Dare to Lead was my introduction to Brene Brown, and I was excited to dive in having heard great things about her work. I was not disappointed. Brown, a research professor from the University of Houston, challenged me with a new glossary of terms, offering that leaders must be brave enough to be vulnerable as they lead people and teams. From her introduction, she invites her readers into the heart of leadership by embracing the “rumble”:
A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and, as psychologist Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.
Throughout the book, she gives excellent examples of what the best rumbles look like. However, there was a pattern in each example: leaders take off their armor. As I read each chapter, I rejoiced when I came across areas where I have seen small victories yet lamented at how thick my armor remains in other areas. Brene’s path forward to wholeheartedness through vulnerability can be a scary one. She defines it as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure…it’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome. ” Her research is transformative, and it reminds me that imperfect leaders are impactful leaders. Courage to ask questions rather than issue edicts, to get in the middle of chaotic problem-solving with others, to admit fear and failure…this is characteristic of daring leadership.
Even though Brown’s audience is not necessarily Christian, her words could also describe the Spirit-empowered life of faith in Jesus. As ministry leaders, we spend our lives inviting others, just as Jesus did, to leave what they have known, and embrace a new, right-side up life where much is uncertain, but everything is promised. It reminds me of my son’s favorite portion of CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Mr. Beaver responds to Lucy’s question regarding Aslan, the lion:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The Christian life is one of incredible vulnerability with God and others. Therefore, shouldn’t Christian leaders be willing to go first when it comes to rumbling with vulnerability, knowing their identity is secure? It seems Brene has a lot to offer us if we are willing to assume a new posture (sans defensive armor), learn a new language that is free from cynicism and sarcasm, and practice gratitude and generosity.
 Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Bold Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts, 2018, 10.
 Ibid, 19.
 C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia / C. S. Lewis (New York: HaperTrophy, 1980).