As I reflect on this past year, probably the most surprising part of this journey has been the amazing friendships I have developed with the wonderful people in my LGP8 cohort. I didn’t realize I would gain this extra benefit from pursuing my Doctor of Ministry, but it has definitely been a pleasant surprise. I can confidently say that my first advance to Cape Town, South Africa changed me. I will never look at apartheid the same or forget the tragic stories of how the extreme discrimination affected the people of South Africa. I have also changed in the way I look at my topic of research. As I have read and researched my topic of gender-balanced leadership, I have become even more passionate about making a difference in closing this long-standing gender-leadership gap in top leadership positions around the country and in almost every sector of life. I also see myself leading differently and being more deliberate in advocating for female leaders and educating others about the gender-balanced leadership crisis. I also feel more confident in my leadership as I read materials from the experts and discuss leadership principles with my colleagues over Zoom chats and blog discussions.
I also feel the readings assigned by Dr. Jason Clark have increased my overall leadership awareness and cultural intelligence. Probably one of the most impacting of those was Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures by Gary McIntosh. The importance of self-awareness and self-examination was driven home in this book and I believe these are some of the most important aspects of effective leadership. This dovetailed beautifully with my increased knowledge of the Enneagram that resulted from me diving deeper into this amazing personality awareness tool from working on my Personal Leadership Development Plan. As I learn about the multifaceted dimensions of the Enneagram and how I tend to behave when I am stressed or struggling compared with when I am in a place of health and growth has been incredibly beneficial to my personal leadership journey. The more I learn about what makes me tick and why I do the things I do, I feel more self-aware and able to guard against my “dark sides” of leadership.
The Advance to Cape Town was an amazing experience, and being able to experience it with my wife made it all the more special. Meeting my cohort for the first time was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Whenever a group of people comes together from different parts of the country and world and from different walks of life, you never know what you will experience. After meeting and spending time with all of my wonderful LGP8 brothers and sisters, I am convinced it has to be the best cohort to have ever gone through the DMin program. The quality and diversity of the individuals are amazing and I love what I learn from each one of them. I also loved the fact that many of them loved to play and have a good time in the midst of an intense week of learning and taking in some intense things. Another very memorable experience for me in Cape Town was at JL Zwane Memorial Church. Spending time hearing from the local people about their experience of apartheid, including college women who still experience a great deal of discrimination, as well as Wilhelm Verwoerd, whose grandfather was the architect of apartheid, was life-changing. At the same time, hearing from the African-American women in our group share about their pain of discrimination in the U.S. was equally impacting, especially when I include the rampant gender discrimination that exists as well. To follow this experience up with coming back the next day for an authentic South African church service blew me away. I will never forget the sights and sounds of that day and the beauty of seeing the Body of Christ come together in unity. What an amazing first year it has been, and I can’t wait to get to Hong Kong to kick off my second year and be together with my awesome cohort again.