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

“Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed”

Written by: on February 8, 2019

Ahhh, the dark side of transformational leadership!  What a nice, light topic for this week.  It reminds me of the Darth Vader of leadership!  Such a bright subject to tackle but also a necessary subject as well.

Transformational leadership is a leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow.  The problem is that charismatic leaders can create millions of followers and yet have all the wrong intentions.  Our political environment right now is in turmoil because of some of the wrong charismatic leaders being in some of the wrong places.  I won’t tackle the President and what I see as his failures, as I know there are those that trust in him and follow him.  But I also know that power in the wrong hands can be dangerous.

I live in a family of transformational leaders.  My dad was the mayor of our small town, my husband was a State Senator, and I myself served as head of many organizations and non-profit organizations.  But I saw so much corruption within the political world.  Leaders were leading people into many negative directions because they possessed a charisma that people listen to and followed.  As Tourish pointed out in his book, charisma can be a scary thing.  That’s because leaders don’t necessarily act in the best interest of the organization and instead allow self-interest and personal goals to override the organization’s goals.[1]

When I was a director of a local non-profit entity a number of years ago, we had an Executive Director over the organization who was anything, but scrupulous.  His followers were many, but his intentions were personal.  Because of that, the non-profit was not the focus for him.  It was all about him getting ahead!  What I found was that people will follow leaders with blinders on because of their charismas alone.  That is a scary thought!

Andy Andrews’ book, How Do you Kill 11 Million People?  is a very powerful story about the Holocaust.  In the book, the author tells about how Hitler tricked 11 million people to go to their own death through his leadership filled with lies.  It is truly a powerful example of a charismatic leader who misled people through his dark side influence.  In it, Andrews explores that “if it is correct that ‘you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,’ then is it possible that if you don’t know the truth, its absence can place you in bondage? (or even lead you to death?”)[2]  In the case of the Holocaust, this couldn’t be more true.  As Hitler continued to lie to the Jews, they could have revolted at any time and certainly taken over Hitler’s regime.  Yet, they believed the lies and followed his leadership, walking blindly into a falsehood that cost them their lives.

John Lennon once said, “Living is easy with eyes closed.”  Every day in this world, people are blindly following false leaders.  And each day, we are losing a part of our value and self-worth as we trust and believe in the wisdom of the unwise.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could know the one true Leader and follow in His calling upon our lives?  Because walking in blindness can lead us into oblivion.

In the final words of Soren Kierkegaard, a famous Danish theologian, “There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”  AMEN!!!


[1] Dennis Tourish, The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective (Sussex: Routledge, 2013), 20.

[2] Andy Andrews, How Do You Kill 11 Million People? (New York: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 32.

About the Author


Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

10 responses to ““Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed””

  1. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Your family is full of transformational leaders Nancy. Wow!! Thank you for pointing out how difficult life can be when unhealthy leaders are put in positions of power.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks, Jacob. I appreciated your response. And yes, unhealthy leaders can cause life to be a difficult journey for so many. Effective leaders should lead by example and help build their followers into leaders along the way.

  2. mm Mary Mims says:

    The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. -Martin Luther King Jr.

    How timely is this quote today? Tourish talks about the need for dissent and upward feedback to combat the dark side of transformational leadership. It is only as we speak up that we will see improvement in our leaders. It is with great risk, but we must take that chance. May God help us all!

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      You summed it up perfectly, Mary: ‘God help us all’ as we journey through life on this earth. Leaders can be so damaging when they are only looking out for what is best for themselves. We’ve had this talk, Mary, and I know we are on the same page. Scary times are ahead of us, I’m afraid. But there is peace in knowing that God will always sit on the throne and our trust and faith will always be in Him!

  3. Thank you Nancy for helping us see even more clearly, the dangers of having the wrong people in power. As Mary puts it, we should be careful to be the dissenting voices and provide the upward feedback which calls for courage. I believe that courage is one core competence of a good leader. I pray that we will be those good leaders that will master the courage to dissent when that occasion arises that we must.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for your response, Wallace. I agree with you that courage is a necessary part of good leadership. It is important, as you said, that they must know when you recognize and encourage others – and when it is their time to move on.

  4. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank you Nancy for referring to your family in which you were raised up and you could connect with Dennis reflection on transformation leadership. I like your closing remarks on believing what not trie and fesung to believe what is true. This is what our nature is. We have a saying ion our culture that, women would fall for a man who lies to them but whoever speaks truth is rejcted.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for sharing, John. Yes, I agree that many people refuse to believe what is true, so they are often lied to and/or used by others. As I noted in the quote from John Lennon, ‘living is easy with eyes closed,’ because then the truth doesn’t matter. Yet, we must believe in truth and follow positive leaders who will help strengthen their followers.

  5. mm John Muhanji says:

    This is great nancy especially the experience of your family of high profiled political connection. I like your conclusion words that people would reject what is true and accept what is false. I connect this with a saying oin our culture here in Kenya that, women would be conviced easily by a man who lies to her than that who says the truth.

  6. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Ditto! (haha)

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