A leader who has surrendered their dependence to God is one who is released (untethered), lives undefended and free. Affliction can change and break this enlightened orientation. God, help those who love You and have set their hearts on You.
Of this kind of leadership, that is one that has ‘let-go’ and fallen for higher leading, one that is entrusted into the arms of the Creator, set apart from common systems of this ‘place of time’, Simon Walker offers that it ‘subverts expectations of power and self-sufficiency in favour of a life of vulnerability and dependence.’1Vulnerability is risky anywhere, it takes a chance, for the possibility of an opening, for the potential of pain. Being undefended is a call to a way of life, integrity in leadership, all mediums for acting aside (ie. frontstage and backstage). Pretense is not sustainable.
Leonard Cohen has written that ‘there is crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’2 Pain and suffering create a thin place, perhaps even a crack, where the light can get in. There is an awakening in this story of weakness, powerlessness. The pain is not pleasant, yet it gives way to a new thing. Every rejection, stronger. Remember Joseph, in the presence of his brothers bowing, ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’3 That’s how the light gets in.
Brokenness is a painful state to be in. There is a resolve, in undefended leaders, to be able to withstand strong opposing force. Unfortunately, it is the passionate commitment of the undefended leader, demonstrating an immoveable stance, non-violent resistance, which may be an attractant for persecution by threatened opposing forces.
Undefended leaders, following truth, have grit. Walker refers to the courageous leadership of Jesus as RWX (backstage, weak and expanding) and regards him as a Self-Emptying leader ‘fully engaged, fully present.’4The love of God breaks through into creation, presenting hope for the oppressed and salvation for the world, through the crack of the cross. This story ‘speaks to the deepest needs of the human heart’6 as Walker determines, ‘triumph in the face of disaster, of strength in the face of weakness and of gain in the face of loss.’6
There’s something else that speaks to us through the narrative of crucifixion and resurrection. This is love. With regards to Jesus, his followers and those undefended leaders built likewise, love is the definitive explanation. Love every step of the way, through every emotion (intelligently displayed or not), with every person and issue honestly faced, in every lived example of Walker’s leaders. Love.
Love inspires honest leadership. Hierarchical arrangements don’t do this, really. The emphasis here, is toward the unmechanised, deeper than accountable, beyond integral inspiration of love breathed honesty in leadership; one that is Original. Love stripped young Giovanni (St. Francis) bare of attachments before his father. Love was in the pain I was bullied by in my youth. Love was a light through the cracks of these, weakening me into a ‘more’ untouchable powerlessness. Love is a bullet that seeks to silence truth. Love is in the scourging and the nails. Love searches into the darkest, unknown places for the shock of light breaking through. Love inspires honest leadership.
I am curious about love and the place love holds in the life of the undefended leader. Unique not to the undefended leader is the experience of love through being broken to pieces. There is a thin space that the honest leader abides in, it can be a painful state of perpetual vulnerability and willingness to be broken. The undefended leader is willing to endure pain for love, that by such an offering, a light might shine through.
Weakness, like pain, is not attractive. ‘But, God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’7 We have faced rejection and marginalisation by stronger things, I live thinly to this and alongside such dejected ones. I feel far ‘less than’ than those who walk in a flare of ‘greater than’. Sometimes, we can feel like we have been left so alone. The community I walk with are ones who have been made to know of vulnerability and dependence deeply. I am led by them; and, with my siblings of shame, even Jesus and Job, our undignified anthem of love rises through the cracks, ‘though you slay me I will trust you Lord.’8
- Walker, Simon P, Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Exercise of Power (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 2), Piquant Editions, Kindle Edition, Chapter 16.
- Leonard Cohen, “Leonard Cohen – Anthem (w/lyrics) London 2008,” May 22, 2015, music video, 9:33. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wRYjtvIYK0.
- Genesis 50:20, NIV.
- Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Ch 13.
- Luke 22:42, NIV.
- Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose, Ch13.
- 1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV.
- Job 13:5, KJV.