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


Written by: on August 28, 2023

Years ago, my wife and I had a couple of hours to kill between meetings in a large city, so we decided to visit a famous nearby shopping mall.

This mall was massive, and we entered it through a huge store called The Burlington Coat Factory. Then we started to meander down the main central corridor that American malls are known for.

As we walked for what felt like a mile, we passed all the stores and restaurants you can imagine. I was surprised to find everything from boutique retailers (a store with only pens) to big-box stores (like Best Buy), and from fast-food, to fast-casual, to several full-service-sit-down restaurants.

But when we started walking by the SECOND huge Burlington Coat Factory, I was stunned. I turned to my wife and said, “Deborah, this mall is so big that it has two full sized Burlington Coat Factories…we better start walking back to the one we came in through or we’ll never get to our meeting”

She looked at me like I was stupid (I’m not stupid), waited a beat, then burst out laughing. She then informed me that this was the SAME store we’d entered through, and that we had strolled in a long, almost imperceptible circle to get back to it.

I didn’t believe her. I argued that we had walked an extended slightly curved—but linear—path.  Instead of trying to fight with me she wisely dragged me to a kiosk that had a map of the mall, laid out in a long oblong pattern, and she pointed at a little red dot that said:


As soon as I had context to where I was and saw how it related to the rest of the mall, I figured out that I was totally lost, and not for the first (or last) time, grateful for an understanding and wise partner.

I know that’s a very long story to open up this blog post (and semester) but I want to share something that’s been important to me ever since that incident: it’s the power of finding the “YOU ARE HERE” dot.

Whether we’re in a new mall, a new city, a new semester, or a new stage of life, our context can become rather disorienting and so much “new” coming at us all at once can prove to be distracting. In those moments, it’s incredibly helpful to discover where we are in relationship to everything else.

Sometimes that discovery about where we are is emotional. Sometimes it’s spiritual. Sometimes it’s historical. And, as I often find myself wandering around cities I’ve never been in, sometimes it’s geographical.

In any case, to know where we are starting provides considerable help in determining how we can get to where we’re trying to go.

Even in—maybe especially in—the task of leadership.

As Max Dupree, the CEO of Herman Miller, famously said in his book, Leadership is an Art, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”[1] Or, to put it a different way, one of a leader’s primary tasks is to help everyone on the team know where the red “YOU ARE HERE” dot is in the context of where that team is attempting to go.

As we prepare to “conquer” Oxford in a few weeks, Paul Sullivan’s The Secret History of Oxford[2] has been useful to me as it’s helped me know a little bit (but thankfully not too much) about the History of the city and the University, some of the key facts about each college in the University, and about some of the important people, places, and unique things to be looking for in Oxford.

A few examples: I’m perhaps most anticipating about anything having to do with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (131) and I can’t wait to have a pint at The Eagle and the Child (131) The Lamb and Flag, where The Inklings frequently gathered. I want to stop by Lincoln College as I find it fascinating that the King James Bible was translated there, John Wesley formulated Methodism there, and Ted Geisel (Dr. Suess) was educated there (67). And I won’t leave without a selfie in front of Radcliffe Camera (144).

This book has helped me to know how to locate the YOU ARE HERE dot when I get there.

I’m taking notes and drawing my own mental map, based on what I read in the book and what I’m finding online. Of course, much of the joy of a new place (and even familiar places) is discovering what you didn’t even know was there. At the very least I won’t find myself in a totally strange city but I can hit the ground with a general sense of where I am, and where I’d like to start on my adventure.


[1] Max Dupree (1989). Leadership is an Art, Doubleday, page 11.

[2] Paul Sullivan (2013) The Secret History of Oxford. The History Press.


About the Author


Tim Clark

I'm on a lifelong journey of discovering the person God has created me to be and aligning that with the purpose God has created me for. I've been pressing hard after Jesus for 40 years, and I currently serve Him as the lead pastor of vision and voice at The Church On The Way in Los Angeles. I live with my wife and 3 kids in Burbank California.

14 responses to “YOU ARE HERE”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Tim,

    Oddly, this summer I am looking for my “You are here dot.”

    I decided to forgo teaching this semester so that I can focus on getting my NPO project (Interlinkt) translated into various languages.

    Still, I watched as two of my teams did summer camps for Ukrainian Refugee children. I learned a new acronym – FOMO – Fear of missing out. I have always have had enough of the piece of action so that I knew where my Your are Here dot was.

    Now I feel that I am being pruned and pray that my focus this semester on NPO things will provide that sense of purpose I feel missing.

    Oxford will be nice for me to reconnect with the amazing work that our cohort folk are doing. I look forward to riding the academic tide with old and new “beer peers.”


  2. Travis Vaughn says:

    The older I get, the more I find myself desperately looking for the “You are Here” dot on whatever map is in front of me. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe it means I am more concerned about getting lost than I once was. But I digress…

    I, too, am anticipating learning more about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and maybe separating the lore from reality, though I think I’m totally cool with a bit of mystery in some ways. And I do hope The Eagle and Child has re-opened by the time we arrive. In addition to the other names you mentioned, I hope to learn more the Oxford experiences of Dorothy Sayers, N.T. Wright, and even Einstein who studied there for a brief period of time.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Right? As we get older I think we have to draw new maps. As Jason says, the bigger the island of our knowledge is, the longer the shore of our ignorance grows. So as we learn more, we also learn that we don’t know so much and have to keep repositioning our “you are here” dot.

  3. mm Cathy Glei says:

    I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with our cohort and peer group. I am looking forward to sitting in Christ Church (I imagine the scene from Harry Potter of the students eating in the dining hall) and taking a selfie for my daughter and son-in-law. I am interested in finding the blue plaques at several of the historical places (like J.R.R. Tolkien’s residence and C.S. Lewis’ Nature Reserve). As I sit in our public library reading our cohorts posts (yes, the internet is still out in my neck of the woods), I also imagine the libraries filled with books. Looking forward to sharing this experience with all of our DLGP colleagues!

  4. mm Kim Sanford says:

    Great reflections and great analogy. We definitely need a YOU ARE HERE dot even for our own mental maps. (I also loved the Hamilton reference, by the way.)

    My question is how do you, or how would you coach others, to find their YOU ARE HERE dot? Of course, there are the big, important principles like our identity in Christ, but I think you’re talking about a more specific, individualized orientation. What is the role of Christian community in identifying your “dot”?

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Kim, I am SO GLAD someone caught my Hamilton reference. That made my day.

      Your question is so important: How DO we help others find there you are here dot?

      One thing I have done is taken people through an exercise that creates a sort of ‘road map’ of their life that I forged from a combination of a process I went through in church planting, and books by Bobby Clinton (Making of a Leader) and Reggie McNeal (A Work of Heart).

      We identify sovereign foundations (family & place of origin, etc.), create a timeline of early/later life experiences, review personality traits and passion, unpack ministry call & development, and address other factors (including christian community) that help create context for discovering the ‘you are here’ dot. I’ve found this process helpful in my life and useful for others.

  5. Adam Harris says:

    “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Or, to put it a different way, one of a leader’s primary tasks is to help everyone on the team know where the red “YOU ARE HERE” dot is in the context of where that team is attempting to go.

    Love this quote and summary. It’s a good reminder to be self aware and realistic about where a person, team, or organization really is, verses where we think we are sometimes. I’ve been meeting with a coach once a month and he had me do a “sevenwordsaboutme” survey.

    It was uncomfortable but it allowed several people in my life to anonymously tell me how THEY perceive me not how I perceive myself. It was a good way to find out “I am here” lol. Thanks for sharing this man, and looking forward to hanging at Oxford.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      That coaching tool sounds fascinating. It’s a great thing to get honest feedback like that about where others think you are (so as not to deceive yourself), but it’s difficult to get that kind of feedback without some tool.

      I want to be more self aware (to know the ‘you are here’ dot), but wonder if sometimes I’m not as open to the feedback (like my wife’s correction) as I should be. A tool like you describe could be really useful.

      See you in a couple of weeks.

  6. mm John Fehlen says:

    I’m with Travis, in saying, that the older I get (just turned 52 a few days ago), the more I’m looking for the “You are Here” dot.

    With each revolution around the sun, it seems to get easier to succumb to “mission drift.”

    Tim, you and I both are familiar with the great illustration of the Russian Rabbi. It’s a classic go-to story, of which, I am “going to” this Sunday in my teaching. The Russian Rabbi wanders into an off-limits military compound and is stopped by a guard screaming two questions: Who are you and what are you doing here? The Rabbi offered to pay a guard if he would ask him those two questions every day. Who are you? What are you doing here?

    Thankfully, you and I have at various times in our lives and ministries, been those “guards” who have (by God’s grace) asked one another those valuable questions.

    Grateful for you Tim.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      “Who are you and what are you doing here”. I’ll plan to greet you at Heathrow with those words. 🙂

      Those questions are a great start, but the older I get the more I realize my answers need to go deeper. Not just self perception, but who am I to others, and to God? My ‘you are here’ dot is contextualized and overlayed by more and more maps as I grow older, thus the greater need to have a strong sense of “who” I am even over “where” I am.

  7. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Tim, I love your post and the importance of “you are here” orientation. It made me think of how our wise leaders have done this exact thing when giving us our project portfolio map. At the top of each map section it shows us where we are in the whole program. I personally have survived this program by focusing on what is right in front of me otherwise the giant map is intimidating and seemingly impossible. Now having gone through the first year, I recognize how this is really possible and how fast it goes! I think I needed your “I am here” blog to help me get to the bigger picture….I think if I continue to only do what is in front of me, I will miss the bigger journey of this doctorate program! I also am grateful for your input on “I am here” because of the experience I had in Cape Town. Our mentor did a fabulous job setting up the day, but you and John and all the work and passion you brought to deepen the experience was a huge gift!! Looking forward to “being here” with you and our group in a sacred place like Oxford!

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Jana, thanks for your encouraging words.

      I have the opposite problem, I tend to see the bigger picture but miss or forget to look at what’s right in front of me. I’m trying to correct that this semester.

      I CAN’T WAIT for our peer group day in Oxford. Both for the city and the people I get to experience it with.

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