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

On choosing to be vulnerable

Written by: on April 11, 2019

Brené Brown’s latest best seller, Dare to Lead is in part a compilation of her previous books, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, while adding her newest research on what makes brave leaders. Brave leaders are not an easy sell as becoming a brave leader means embracing difficulty in a culture full of over-stuffed recliners and Netflix. In all of Brown’s research she finds that the best leaders are those who are willing to be courageous through rumbling with vulnerability, living into their values, braving trust, and learning to rise from failure and set-backs.

Brown notes that she has selfish reasons for writing Dare to Lead, she wants to be a better leader and she wants more brave leaders in the world so that her children will live in a better place. I am with her. Her reasons for writing Dare to Lead are my reasons for doing this doctorate. I want to grow in my capabilities to lead others and I want to see my own work be formative for the world around me, particularly for my children. However, what I realize from both Dare to Lead and A Failure of Nerve, two challenging but insightful reads on self-leadership, is that in order to lead others I must first consider my own leadership. Am I willing to be vulnerable? Am I living my values? Am I trustworthy? Am I growing in my own resilience? To help answer these questions, Brown has created an assessment on her website along with a workbook. Of course, I took the assessment and downloaded the free workbook. I like knowing where I am at in regard to my own leadership.

But Dare to Lead does have a few drawbacks. As critics will note, there is much repeated in the text that is found elsewhere. If the reader has not taken in Brown’s other books they may find the text refreshing. But there is another point of contention for the reader. With so much valid and valuable information, it would be nearly impossible to absorb on a cross-country flight, even with a short stopover. This is Brown’s hope for readers but the amount of work that needs to be done by the reader to really know the content personally and be a braver leader is not fully possible in a one-day process.

For example, in reviewing this text, I kept finding one of two things happening. I would either look at headings, major sections, and the index for an overview or, more often, I would get stuck in a section applying it to my own world. This is the challenge with a text like Dare to Lead. You either summarize the book or you dive deep into one particular aspect and start doing your work.

In order to find much help from Dare to Lead, the reader has to look at themselves first, then they can read for application to their field. This seems to be a strategy of Brown, as she writes very personally much of the time. She is modeling the vulnerability that all leaders must own if they are to move toward their values or become resilient leaders. It is nearly impossible to read about the “Ham Fold-over Debacle”[1] in the Learning to Rise chapter without thinking, “Oh yeah, I can resonate with those moments in life when everything seems to break down and my emotions are hurled toward others.”

To take the path of vulnerability for a moment, I have felt the wheels come off on a few levels the past month. If we are being honest, roadside assistance has been needed much more since having children. I tend to think of these difficult experiences or pit stops as educational pathways. Currently, I consider myself enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in parenting, a continuing education course on communication in marriage, and a doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives to round out my work life. With regard to the past few weeks, I am also now including an experience in trauma therapy, from a bomb that has rocked our family’s world. With each of these, and especially in crisis, my ability to lead myself is tested. The questions of vulnerability and trust resurface and I wonder if I am living my values and how I will stay courageous enough to rise. Really, I just want that arm chair and a show. But then, in my commitment to do my work, I own the fact that I am paying for these courses, whether in time or money or relationships, and I am grateful for the community in the midst of them who continues to encourage me forward and pray us into miracle territory.

While I could spend much time on each section of Dare to Lead personally, I see the great value in the principals of Brown’s text being utilized by communities and organizations to create systemic healthy change. Within my own research Brown’s book is a resource to help church leadership reflect on why churches are not more diverse from the leadership to the pew. Brown even mentions in her section on “Rumbling with Vulnerability,” that armored leadership includes “tolerating discrimination, echo chambers and a “fitting-in” culture” while daring leadership cultivates a culture of belonging, inclusivity, and diverse perspectives.”[2] Here again, the culture is shaped by the individuals that make it up, with true belonging to one’s self being the first step to accepting others. Then strategies toward the inclusion of others involve “recognizing achievement, validating contribution; developing a system that includes power with, power to, and power within; and knowing your value.”[3] I intend to explore Brown’s research on how each of these strategies may help church leadership more accurately reflect the kingdom of God in practice.


[1] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. Penguin Random House: New York, 2018, 244.

[2] Ibid, 107.

[3] Ibid, 108.

About the Author


Trisha Welstad

Trisha is passionate about investing in leaders to see them become all God has created them to be. As an ordained Free Methodist elder, Trisha has served with churches in LA and Oregon, leading as a pastor of youth and spiritual formation, a church planter, and as a co-pastor of a church restart. Trisha currently serves as leadership development pastor at Northside Community Church in Newberg, OR. Over the last five years Trisha has directed the Leadership Center, partnering with George Fox and the Free Methodist and Wesleyan Holiness churches. The Leadership Center is a network facilitating the development of new and current Wesleyan leaders, churches and disciples through internships, equipping, mentoring and scholarship. In collaboration with the Leadership Center, Trisha serves as the director of the Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary and with Theologia: George Fox Summer Theology Institute. She is also adjunct faculty at George Fox University. Trisha enjoys throwing parties, growing food, listening to the latest musical creations by Troy Welstad and laughing with her two children.

9 responses to “On choosing to be vulnerable”

  1. mm Mike says:

    Congrats on finishing year 2 of LGP! It has been an awesome journey and I have really enjoyed sharing it with you and the eights!
    I like Brown and now see where Jean gets some of her inspiration. If I did not know her, I would not read her as much as I do, but that is just it. I know the person, so I choose to read Jean, and therefore trust her to read Brown.
    You know, all this “strategy” is great stuff, but try it in a church of 500+ and see how far you get if they are not already wired for it. I tried to start a strategic planning process that would include many of Brown’s healthy change strategies in our church about 5 years ago when I was taking my Dmin studies. Sorry I was told, that does not fit our plan, which they didn’t have, and still don’t. I think Brown’s ideas might gain good traction in house churches and small church plants since the congregation at large is not pre-conditioned to whatever their “normal” is.

    Great post. We are very proud of your A+ approach to life and ministry.
    Stand firm,

  2. Jay says:

    Hi Trish,

    Thank you for sharing, “I am also now including an experience in trauma therapy, from a bomb that has rocked our family’s world.”

    We love and appreciate you Trish, All I can say is, I am praying for you even now!

  3. Thanks for your beautifully vulnerable post, and I am so sorry you and your family are experiencing the trauma that has come from the devastating bomb dropped in your family. My prayers are with you all and hope you are getting some good help through this difficult time. I also can appreciate the fact that parenting and marriage must continue and trying to do these successfully in the midst of everything can be a daunting task. You are strong and courageous and in your weakness He will make you strong. You are daring to lead your family and your church and living out Brown’s principles of courageous leadership. After reading your blog I found her leadership assessment and found out that I have some work to do in order to become a more “Daring” leader. I am committed to this and grateful to my cohort for sharpening me. Blessings to you and your family!

  4. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    While I don’t know exactly what you are going through I will continue to pray for you and your family. I have found some of the most trying times in life come in the midst of following closely to God’s call. You are a tremendous person and I know that God will walk with you through this time. I love how you take our reading and apply it both to your life and your ministry.


  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:


    The fact that you recognize the various ‘academic’ programs in which you are currently enrolled, including the current trauma therapy, demonstrates that you in fact are practicing the very things Brown and others we have read this year suggest are integral. Genuine leadership does not happen when pretense rules the day. It best happens when we recognize that we are on the same journey as those we are trying to lead. That is what was so compelling about Brown’s text this week for me. I pray that you will continue to investigate yourself and be willing to be honest about that with those you seek to lead.

  6. Trisha,

    When our world is rocked with trauma bombs, it’s truly tempting to just numb the pain with Netflix and recliners (or something more potent). And sometimes we do need that numbing for awhile before we’re ready to deal with life.

    Know that you are in my prayers during this recent challenge. We love you sis.

  7. Greg says:

    Trisha. I thought this book was good but also thought it not possible to read and digest this book in cross country flight; especially because I hate reading books that require me to think on a plane 🙂
    Being in this program when you have young kids and a full-time job has to be difficult. I have thought you often and lifted your families situation up. This is beyond anything we can prepare or plan for. I am sorry and will continue to remember you all.

  8. Hey Trish, I totally agree about the book being difficult to just read.I listened toit with my husband, and we kept having to stop it to have discussions about what was just said. And while much of it resonated at the time, the only things that really stuck were the things that seemed to have immediate application in our lives.

    I’m so sorry about the trauma that you are facing. Those are the courses that we don’t enroll in and still end up having to take. Praying for you and your family. Love you!

  9. mm Kyle Chalko says:


    I so apprecaited your sharing today. Praying for you.

    what a timely book. Im glad you got to spend some time diving into it, and I think a lot of this is reall applicable after crisis situations. So sorry for what you’re going through.

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