Rhythms of Healthy Leadership w/ Daphne Sidney
Welcome to the GC Podcast, a podcast to help you develop into the healthiest ministry leader you can be by sharing practical ministry experience.
Cara: Hello friends, and welcome to today’s episode of GC Podcast. This episode is devoted to exploring best ministry practices in the context of Grace Communion International churches.
I’m your host, Cara Garrity, and today I am overjoyed to interview Daphne Sydney. She’s this GCI Superintendent of Australasia, and she is blessed to be married with two children, one grandchild, and two dogs. Her hobbies include art—both creating and appreciating art—and books, which is something that we both share.
Daphne, thank you so much for joining the GC Podcast today.
[00:00:51] Daphne: Thank you Cara, so much. I really appreciate being able to have this discussion with you this evening. It’s a real privilege, and warm greetings to all our listeners.
[00:01:02] Cara: Yes, I’m looking forward to it as well. And today we’re really going to be focusing our time on rhythms of healthy leadership.
So, to start, I’m curious, what does healthy leadership mean to you, Daphne?
[00:01:15] Daphne: Thank you, Cara. By way of introduction, I came across a statement from NCLS, that is the National Church Life Survey here in Australia, which noted that leadership is everyone’s business. And one aspect of church life is creating a leadership culture, which I thought was really interesting. It is really what we are contributing to tonight, where leaders are developed, supported, validated, and given opportunity to grow.
So, I just thought that’s a really nice introduction. And they also say that two things that really are important keys to growing healthy church are inspiring, empowering, leadership, coupled with growing and owned vision.
So those are two important keys for healthy church leadership and vision. So, what does healthy leadership mean to me? I’d like to start with the incarnational ministry of Christ. Incarnation ministry and leadership is not something we can do on our own. In that sense, we are participating in the life and mission of Jesus. And incarnation leadership is about Jesus who became flesh and dwelt among us, where Jesus fully divine, became fully human, and he was willing to come down to us to enter our world of pain and sorrow in spite of the fact that he is our God and creator.
And in Galatians, it says, it’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in us. And so then may we be the hands and the feet of Jesus as we are called to participate in that mission of ministry and leadership of Jesus Christ. I just feel that Jesus was so transformational in his life and leadership, and he is the way, the truth, and the life.
So, for us to embody him in our leadership, Jesus faced the full extent of temptations yet without sin. Jesus is one who could empathize with our human experience. Yet he did not capitulate to sin but maintained his identity and his purpose for coming. And I think this sets a very interesting tone for our leadership today as we live in this post-Christian skeptical world, undermining of Christianity.
We empathize with people. We care, and we love them. But at the same time, we need not to lose ourselves or be overwhelmed by the philosophies of the day, but to hold onto our identity in Christ. Jesus was determined and so courageous as he surrendered his will to the Father. And we can recall Jesus in the garden and his prayer, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me, nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.
And then in the same setting, Jesus heals the ear of the servant of the high priest, which Peter had cut off. This was mercy and compassion for those who had come to arrest him. So only love and compassion can bring us such transcendence as it is God’s love overflowing, which makes for a transformational leader.
In researching contemporary leadership theories, I was interested in the work around transforming leadership. There’s quite a bit of material on that, and one statement that stood out to me was in Burn’s work. And to cut it very short, in all that he had written, he said he advised leaders to develop their followers to be leaders themselves.
I thought that was a beautiful statement. No longer just followers, but encouraged to become leaders, encouraging the followers to become leaders—allowing for questions, encouraging questions, encouraging discussion and input. And I think this helps put language to how Jesus was transformational because he invested in his followers to become leaders themselves.
He led and inspired those motley 12 disciples—Peter, headstrong fisherman, and Matthew, a tax collector. Imagine the variety of people that he worked with and increased this circle and inspired them to take his message right to the ends of the earth. That’s inspiration, isn’t it? Jesus certainly shared the vision with them.
He was relentless in preaching about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus equipped them for three and a half years on the ground with them talking through every experience and every encounter. And Jesus didn’t shy away from difficult encounters. He said he had to go through some area where others would avoid that area.
Jesus said, I have to go through some area, a cross-cultural experience. Not only a different culture, but crossing cultural norms in speaking to a woman, giving her dignity and empowering her to go and give her testament to the village. And I love that it says in John 4, many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of that woman’s testimony. A marginalized woman, non-Jewish, made a very effective leader by her presence with Jesus.
And Jesus led with such grace and compassionate heart, demonstrated so many times, and we know that he wept with Mary and Martha as he felt very deeply for them and their loss of their beloved brother. Jesus cared for the crowds who were hungry and fed them. He healed the sick and oppressed.
He also took time out alone with the Father. He treasured that time in connection and connecting with his Father. Jesus felt great compassion as he saw the people who were weary and worn out like sheep without a shepherd, Matthew 9. So, he is the good shepherd, and that also provides a wonderful example of leadership for us today. The shepherd and sheep analogy is used both in the Old Testament and the New and can be viewed as a very relational kind of leadership.
David himself was a shepherd, so he understood this shepherd to sheep relationship, and David was a man after God’s own heart. The shepherd loves his sheep. He knows them and calls them by name. And as we read in John 10:3, the sheep listened to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
He leads them. Verse 4, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. This speaks to trust and respect, an intimate relationship, which is a beautiful model, again, for leadership. And I think this would also lead us into the model of servant leadership where we have, Jesus Christ once again, the one who wrapped the towel around himself and proceeded to wash the disciple’s feet.
The one who told us, go and do likewise. Matthew 20:28, just as Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and to give his life as a ransom for many. What an incredible gift. Hence, our team-based, pastor led model of leadership, serving and building a team, utilizing giftings, collaboration, and building community through a shared vision.
Jesus Christ, in Philippians 2:5-8, shows how we are to have the same mindset. That mindset of a servant leadership. In verse 5, it says, in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in the very nature, God did not consider equality with God, something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even on the cross.
I just think Jesus is really our all. He is the way, the truth, and the life when we think of that approach to leadership.
[00:10:00] Cara: Absolutely. And what I love about what you’ve shared and how it lays a foundation for how we can think about healthy leadership as, first and foremost, Jesus is our one and only most perfect, healthy leader.
[00:10:17] Daphne: Yes. That’s it.
[00:10:18] Cara: And so, we lead in and through him only as a participation in who he is. And he’s the one who leads in and through us. I think that’s an incredible, beautiful thing. And it’s also both freeing and challenging for us as leaders in the church. I really appreciate that you started us off there, Daphne. So, thank you so much for that.
And then also bringing it back to even an organizational practical level, how that informs our team-based pastor led model.
In what you shared, I heard even those threads and rhythms of engaging and equipping and encouraging and empowering because those are things that we have been wanting to build into, like you said, our culture of leadership in GCI because those are rhythms that we see in who Jesus is.
Those are the particular words that we’ve chosen in GCI to use as part of our own culture. But they’re based on that foundation that you’ve so beautifully laid out for us, that are modeled after Jesus, our one true and perfect healthy leader. And so, thank you so much for that.
[00:11:44] Daphne: Oh, you’re welcome.
Yeah. I think it’s so beautiful the way we see the 4 Es all through the way Jesus did everything. You know how he engaged people, how he equipped them and empowered them and encouraged them. It’s just so evident in his life.
[00:12:01] Cara: Absolutely. And now that we’ve looked at that foundation of what healthy leadership is and how we want to define that, Daphne I’m wondering what are some ways that you intentionally develop rhythms that point to and form healthy leadership? And both personally for you as a leader in GCI, but also regionally as a superintendent, what are some of the things that you do to encourage those rhythms of healthy leadership for those that you lead?
[00:12:40] Daphne: Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Cara. Personally, and of first importance, I think is that of growing in Jesus Christ. That he becomes prominent in our thinking, living, and being. And Peter’s final words in 2 Peter, grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior to grow into Jesus Christ.
And that’s something I think, in terms of rhythms, that’s a daily thing that we need to be doing. Paul also writes about this, how he labored for Christ to be formed in the brethren, and that was his deep desire. Again, it comes down to these daily rhythms of looking to really grow in Jesus Christ through that, through the spiritual disciplines.
And Paul, you can see he just had such a heart for Christ to be formed in them that he said he describes that moment of childbirth as Christ being formed in them. And now the letters, he also says, and Christ in you, the hope of glory so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And this is a journey of faith, and Christ must increase as I decrease. And it’s a realization that Christ is in us, that he’s doing the work along with all the others in whom he has formed. And it’s not about us and our works, but it’s Christ and his work in us.
So, I’m still much a work in progress of Christ being formed in me. And I pray to be more prominent that Christ can be more prominent and evident in my work. And I think, as I said, spiritual formation then is that ongoing process. It’s day by day rhythm, really, which involves that regular rhythm of reading the word and prayer and meditation, which helps keeps us in that formation process.
And I like Mulholland’s description of spiritual formation. And I think it’s so beautifully expressed. I just like to read it out for our listeners.
It is a process of being formed in the image of Christ, a journey into becoming persons of compassion persons who forgive persons who care deeply for others, and the world persons who offer themselves to God to become agents of divine grace in the lives of others and their world. [Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.]
In brief, persons who love and serve as Jesus did. Like many, I struggle with busyness, the busyness of life and work too. But I realize that spiritual formation is vital for the Christian leader, for that stability, sustainability, and growth. Not just for the self, but for all those that we serve, for the whole church community and for our neighborhoods.
So that Christ is in us enabling us to reach out and touch lives with love and compassion. So there does need to be that daily rhythm of seeking Christ and having him being formed in us, being very mindful of that, so that we can have Christ in us and his love and compassion, because humanly we can run dry.
In terms of other rhythms, there’s my family rhythms, spending time with family and on weekends getting together sometimes, and then Christmas time. So, there’s also those family patterns and rhythms.
And I think another rhythm is important in terms of a leadership is being a lifelong learner. It’s a trait needed for healthy leadership. And I’ve been blessed with the freedom over the years and enjoyed that rhythm of taking courses or classes or learning something. Always learning something, always learning and having that posture of curiosity. And even now, if someone mentions a book, I’m eager to buy it, to discover and think, what are they finding so interesting.
And I have a friend who loves poetry and so he’s picked my interest lately again in poetry. And I think great communicators have been poets or have at least appreciated poetry. And I’ve also taken art and painting courses. because I believe that having a wide range of interests enables us to relate to people and communicate with them in many varied ways. So, creativity and arts, having a rhythm of that also helps us to thrive and not merely survive.
So, in terms of rhythms of healthy leadership development for our region, we can look at this from a weekly to an annual cycle or rhythm. Pastors are encouraged to take their annual leave to ensure they have time off for refreshing and family time off during the week, because usually their weekends are a busy time engaged in church and activities and ecclesiastically.
First of all, we have the Christian calendar, which supports leaders in conducting those annual rhythms of worship centered around the life of Jesus, that we as a church communion are kept in those annual seasons of worship. And I think that’s a beautiful rhythm that we have from the calendar and for a couple of our focus churches, outreach to neighborhood.
I hold events around seasons too, such as Christmas or Easter. And I think it’s good to think of rhythms in terms of those seasonal outreaches, so it’s not just a one-time event. There’s a follow-up and rhythm to work towards. And that is so important in leadership roles that our thought processes are to discern what Jesus Christ is already doing and how do we participate in that?
How do we participate in his rhythms, discerning what’s next or what is the next step? And most of our church services now have included a rhythm of either weekly or monthly communion. So that brings much more depth now and meaning and Christ-centeredness to our services. A couple of churches also hold youth and children’s church on a regular basis, and it’s vital to be mindful of our children and youth.
And I’d like to see more rhythms of activity for our youth. We also have other established rhythms, like the National Board has an annual retreat at the beginning of the year. John Mclean has given some excellent board trainings at these. The national ministry team held a retreat at the beginning of this year, and we’d like to do that as an annual rhythm.
We have monthly trainings on Zoom for the Australian pastors, where we invite guest speakers. I think we’ve invited you to some of those, Cara. We recently had Dr. Charles Fleming on Missional Living. They’re wonderful having guest speakers that help us in our journey. We’ve had other GCI superintendents, and it’s wonderful too to be able to learn from their experiences.
And we have presentations on GCI materials, from Media on Healthy Church, the three Avenues, team-based pastor led model, et cetera. We also hold national pastoral conferences every year or so, and a large Australian conference every three years. And last year, we were blessed to have Greg and Susan Williams attend, which made it very special.
New Zealand also holds an annual retreat, and this year they are having trainings on the 4 Es. With Coach Martin Bailey, the Caloundra and Echuca annual celebrations have resumed again after Covid, as we had a bit of a break during Covid. And Tasmania’s having an Advent retreat again this year at the end of November.
We also commit to annual trips to visit our brethren in the islands in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Otherwise, they can feel quite isolated, and they really look forward to those annual visits. So, it’s wonderful that we’re able to do that and that’s a rhythm or something that they look forward to, to keep us connected and together.
So, we give God the glory for what he is doing, and we have so much to learn. And we pray that as Christ is being formed in us, we become pliable in his hands, that we are being shaped and molded by him because we can’t do it on our own. And we just pray that we’re in his rhythms as he’s showing and leading us.
[00:21:29] Cara: Amen. Daphne, there’s so much richness in what you just shared. I can’t even decide what I want to highlight first. I really appreciate—and I hope that our listeners, this isn’t lost on them—that the first thing that you mention again, is the rhythms of spiritual formation.
Because if we take seriously what you said that Jesus is our one and only perfectly healthy leader. And he’s the first of the new humanity, right? Then the first rhythm of healthy leadership for us as his followers is to be formed in his likeness and to continue to be in agreement, in being formed into his likeness by his Holy Spirit.
And so, to be in that rhythm of formation, of seeking him, that is a beautiful thing. And because first and foremost, we are his disciples and his followers, even before we are leaders in his church. So, I really hope listeners that’s not lost, that is definitely the wisdom that you have, that you started with that.
And then corporately, I love those rhythms of healthy leadership that you mentioned. I saw a balance of rhythms of rest and learning, of doing things hands-on, that there was a balance of that. Not just coming aside to learn, but then putting things into action and truly participating in Jesus’s ministry.
So not just rhythms of learning things of how to be a healthy leader, but to put healthy leadership into action. And then I’m really impressed with the rhythms that you described. They’re not rhythms in isolation. They’re rhythms where leaders are able to come together and be together.
Community as the body of Christ, and that is so key for healthy leadership. You mentioned things like retreats. And both, retreats just for rest and retreats for trainings and for learning. And being prepared to go out and participate in ministry. Daphne, that is so important for the development of healthy leadership.
That’s such important rhythms because the statistics on how isolated many church leaders feel; it’s devastating. And so that your rhythms include coming together for leaders is such a healthy thing. God created us for community, as his body. And so, I love that you highlighted that and that those are some of the rhythms that are being encouraged in your region.
That is such a beautiful thing, such richness in the rhythms that you described.
[00:24:54] Daphne: Oh, thank you, Cara. One thing that has helped us out of Covid actually is being able to Zoom. Because we are a large country, Zoom at least once or twice a month with all the pastors has been fantastic.
[00:25:07] Cara: Yes. That being able to come together, that’s a sacred thing, right? We weren’t created to be alone. Absolutely.
[00:25:18] Daphne: That’s right. Because isolation and loneliness can be quite a difficult thing for leaders. So, it’s very important to have those meetings either on Zoom, and of course getting together in person, that cannot be replaced as well.
[00:25:35] Cara: Absolutely. Like I said, there’s so much richness and wisdom and I think experience in what you just shared. So, I’m wondering for our newer emergent leaders, what is something you wish that you knew early on in your leadership development, regarding your growth or rhythms of healthy leadership?
[00:26:04] Daphne: Perhaps it’s not just new things I wish I knew early on, but things which I would like to have understood more deeply. God gives us more depth of understanding as we face some of those tough experiences through our Christian journey and leadership. I think in any kind of ministry leadership, we walk with people through good times, the peaks of life, and we walk with them through the valleys. It’s such a privilege to be part of people’s lives and it’s sacred ground really.
We have our own ups and downs, and I realize more and more that it’s really a journey of the heart, both head and heart, but a lot of heart. And sometimes there’s just no words. We groan in the spirit, so to speak. We need his interceding for us in both how we respond and encourage others, but also how we manage ourselves.
Coming back to that self-awareness acknowledging our own feelings and failures. One verse I’ve learned more about recently is finding the rhythm, so to speak, of rest and peace in Jesus and being able to let go of many things. Because there are a lot of worries and concerns about the future that we can hold onto if we wanted to.
It is okay to be human. Even leaders are humans. But I love Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart.
And I’ve never really noticed before so much the heart aspect of Jesus. [inaudible] in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And it’s only in recent times that I’ve realized that this is really preceded by verses showing the relationship of the Father to the Son and the dynamics of the Trinity.
In verse 27, just preceding it says, all things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and to those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
So that handing over to the Son is like letting go. That pouring out and emptying of yourself, it’s that letting go and it’s that giving and the receiving. And it’s all done in that mutual love and oneness. And these are the beautiful rhythms of our triune God. And I’ve come to realize how this pattern can help us in our rhythms of life and the experiences that we face—that pouring out, the letting go, and the receiving of God’s love.
Sometimes we forget to receive his love and that gives me strength to embrace the human circle of life and be able to help others through it. Because I think as we’re an aging church, we are having quite a few of our beautiful, longtime members who are passing. And that’s, I think, a time of grief for our church in many ways.
But by thinking about this in terms of that beautiful rhythm of the triune God, I think it gives us that strength. Sometimes that is through being vulnerable, humble in heart, being human and real about ourselves and acknowledging our feelings. Just as Jesus wept, he didn’t hide that Jesus wept so that others can relate.
Just as an example, we’ve kept in touch with our neighborhood, with our neighbor from our previous residence. We moved a couple of years ago, but she still likes to keep in touch. And just recently she called us because she’s just been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. And she’d like us to visit her.
She just really wants to pour out her heart and have a hug, and we’d be more than happy to do that. But it’s just lovely that we’ve still got that connection. And you can see that the needs of the heart and how people just need to be heard and perhaps just need that hug and help people let go.
Her husband is very ill, and he has a brain tumor. And she’s probably likely to die very soon as well. Letting go is a big part of life. Even seeing your own child grow to adulthood and handing over responsibility to their lives. It’s that letting go of your children or losing loved ones is the hardest as we go through grief and loss or watching your child with a disability go through the disappointments as they’re not able to keep up with their peers.
Or sometimes feeling a failure when your messages feel like they’ve been a flop or perhaps [inaudible] this day. It’s interesting to go back one verse further, even to verse 26. It says that these things have been revealed to little children, reminding us again of our vulnerability, just needing to be childlike.
Not in an immature way, but just in regard to the childlike openness to love. Children make mistakes. They fall over, but they get up again. And we can give all of this to Jesus. And when I think of Jesus who emptied himself, he was stripped of everything and stretched out on that cross, he was mocked and doubted.
So, Jesus can truly empathize with our feelings. He invites us to bring all of ourselves to him, not just part of us, but all of ourselves to him, to be buried in the tomb with him, but most importantly to be raised up again with him. And he gives us that help to be persistent, to get up again, to persevere.
He raises our spirits and helps us through. The point is we can safely leave things to him. And I think that’s the most beautiful thing because sometimes when we talk about letting go, it’s not like you can just let go to the thin air. But we know with God, we can give it to him, and we let go because he holds it.
And then he raises us up, and he raises our spirits and helps us through. And sometimes when you think about little children, you know that circle of security, we see that children will come to a parent for a hug and then they venture out and do something. And then they come back again to the parent’s lap for love and security. Then they venture out a little bit further. And it’s a rhythm and it’s a rhythm of that giving and receiving and letting go. And we have that with Jesus. When we have that wonderful relationship with him, we know that he holds us. And then he gives us the courage to go out. Then we come back again for more feeling of his love and strength and security.
So, we have that beautiful rhythm in that circle of security.
[00:33:08] Cara: Thank you, Daphne. I think that’s beautifully described and I like the way you said too, it’s not necessarily a new thing, but a depth of knowing and a grounded-ness in that truth.
And I do think that’s a beautiful thing and what a gift that it would be for those early on in their development as leaders. If we could package that up and give that grounded-ness and give that sense of grounded-ness even on those toughest days in ministry and in life. The firmness of that truth of who Christ is. That’s beautiful.
I’m wondering too because you’ve described a lot of really rich and beautiful things about what Jesus teaches us about healthy leadership and how we can participate in that, what that looks like when we allow ourselves to be formed by him and his spirit in that healthy leadership.
What are some patterns that you’ve seen over your time in leadership or maybe ways of thinking that can get in the way of developing those rhythms of healthy leadership?
[00:34:48] Daphne: John Maxwell claims that what sabotages more leadership efforts and derails good teams more than anything else is that lack of self-awareness. And he goes on to say, when leaders don’t see themselves clearly or are unaware of their strengths and weaknesses, or fail to recognize their negative interactions, they limit their influence and undermine their own effectiveness.
And as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living. And I always thought that’s a hard statement, but it seems a very strong statement to make. But it is important as the toughest person to lead is always our self.
Even Edmund Hillary in climbing Mount Everest, and he reached the peak. He said, it’s not the mountain we have to conquer, but it is ourselves. So that self-awareness really is important. However, in contemporary leadership theories, it’s noticed that despite recognition of the importance of self-awareness and continuing self-evaluative processes, relatively little attention has been directed at understanding how this type of leadership is fostered.
So, I think this gives value to the work of Giant authors, in those articles, know yourself to lead yourself and the tools that they’ve developed. And Giant uses the infinity symbol to show leadership is a journey ongoing, and that self-awareness is a never-ending process in terms of infinity.
It’s ongoing, and the self-awareness angle that they put it into two simple commitments, which I think makes it easy to understand, isn’t it? A commitment to understand how you’re wired, the tendencies that result from such wiring and the impact those tendencies have on others. And two, a commitment to change your negative tendencies in order to become the best person and leader you can be.
So that willingness to change really is the hard part, isn’t it? If I’m not willing to change and grow, then all the efforts around self-examination really are pointless. But it’s just the difficult part really.
The truth is we need help. And that’s where the Psalms, I think—in praying the Psalms is a wonderful help because this reminds me of Psalms 19:12. It says, who can discern his own errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults.
Because sometimes there are things that are hidden to us, but God knows us better than anyone, than even we ourselves know ourselves. In Psalm 139:23-24, God, the Psalm says, search me. Oh God, know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
And other translations say, see if there’d be any hurtful way in me, or if there’d be offensive tendency or any way in me that is grievous, then please lead me in that way everlasting—meaning, lead me in the ways that reflect Jesus.
It’s Jesus that really can only change our heart. And that’s what’s important to the Father, really is our heart. And he can change any hurtful or harmful tendencies and that can be our prayer. And instead to change them to those tendencies of his that reflect him of love and love of God, love of neighbor, and wanting to see the best for others, even to the love of our enemies.
And I think Hebrews 12 also touches on something else which can get in the way of healthy leadership. In verse 15, it says, see to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble. So bitter roots can also be a big hindrance. And in dealing with roots of bitterness, again, we must first deal with ourselves.
It comes to that self-awareness and what is in our own hearts, because roots, they grow under the ground. They’re not visible to the naked eye, and sometimes they’re not even visible to the person. And it could be hurts or pains from childhood issues or rejection or abuse or painful experiences later in life. And if they’ve not been dealt with, they can cause anger and hatred and envy.
Sometimes those things just sit and simmer and could even be the seeds of mental illness or emotional instability. And one tendency which is not healthy, is to deal with these symptoms through self-medicating, which often happens through alcohol or drugs or destructive behaviors like very impulsive anger or outbursts.
So, a healthy leader is one who recognizes this and seeks help and encourages another to seek help if there be underlying issues, which is holding someone back. And it’s not shameful to get help through counseling or spiritual direction or chaplaincy supervision. It’s a healthy thing. And I think we need to overcome the stigma that it’s a weakness to ask for help.
It’s a great power in having professionals to talk to and talk things through—someone who can help us work through painful issues because it can be a wonderful release and a healing to the mind and the body. So myself, coming from a psychology and social work background, it’s very normal that we have that regular and ongoing supervision so that we have someone professional to talk to about that journey of life so that things don’t get below the surface and develop those unhealthy roots.
So instead, we really to be rooted in the love of Christ to be digging into his word, into the meaning of grace and forgiveness. Realize the lavish love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and the power of forgiveness and of grace. God is a healer, and we can trust him that he knows is best.
He is a God of compassion and care, and we can trust him with our thoughts and our anxious thoughts. And at times he would also allow us to get help from humans, other people who can help us. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. But also, as it says in Peter, cast all your anxiety or burdens on him because he cares for you.
In fact, the verse before this says, humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. And one commentary notes that casting your cares on him is not offering a new command but is defining how believers are to be humble. Taking that word casting, and it should be connected with the word humble, which means enriching the understanding of both verbs, humbling ourselves and casting our cares on him.
And that’s not a negative, but a positive action and one of active dependence on God for help, and God will help us. And sometimes that is in the form of another person and there’s no shame in reaching out for help. I think that’s an important aspect of answering the question on how to address issues or things that come up which may hinder healthy leadership.
And just to encourage that open conversation one-on-one, encourage people to seek professional help, either in the form of chaplaincy or spiritual direction or counseling and always try to be the active listener and try to listen for what’s happening for the person. Let people know that you’re there for them and with them and be willing to challenge when needed.
But as our model suggests, always with high support and grace always.
[00:43:03] Cara: Thank you, Daphne. That is excellent word for our listeners and our leaders. And so, as we come up towards the end of our time together in this particular conversation, what final encouragement or advice would you give our pastors and local leaders who are developing their rhythms of healthy leadership?
[00:43:38] Daphne: I think that one of the big things, as I said, is really about the spiritual formation. And that development of that healthy inner life as the first protocol when we’re encouraging healthy pastors or healthy leadership because I believe the spiritual disciplines help shape those daily or weekly rhythms in promoting that healthy inner life.
In his book, Eugene Peterson gives a quote, which is quite provocative because the book’s working the angles, the shape of pastoral integrity. But he quotes and a call for all pastors to abandon their preoccupation with image and standing, administration success and economic viability and return to the three basic critical things for the pastoral ministry: praying, reading scripture, and giving spiritual direction.
It comes again, I think, to that spiritual formation. And I love the way that Mulholland explains about the map for spiritual formation because we live in a world of instant gratification, and we look for quick fixes and search for right techniques or proper methods or perfect programs that can immediately deliver. But really the spiritual formation is about spiritual maturity and wholeness. And that is very much a process. And spiritual growth can be likened to the nature of physical growth. And when we think of a baby and spend the first year patiently changing diapers, feeding him or her with milk and gradually [inaudible] and measure the growth pound by pound, and inch by inch.
And we try to build in routine and healthy rhythms of feeding and sleeping to enhance and ensure the baby’s nurture and growth. And similar in the spiritual journey, having that nurture and growth in a rhythm. Thus, in summary, he notes “that Christian journey is an intentional and continual commitment to a lifelong process of growth toward wholeness in Christ. It is a process growing up in every way into him who is the head into Christ, Ephesians 4:15, until we attain to the mature personhood, to the mature measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
So, in practical terms of encouraging leaders in the spiritual journey we have a few different tools. We have the ACCM course on spiritual formation and other courses and Grace Communion Seminary courses. One of our pastors [in Australia] now has graduated from GCS and others are in the process. And John Mclean is running cohorts of the six core courses of ACCM.
And spiritual disciplines can also be studied in connect groups. And my connect group is just preparing to go through Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, which goes through the disciplines. I think these are wonderful tools that we have.
And Foster talks about the inward—this is referring to the privacy of our intimate walk with Jesus, the meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. And then the outward—those things that affect how we interface with the world, the simplicity, solitude, and submission and service. Then the corporate disciplines these are practiced with others in worship, and all of the disciplines culminate in that worship of God because there’s nothing more valuable or worthwhile than a transforming relationship with the God who made us.
And coming together in worship is so encouraging. The disciplines may come in different orders or with different authors, and that’s fine. We are not meant to default to a legalistic posture with them, but they’re meant to draw us into his love and into his grace. And the spiritual disciplines remind us that we’re human beings and not human doings.
God’s concern for us is also about who we are becoming as they help us detach from the hurried busyness of this world. And I think we’re all trying to cope with that. And I love the prayer of Mulholland in relation to working with the inner life. And I’ll just read out the last portion. This is so beautifully expressed. It says,
You wait in infinite patience for me to open my life to your cleansing and healing, liberating, transforming grace. You wait for me to willingly cooperate with your purposes for my wholeness. Help me, oh God, to offer to you the deep inner yieldedness of my being that will enable my spiritual disciplines to become avenues of your grace in me.
I thought that “avenues of grace” is very beautiful.
[00:48:39] Cara: Yes.
[00:48:40] Daphne: Because that’s really from the avenues of grace that can then flow over into our model of the three Avenues for healthy church: faith, hope and love, but really stemming from those avenues of grace. Mulholland too doesn’t stop with the personal disciplines but notes the imperative of the corporate spirituality.
And we ask the question why? And that is because we’re on a spiritual pilgrimage together in the church, the body of Christ. It’s a collective.
He gives a wonderful story of Dwight Moody. And Dwight was sitting or visiting with the man on a cold winter’s day, and they ushered into a nice, warm sitting room with a blazing fire on the hearth. And after some chat, the man began to argue that it was possible for a person to be a Christian without participating in the life of the church.
Moody remained silent, but he leaned forward in his chair, grabbed the poker, and pulled out one of the burning coals. He left the burning coal by itself on the hearth. Slowly the coal dimmed and died out. After a long pause, the man conceded. “Mr. Moody, you have made your point, because that one coal by itself burnt out and became cold.”
But I think that’s a great segway into the topic of healthy rhythms of corporate leadership. Then firstly is the corporate worship, that coming together for weekly worship services. We have the rhythms found in the Christian worship calendar, which also keep us focused and centered on the life of Jesus. And then we have the RCL, which provides scriptures and readings that keep us in those seasonal patterns and coming together for those celebrations.
It’s a great time of joy and fellowship, and I think that’s a beautiful strength of our church. We love coming together and we love the fellowship. And in terms of the corporate rhythms our president Dr. Greg Williams has provided the GCI 3-year plan towards Healthy Church, which came out in February 2022.
So that’s another rhythm for us to be working on during those three years. And that 3-year plan sets out the plan and action for Healthy Church, healthy leaders, Team based – Pastor led, and the implementation of the three Avenues, the Faith, Hope, and Love. And so, these are three great expressions of who Jesus is and the formation of vision or for our focus churches.
So, our pastors are encouraged to hold those regular pastoral team meetings to be collaborative and encourage ideas and input and to have that excitement about our vision. One of our church areas holds two pastoral team retreats each year for the development of Avenue leaders is ongoing.
Coaching, we have on a regular basis that’s been implemented. And monthly pastoral Zoom meetings, as I mentioned before, are held for the training and fellowship of our pastors. And then we’re encouraged to utilize the 4 Es, which are an amazing tool or a set of principles for any setting.
So, I think we are blessed to have so many tools, and to have the Christian calendar and to have those spiritual formation rhythms, as well, that keep us close to God and keep us focused really on the important things to really promote that healthy inner life from which everything else flows with Jesus Christ in us.
[00:52:23] Cara: Thank you Daphne, for that final encouragement, but I’m not finished with you just yet. Okay. We have on GC Podcast, our tradition is our last segment is a fun rapid fire question segment. So, I have a couple random fun questions for you, and you can answer the first thing that comes to mind.
Are you ready for that? So, the first question is, what’s something that brings you childlike joy?
[00:53:04] Daphne: Just spending time with the family, with my daughters, with my grandson. He is so much fun because we can do the artwork together. We pick up pencils and coloring, making rainbows.
It’s just a childlike enjoyment that I can have with my family and with the dogs.
[00:53:25] Cara: Yes. I love that. Yeah. Okay. What’s the best phrase or piece of slang people in your hometown use?
[00:53:36] Daphne: Australian slang. Oh, we have so many slang words. Maybe one of them I like is, “Good on ya, mate.”
That’s a form of encouragement. Good on ya, mate. Okay.
[00:53:52] Cara: Okay. I like it.
[00:53:53] Daphne: Maybe I should slow it down. It’s good on you, mate, but we say Good on ya.
[00:54:00] Cara: Good on you, mate. Yeah, I like that. That feels encouraging. Yeah. Good.
[00:54:05] Daphne: Good on you, Cara.
[00:54:08] Cara: Oh, thanks, Daphne. All right. If you’re going to a potluck, what is your favorite dish to bring?
[00:54:18] Daphne: One to bring that I cook myself, or one that I’d like to enjoy there? Okay. One that I remember very much from the Philippines is chicken adobo. Oh, I love that. It’s not that I’m very good at cooking that myself, but if that’s there as part of the potluck, I’ll certainly go for chicken adobo. I still remember the beautiful dishes from the Philippines.
[00:54:45] Cara: I’m with you on that one. All right. In your city, what is your number one recommendation for activities or places to visit, things to do?
[00:54:59] Daphne: The Gold Coast is considered a city, and we’ve got beautiful beaches here. So, the high rises are along the beaches.
So, you can stay in one of the high-rise apartments. In the morning, you can just draw the curtains and look at this beautiful ocean with a beautiful white sand. And if you like surfing, you can surf. If you just like to walk on the beach’s beautiful sand. If you like to build sandcastles, it’s all there.
And then best of all, we have good coffee, so you can go enjoy coffee shops, or the lovely places also for meals. But yeah, the Gold Coast is known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed lifestyle, in terms of being able to go surfing or living near the water. But mostly that’s the tourists that enjoy that.
Another beautiful thing is too, during the season you can go to some parts and overlook or go out in a boat and see the whales coming up as they’re migrating. That’s a beautiful, awesome thing to watch too, is the whales have their little calves with them. It’s a wonderful site.
[00:56:13] Cara: Oh, wow. Oh, that does sound really fun.
[00:56:16] Daphne: Yeah. You’ll have to come to visit, Cara.
[00:56:19] Cara: It’s settled. Yeah. I like a nice beach coffee and some animal sightings.
Alright, Daphne, the last question I have for you. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would you go?
[00:56:43] Daphne: Ooh, that’s a hard one, Cara, because we’ve been blessed to have lived in India and the Philippines and around New Zealand, and I’ve visited Fiji. So, any of those countries, I could easily spend one year in because there’s so interesting and such variety of cultures and foods. And we have many fond memories of our time in India with the brethren there, with the beautiful sarees and the beautiful hot curries, and our wonderful time in the Philippines and our visits to Fiji and Solomons and …
Oh, Cara, I have to pick one. It would be very hard, really for me to just choose one.
[00:57:26] Cara: You can hop all around for the year. Okay. As they all sound like wonderful places. I can understand why you have a hard time choosing.
Daphne, thank you so much for your time today. This was a wonderful conversation.
You brought some really incredible insights, some encouragement, and even some challenging words for us and our listeners. So, I thank you so much for just the time that you’ve spent today with us and for all of your thoughts that you’ve shared on healthy leadership. It has been an incredible blessing to hear from you today.
It is our practice with the GC Podcast to end our show with prayer. And so, I would love, if you’re willing, to ask you to pray for our churches and our pastors, our ministry leaders in GCI.
[00:58:26] Daphne: Thank you so much, Cara. It’s been an absolute privilege to be part of this conversation and I’m very happy to pray for our leaders.
Let’s just pray now as we come before our wonderful Father in heaven.
We just thank you, Lord, so much for the love that you bestow on us and the just the beautiful life, Jesus, that you live, that we can live into you, that we can live into your love and into your grace. Father, we pray this for our leadership and for all of our brethren, Father, our pastors, our leaders, our brethren and listeners, that everyone, Lord, would be encouraged by you, Father, that you are there for us.
You stand with us. You intercede for us, Lord, when we do not even have words to say, Father. And we’ve groaned sometimes in pain or with the loss of loved ones and people who are suffering illnesses, Lord, but we just lift them to you, Father, and we are inspired by Jesus and his life that, he wept, he weeps with us.
He knows us. He empathizes with us, but he doesn’t stop there, Lord. He lifts us up as he was raised up. He raises up our spirits. And I just pray, Lord, that if anyone’s discouraged or hurting in any way, please Lord, lift them up, encourage them and let them talk to people and have friends, Lord.
Friendships are a wonderful thing as well, Father, and we have that with you and with our fellow brethren and we thank you, Lord, so much. We thank you for Cara and for this time together and for the support crew. And just thank you, Lord, so much that you made this possible and we just lift it all to you, Father and just pray for your help and encouragement and your blessing on GCI.
We love this church, Lord. We’ve been brought into it, and we thank you for that. We thank you for the privilege, and we just pray especially for our president, Dr. Greg Williams and Susan and for your blessing over them, Lord, to continue to guide and to lead us and to really bless the leadership, Father, of our church that we can be strong and healthy, we can be a healthy church, and we can be excited, Father, about the vision and what you have for us, what you have in store for us.
And may we be led by your rhythms. Father of love and grace, we thank you so much now in Jesus’ name, amen.
[01:00:58] Cara: Amen. Until next time folks, keep on living and sharing the gospel.
We want to thank you for listening to this episode of the GC Podcast. We hope you have found value in it to become a healthier leader. We would love to hear from you. If you have a suggestion on a topic, or if there is someone who you think we should interview, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, Healthy Churches start with healthy leaders; invest in yourself and your leaders.