Tag Archives: purpose

Knowing Thyself and Leadership

Kind of without meaning to, I have been reading and thinking about knowing yourself this morning. I stumbled on an article by Faye Dresner which makes the connection between knowing yourself and effective leadership. This is interesting to me because as Martha and I get closer to leaving for Haiti, knowing who I am and how to lead well seem important.

David Ryback, in his book Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work, says “In the twenty-first century, the criteria for leadership will be not only knowledge and experience, but also healthy self-esteem and sensitivity to others’ feelings.” Dresner contends that understanding yourself and having a high degree of personal insight is just as if not more important.

Ryback in his book goes on to say that “The emotionally intelligent leader knows how to create instant rapport with practically anyone. She’s confident, self assured…[and these types of leaders are] adept at reading the unspoken, collective feelings of the teams they oversee.”

I agree with Ryback’s statements as well as with Dresner’s thought. As I think about past bosses, small group leaders, and mentors that I looked up to, they all possessed in one way or another confidence in themselves but also humility in how they led.

World Concern Haiti staff members

Martha and I will not necessarily be in managerial roles when we begin our ministry in Haiti, but I think the principles that Dresner’s article discusses and those that past strong leaders in my life have exhibited can serve as a great framework for us as we attempt to lead our Haitian colleagues in living lives of service that are Christ centered. The World Concern Haiti staff we have met are gracious, terribly patient, and emphathetic. We expect to learn much from our future co-workers, but also hope to encourage them and nudge them closer to Jesus.

What an amazing group. Some of the World Concern Haiti staff together in June.








Lance Secretan, one of the leading thinkers on leadership said, “Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.”

I like that. I don’t want to sound like I know myself completely and have it all together. I have much to learn about myself and about how I can become an others-focused leader. However, today and during this time of preparation, I want to begin that journey.

If you’re interested in reading more about the topic of knowing yourself and leadership, you should first check out Faye Dresner’s article entitled “Leader: First, Know Thyself.” Then jump over to How Matters, a blog by Jennifer Lentfer, and read her adaptation of Dresner’s article called “Aid Worker: First, Know Thyself.”


Our story, in our words

We wanted to tell you a little more about our story and how we arrived at this point in our journey…

AUSTIN “For me it started in college where, while majoring in Global Studies, I quickly became fascinated with culture and the world we live in.  I also became aware of poverty and its implications on individuals and communities.  That this injustice could exist in our modern world bothered me.  James 1:27 says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’  My reasoning was simple and my conviction strong; if the God I claim to follow and serve cares about this, then I must obey and ‘look after those in distress.’  I was not sure what God’s plan was for this desire to obey but I was willing.  This willingness took me to Amsterdam, Netherlands following graduation where I volunteered at a Christian youth hostel and ministered to backpackers and the city’s transient population.  It was during this time that I met a beautiful and passionate woman named Martha (yup my wife Martha) who shared my interest in people and poverty.  This opportunity in Amsterdam affirmed in me a desire to work closely with international people, especially those that are experiencing some kind of hardship and difficulty.  Upon returning to the U.S. and moving to Seattle, God provided me the opportunity to intern at a large non-profit organization for six months.  This experience gave me an in depth and ‘behind the scenes’ look at what it takes to run quality programs and partner with others in pursuit of alleviating poverty.  For those of you who know me, you know I am not a ‘cubicle kind of guy.’  But wow, I learned a ton and realized that working with the poor was something I wanted to be involved with long term.”

MARTHA “My journey began growing up in the Philippines.  Being there planted in me an interest in living among different cultures and gave me a heart for the poor.  I also had an interest in art, which brought me back to the US to study graphic design in college.  Upon graduation I had envisioned myself working in a design firm.  Instead, I had the opportunity to take part in an intercultural studies internship traveling through Europe and Africa gaining exposure to different cultures and ministries.  Another formative experience was the time I spent working at a youth hostel in Amsterdam.  Here I built relationships with travelers and used graphic design to assist with marketing.  Through these opportunities, I saw my passions for art, culture, and people come together.  It became clear that I wanted to continue being involved in creative communication, learning from other cultures, and participating in the transformation of people’s lives both physically and spiritually.  I was also sure that I wanted to spend the rest of life’s adventures and challenges alongside Austin (who I had met in Amsterdam).  And just as I believe God led us together, he has led us to this opportunity with World Concern that allows me to use each of these passions.”

Following our wedding, Martha and I began looking for opportunities to serve together abroad.  Some things clearly became closed doors.  However we were patient, knowing that God had placed this desire on our hearts for a specific purpose.  This became clear as soon as we began having conversations with the people at World Concern.  We discovered that they, like us, are truly and passionately committed to serving the poor.  God has been preparing us for this position with World Concern, and we are humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside the Haitian people.

Our vision is that Haitians will experience freedom from oppression and be given the opportunity to live life in all its’ fullness–physically, relationally, and spiritually.  As Christ said himself in the Gospel of John, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  What a beautiful promise.  This is what we desire for the people of Haiti and what we believe is possible.  Help us fulfill this vision.