DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Using The European Culture as an Allegory

Written by: on October 12, 2016

Color illustration, from an issue of French magazine 'Le Rire,' depicts Italian actress Eleonora Duse (1858 - 1924) as flower bouquets are tossed around her, 1910. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)

 Friedman aims to show that

“Any renaissance, anywhere, whether in a marriage or a business, depends primarily not only on new data and techniques, but on the capacity of leaders to separate themselves from the surrounding emotional climate so that they can break through the barriers that are keeping everyone from “going the other way.” (2007, 33)


In this paper, I review and reflect on Edwin Friedman’s Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. Writing for anyone who must lead within anxiety-driven, reactive cultures, Friedman is of the opinion that few leaders in America have the nerve to lead. This “disappointment of nerve” has become who we are at each level—a group of very responsive individuals without the determination to oppose the passionate pulls that emerge between individuals in associations, government, and families. This reality twists us toward self-pulverization. America has both reasonable and outrageous vulnerabilities that strengthen each other (McDonald, 2015).


The author frets about the emergency of leadership in America’s progress, which he describes as a “disappointment of nerve.” This emergency of authority is found all through American human advancement, in national, state, and local governmental issues, in the legislative framework, in schools, in organizations, and in families, which get especially close consideration. According to Friedman, “There exists throughout America today a rampant sabotaging of leaders who try to stand tall amid the raging anxiety-storms of our time” (Friedman, 2007, 2).

The Chapters

The first part of the book focuses on the denial of emotional systems at work in leaders’ contexts, eroding individuation in leadership and perverting our very understanding of leadership. In chapter one, a metaphor demonstrates how the obsolete maps of Old World Europe stalled human progress in the region. A renaissance was required then and now to roll out the kind of important improvements and to introduce another world because, “Imagination and indeed even curiosity are at root emotional, not cognitive, phenomena” (Friedman, 2007, 31). Chapter two says that present-day America is as stuck as old Europe was, in spite of innovative and mechanical advances, in its condition of enthusiastic reactivity and tension. The five parts of ceaseless nervousness are reactivity, crowding, accusing, brisk-fix attitudes, and absence of administration. Chapters three to five depict the constraining “equators” symptomatic of social relapse: 1) favoring information over conclusiveness, 2) trusting the fiction that learning makes clarity, 3) a move toward compassion over obligation (concentrating on shortcomings as opposed to quality), and 4) a disarray of selfishness and childishness.

The last chapters, six through eight offer some solutions and action plans. Chapter six starts by indicating how pioneers need to chip away at societal norms, thus creating self-separation. Chapter seven investigates the essential unit of enthusiastic relationality—the triangle—and how understanding emotional triangles can help with self-separation. Emergencies are a noteworthy part of chapter eight, which describes the emergencies that are not of the pioneer’s own making through the force of presence. Based on this summary, I focus my reflection on the “social science construction of reality.”



Friedman sees the applied issue established in the “social science construction of reality” (2007, 6), which concentrates on names portraying character in a specific social gathering or identity sort, as opposed to their place in the emotional framework in which they are encompassed. The emotion issue is an excessively solid connection, making it impossible for others to understand how they can be propelled, changed, and pacified, and stifling consideration of how one can change one’s self within an enthusiastic framework and let that framework adjust to that change.

Where emphasis is placed on the “social science construction of reality” (Friedman, 2007, 6) in their comprehension of such issues, concentrating on identities and psychological research projects, or on people’s sociological and anthropological “specialties” (sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, wage, class, and so on; Daft, 2014), Friedman sees this methodology as having a tendency to add to the issues, instead of resolve them. For Friedman, the pivotal issues are things that all gatherings and their individuals offer in like manner—specifically, the pressure between the “strengths for self and harmony.” Friedman is of the opinion that “leadership in America is stuck in the rut of trying harder and harder without obtaining significantly new results” (Friedman, 2007, 3).

Friedman’s bits of insight into initiative are more direly required than any other time in recent memory. He helps us understand that all associations have identities, similar to families, and we must apply our knowledge of family treatment to chapels and synagogues, ministers and rabbis, government officials and instructors. Failure of Nerve is key perusing for all pioneers, be they guardians or presidents, corporate officers or instructors, religious bosses or mentors, healers or commanders, administrators or church deacons.

Friedman’s bits of knowledge about our relapsed, “safety belt society,” arranged toward security instead of enterprise, clarify the challenges pioneers continually confront today. Suspicious of the “snappy fixes” and moment arrangements that drive us through our way of life just to offer a route to the following craze, he advocates for quality and self-separation as the signs of genuine initiative. His equation for achievement is more development, not more information; stamina, not strategy; and moral obligation, not compassion.

Personal Note

Friedman’s revelations about leadership and the culture’s failure of nerve developed slowly throughout a 40-year career with experience in congregations, businesses, and government. Although different types of organizations use different languages, the culture of reaction and anxiety and leadership’s failure of nerve seem to be universal. Furthermore, many “solutions” are just problems in remission, usually resurfacing later, because they were never adequately dealt with initially. Another aspect of Friedman’s growing enlightenment to the failure of nerve was social science’s total inability to aid in the prediction of the success of people, institutions, and relationships—particularly psychology.

The leaders tendency  in anxious times is  to adapt to immaturity, showing “a failure of nerve.” Friedman contrasts this with the quantum leap that occurred around the year 1500.That being said,  there is an important aspect of Christian ministry, especially when approached from the transitional and empowering perspectives,  emphasizes the role of church leaders as agents of change.  Are the church leaders showing a failure of Nerve?


Daft, R. L. 2014. The Leadership Experience. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Friedman, Edwin, H. 2007. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York: Seabury Books

McDonald, J. 2015. Urban America: Growth, Crisis, and Rebirth. Armonk, NY: Routledge.



About the Author


Rose Anding

Rose Maria “Simmons McCarthy” Anding, a Visionary, Teacher,Evangelist, Biblical Counselor/ Chaplain and Author, of High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder. She is a widower, mother, stepmother, grandmother, great grandmother of Denver James, the greater joy of her life. She has lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, and North Carolina, and is now back on the forgiving soil of Mississippi.

8 responses to “Using The European Culture as an Allegory”

  1. Rose,

    Thanks for your insight! How do you think we can fight against the loss of “nerve?” Do you think leaders within the church has lost nerve because of the hassle that “truly leading” is? How often have you seen leaders “skirt” the issue instead of addressing it head on? That is a huge frustration for me at times…. And last how do we regain our nerve? How do we get enough confidence to really truly lead? Again thanks for your words and thoughts.


    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Kevin for your words of inspirations and the questions that hangs on them.

      The night that I gave my life to Christ, a minister whisper two things in my ear for me alone to hear. The first thing, “Don’t ever forget where God has brought you from and through, and the second thing was, “Pray for courage”. I have never forgotten those two things. I was unaware of the impact until much later. Today I understand that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. Courage is something that everybody wants — an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect.

      When we look at the”lack of nerve”, that is exhibited among the leadership, it is frighten, because it says and really means, leaders fear doing something. The question is “why”? It is the lack of courage. The one thing that helps me is my passion to do the things that God has required of me. It was Jesus passion that caused him to endure the cross We must all come to the place at time, when we are willing to say “nevertheless” not our will but God’s will.
      “Passion is what drives us crazy, what makes us do extraordinary things, to discover, to challenge ourselves. Passion is and should always be the heart of courage.” ― Midori Komatsu

      God has given us assignments and he knows that when we see the faces and actions of people we would lose our nerve to carry it out, that why God told Ezekiel and Jeremiah not to look at the people’s face.“And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house”. Ezekiel 2:6 KJV And “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:8 KJV
      My suggestion to all leaders, go boldly to throne of God and pray daily for courage. Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  2. Hi Rose. Thanks for this. I appreciate your reflection on how we need to not have a failure of nerve. I am taken that Friedman’s book is an evolution of 40 years. This is a long time! Where do you think church leaders can improve with the failure of nerve in terms of time? As the title suggests, we live in a time of quick fixes. As leaders we want all things to be fixed asap. Where does good leadership fit into quick fixes?

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Aaron P,
      Just thinking about the question , “Quick Fixes” Where does good leadership fit into quick fixes? In line with this question, many major corporations’ shareholders look for leaders who can “produce magic” or “move mountains” and are willing to offer tremendously attractive pay and benefit packages to entice these persons who they believe fit the bill.

      Think about it for just a moment. Beyond the reality we train dogs; we develop people, what prompts most training programs? Answer is the quick fix. Leadership has failed to align and anticipate current trends and future realities.

      What confronts us as leaders, therefore, is a paradox. The relentless pursuit of a quick win is what ultimately prevents new leaders from benefiting from it, but to answer your question, “where does good leadership fit into quick fixes?” According to Harvard Business Review, Mark E Van Buren and Todd Saffertone give us the answer, not just quick fixes but a,” Collective Quick Wins”,whick are achieved with teams, not in spite of them, but they aren’t just team-building exercises. Like other quick wins, they add measurably and meaningfully to the success of the business.
      It best answered in our collective approach, “The best transitioning leaders approach the management of collective quick wins through the lens of leadership, not simply project management. Certainly, they know how to keep a project on track, but they also recognize that the lasting value of their accomplishment will be the way they manage their teams. As pastors and ministry leaders we must work in unity to accomplish the task of the Kingdom, and allow God to do the “Quick Fixes”
      Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  3. Aaron Cole says:


    Great blog and insight! I am curious is you agree with Friedman’s observation that we in America are in a “rut” and need leadership with “nerve” to lead us out? Also, do you think that Church leadership have lost their “nerve”?


    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Aaron C,
      It’s always nice to share with you. I was somewhat surprise by your question, “How do we regain our nerve? Yes it may be argued that the Church has lost its nerve in relation to proclaiming the Gospel; but I don’t think the church has lost its “Nerve.” In a situation of changing paradigms, there is always a period of confusion as former ideas and practices are critiqued and replaced by newer models of thinking and action. This should not be confused with a lack of nerve.

      On the other hand, there maybe area within the church where leaders, exhibit a “lack of Nerve issue”,because when leaders Struggle for justice, human rights, ecological sustainability and reconciliation among peoples involved in these activities, it becomes a servant after the model of Christ who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). Moreover, it requires Christian’s leaders in all cultures, contexts and situations to take responsibility for the Church’s mission. It also challenges the Christian churches to overturn past rivalries and work together in common witness to the Gospel. In short, the Church’s be both visionary and courageous at the level of its theology.

      The real question is do leaders have the nerve to carryout the assignment?
      Thanks for sharing! Rose Maria

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:


    Great post. To be an “agent of change” how do pastors be decisive and direct without being perceived as overbearing and dictatorial?

    When a leader does have the “nerve” and does not possess the failure to act, they can be labeled as overly aggressive. What is the balance point?


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