership.[v] My joy, energy, and playfulness returned immediately that morning and it lasted. I was back at it, and it was genuine. I was able to show up again.

Besides my coach’s ability to read people, I admire his humor, relaxed demeanor, and joy. Due to the timing of these books on “Rare Leadership”, I was able to share some of its ideas and talk through some things that stuck out to me. He is very big on consistency and showing up with joy at work which falls in line with much of this week’s material.[vi] I asked him today, “Do you think you show up like you do because of your personality, or do you do things intentionally to show up the way you do?” He said some days, especially when he was running bigger organizations, he had to purposefully reframe his mind by either walking outside by himself or taking a few minutes in his office alone before engaging with folks. Although our readings mention other important habits for leaders to create healthier cultures, I appreciated the emphasis that our “quiet time” really does influence who will show up today.[vii]

[i] Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching. First published. Nottingham: IVP, 2019.

[ii] Warner, Marcus, and E. James Wilder. Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016, 19.

[iii] Poole, Eve. Robot Souls: Programming in Humanity. First edition. Boca Raton London New York: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2024, 74.

[iv] Warner, Rare Leadership, 113.

[v] Beerel, Annabel C. Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories. New York: Routledge, 2021, 379.

[vi] “Rare Leadership in the Workplace 3 Min Overview.” YouTube, September 28, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPTWTWPvAsQ.

[vii] Warner, Rare Leadership, 114.

About the Author

Adam Harris

I am currently the Associate Pastor at a church called Godwhy in Hendersonville, TN near Nashville. We love questions and love people even more. Our faith community embraces God and education wholeheartedly. I graduated from Oral Roberts University for undergrad and Vanderbilt for my masters. I teach historical critical Biblical studies at my church to help our community through their questions and ultimately deepen their faith. I love research, writing, learning, and teaching. I oversee our staff and leadership development. Before being at Godwhy I worked as a regional sales coach and director for Anytime Fitness. I've been married for over 13 years to my best friend and we have two amazing boys that keep us busy.

11 responses to “Who’s Showing Up Today?”

  1. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Adam, such a thoughtful post and thank you for sharing how you are processing Rare leadership. You mentioned a few things that I have been mulling over in my heart as well. You said, “I was quickly shown that I was trying to problem-solve from a place of fear and anxiety.” As much as I value relationships and connection, I notice that when I’m anxious and fearful that I move away from relationship and into problem-solving. The problem isn’t solved and I then withdraw. I end up feeling rather stuck, but want to restore connection. I’m noticing how returning to joy more quickly will get me back to relationship. This isn’t a new awareness for me by any means. The aha moment was the realization that I am not very intentional about addressing the fear. I just go on repeat in certain situations (thankfully not all) hoping miraculously for a different result. And you are 1000% correct when you note coming to God in quiet, and by that I mean in silence and solitude, just resting, listening, and waiting really changes how I show up relationally with others. You have also given me another question to consider, “Do you think you show up like you do because of your personality, or do you do things intentionally to show up the way you do?” Can you help me understand the difference? Loved your post!

    • Adam Harris says:

      Thanks for the response and question! When it comes to your question, I think it is easy for us to attribute people’s joy, attitude, or health to it “just being their nature”, instead of acknowledging that they do some very intentional things to show up in the world differently, especially when stressed.

      Some people do seem to have more of a happy go lucky nature, but it makes me wonder with others who have had such trauma in their past (like my coach) what they do to nurture health. My coach does show up a certain way, so I was wondering if he had identity groups and what kind of spiritual practices did he do regurlary. I hope that clarifies!

  2. Esther Edwards says:

    Thanks for the reminder to assess what motivates us in difficult seasons. Fear and anxiety can be quite a taskmaster. I am quite overwhelmed this semester so I appreciate your reminder to take the time to reposition and reframe through time with the Lord. It does make all the difference in how we show up.

  3. Jennifer Vernam says:

    I really like how you pulled the concept of “junk code” into this conversation. That was a nice connection that I had not quite made. When I think of junk code, it makes me think of what I recall Poole pointing out as the beauty of being flawed- how it makes us unique. I also recall someone (maybe in Spellbound?) that talked about the treasure trove of insight to be gained when we stop to unpack what is underneath our messy emotions. You referencing junk code caused me to see a crosswalk between finding ways to be disciplined in managing our emotions and understanding what is behind them.

    • Adam Harris says:

      Thanks Jennifer, it certainly is a balance, one of my only critiques of this book might be that it could tempt people to just push down those pesky emotions or try to get rid of them instead of doing some inner work, which I started doing more of after reading Annabel Beerel’s book. She mentioned shadow work as vertical learning and it inspired me. I got a journal and it has been very insightful and kind of uncomfortable. Thanks for bringing that out!

  4. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Adam,
    I wonder if my children wonder “who is going to show up.” I pray that my consistent presence counts for something.

    Yesterday I nailed two out of three relational bridges with my family. The third lies in smoking ruins. Sigh…Tomorrow is another day!

    Thanks for bringing in our other authors. Sometimes, they are blurring together for me and it is good when the ‘smart kids’
    in the cohort remind us of the connection points.


    • Adam Harris says:

      I wonder that myself man, but the fact that you care means you must be on the right track. Two out of three aint bad! Like you said, always tomorrow, his mercies are new every morning.

  5. Hey brother Adam, I also found my Life Coach to be invaluable and I’m so grateful for him. Yeah man, one gift a person receives from trauma/deep pain is perceptiveness or that ability to read people within seconds. Based upon your insightful post, I have an easy question for you?
    “Do you think you show up like you do because of your personality, or do you do things intentionally to show up the way you do?”

    • Adam Harris says:

      Ha, I don’t know if that is an easy question Todd! lol But, that is the question, is it nature or nurture! I will say I notice a major difference in “how I show up” when I am do certain things: alone time, exercise, spend time with positive and uplifting people (you easily fall into that category), reading things that reframe my mind, and like I said in the post, prayer. But to unpack it more, the kind of prayer that leads to a warm heart, peace, or a soft whisper with something I need to hear.

  6. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Being in touch in the present moment to how we are and how we are showing up in the world is so important. How do you find yourself responding in the quiet space, with intimacy with God? How honest are you able to be with God, and as you and I talked about, worked through some of your shadow side? How is joyfulness different on the other side of the shadow for you?

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