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

The Treasure in the Cave

Written by: on April 10, 2019

Being a conference junkie for more than thirty years, I found myself burned out with the idea of one more registration confirmation in my inbox, just as a friend who works with Patrick Lencioni’s Table Group, began prodding me and our team to come to The Unconference. How could I politely get out of this without disappointing my friend? After consistent coaxing and piquing my interest with a few key phrases about the content, I caved and registered, and also wrangled our executive team to join me. While packing for Dallas, I began telling myself what Brene Brown in Dare to Lead describes as a reactionary SFD story. I rehearsed what I was certain we would experience at the UN conference and offloaded the emotion on my poor luggage as the pressure of an already overloaded schedule got the best of me.[1] Off I went to the airport wearing a fake smile and carrying a well-constructed SFD.

I was completely taken back by what I experienced within minutes of the first session. I was absolutely captivated, wrote copious notes, felt my blood pumping and heart racing and was more alive than I had been in months! By the end of the first day my friend came to me with a handful of ink pens and a cocky smile and said, “Here you go, from your behavior today I think you’re going to need these and maybe another notebook too!” He was right. What was it about this conference that was so different from the hundreds of others I have sat through? Creative presentations of people-focused, organizational health principles discussed by practitioners living out the behaviors being taught. It was as biblical as any Christian ministry conference I had ever attended. Speakers such as Alan Mullaly of Ford, the CEOs of Southwest Airlines and Chick-fil-A, Ken Blanchard and several more told their stories of failure and success, and shared vulnerability and trust building practices focused on the development of every team member. Yes! This is what I always hoped was possible and want to be part of, this is workplace discipleship at its finest.

I had the same palpable sense of fulfillment this week while reading Dare to Lead. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and New York Times bestselling author has invested two decades in studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy and their effects on authentic leadership and wholeheartedness in organizations. Brown dares us to lead courageously, as the culmination of her years of study.  She describes this kind of leadership as “the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”[2] She set the hook for me to engage this book with my highlighter, just as I had done with ink pens to the Unconference notebook, through her definition of a leader, “Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” That’s it! That’s what I have been searching for. I have read more books on leadership than the number of conferences I have attended and this definition speaks to the core of my being like nothing I have ever heard. Every CEO that presented at the Unconference modeled and expressed the very same concepts and their team members confirmed the effects on them as human beings, not just as employees.

In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes five necessary behaviors cohesive teams must live out in order to experience a healthy organization: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. Lencioni is convinced that vulnerability-based trust is foundational to the other four. “At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the collective good of the team…Simply stated, it makes teamwork possible. Only when teams build vulnerability-based trust do they put themselves in a position to embrace the other four behaviors.”[3]

For people and for organizations, these are processes of becoming, of maturing. This is the treasure I have personally been seeking in leadership for many years. And to think, the conference cave I had been afraid to enter actually held the treasure I seek![4]


[1] Brene Brown, Dare to Lead (New York: Random House, 2018), 259-260.

[2] Ibid, xviii.

[3] Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012), Kindle Loc. 719, 889.

[4] Brown, 52.

About the Author


Tammy Dunahoo

Tammy is a lover of God, her husband, children and grandchildren. She is the V.P. of U.S. Operations/General Supervisor of The Foursquare Church.

5 responses to “The Treasure in the Cave”

  1. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I had a similar reaction to reading Brown’s definition of a leader, “Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” As I mentioned in my post, I ended up reading much more of this book than I intended because I resonated so much with her leadership concepts. I wonder what the Holy Spirit is up to?

  2. Mario Hood says:

    This sounds like a great conference to attend!

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this definition of leadership. It is simple but powerful. It takes into account people and process and more importantly the relational nature it all entails. To me it also opens the door for ANYONE to be a leader who is willing to do what it takes. Do you see that as well?

  3. I wonder if the sessions in the conference were recorded and whether its possible to listen to the recorded messages, it must have been a great conference.

    I agree with you that Brown book which, is a result of her two decade research is such a gem for leaders. I”ll personally keep the book as a reference book in my leadership role and I will use it to develop more leaders.

  4. Andrea Lathrop says:

    Tammy – this is excellent. And with your schedule! I am a big fan of Lencioni and we engaged the Table Group at the church I’m at. I was a part of some initial conversations with them and I just resonate with their perspective of leadership and organizational health – just like I do with Brown’s definition you shared. Thanks for the investment into me with this – again.

  5. mm Mary Mims says:

    Tammy, I had no idea you were a conference junkie! I went to so many Single conferences that I refuse to go again. Now you have me re-thinking my decision.

    I agree that the book was insightful. I’m just wondering how realistic her ideas are. However, I am excited about going into the cave. Blessings!

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