Imagine picking up your car from the shop after a routine tune-up.  The technician says, “Your car is in great shape. You do a great job in maintaining it.”

On your way home the brakes fail.  You discover there is no brake fluid.

Now, how do you feel?

You go to the shop, find the technician, and say, “Why didn’t you tell me there was no brake fluid in the car?” And the technician says, “Well, I didn’t want you to feel bad. I was afraid you would get upset with me and I want us to be friends.”

Just how furious would you be?

Would you say something like, “I don’t come here for a fantasy-based ego boost! I come to have my car maintained.  When it comes to my car, I want the truth.”

Imagine going to the doctor for your annual check-up. At the end of the examination, the doctor says, “You are in great shape. You have the body of an Olympian. Keep up the good work.”

Later that day, while climbing the stairs, your heart gives out. Tests show clogged arteries.

You go back to the doctor and say, “Why didn’t you tell me about my condition?” The doctor says, “Well, I did see that you were one jelly doughnut away from the grim reaper, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.  I didn’t want any problems between the two of us. What if you started liking another doctor?”

Now, what would you say? “I don’t come here to be pacified about my health. When it comes to my heart, I want the truth!”

When what gets in the way becomes the way transforming misssion

The Truth of Courageous Leadership

When something matters to us, we don’t want a false comfort based on pain avoidance. We want the truth. In any discussion of leadership, we if we are to build trust, we must deal with the risk of honesty and the gift of clarity. Truth-telling in the church is about courageous leadership. Specifically, it’s about embracing the skill of vulnerability.

Being a courageous leader is hard work. No one is writing hymns that sing, “Amazing truth, how sweet the sound.”  As a leader, the closer the relationship, the harder the truth. In every one of us, there is the feeling that we do not want to hurt those who mean so much to us.  That’s why so many leaders, in their relationships, run into the “Jack Nicholson theology.”

You Can’t Handle the Truth

Remember Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men?”  Remember that famous scene near the end? It’s the one scene that even people who never saw the movie know. Nicholson’s a marine officer on the witness stand.  He is angry.  Out of his anger he shouts, “Do you really want to know what happened?”

Tom Cruise says, “I want the truth!”

Nicholson shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!”

A lot of leaders run on Jack Nicholson theology. We act like people can’t handle the truth. We don’t want to hurt others and we don’t want others to hurt us. Since when did caring for people and truth become divergent paths? When we give up our role as a leader for the sake of not hurting feelings, or being liked, or for keeping things peaceful, even our silence speaks loudly.

What Gets in the Way of Courageous Leadership

The question is, “What gets in the way of you being a courageous leader?  We have learned that what get in the way usually becomes the way. We abdicate our role as a leader, contributing to establishing a church culture that becomes a barrier to disciple-making.

After reflecting on the work Brené Brown has done around courageous, daring leadership, we had to ask ourselves the question: What behavior and church cultural norms stand in the way of courageous leadership?

We need courage to focus on our mission of disciple-making. Do any of the following behaviors and church culture sound familiar? Do any of these behaviors stand in the way of your courageous leadership? Because what stands in the way, often becomes the way.

13 Behaviors that Get in the Way

  1. Do you avoid tough conversations?
  2. Are you being nice and polite in the place of being truthful and compassionate?
  3. Do you say one thing to the pastor’s face and another to your friend?
  4. Are you undermining the leadership of the church by gossiping or by making up what you do not know and passing it off as truth?
  5. Do you avoid talking about Jesus or the mission of the church because you don’t want to offend people?
  6. Do you participate in parking lot meetings? The meetings that take place after the meeting where you agreed with the decisions but outside the meeting you disagree?
  7. Do you fail to acknowledge your fears and feelings in regard to change in the church? Changes like a change of pastors or sharing a pastor or having fewer people capable to serve and to give.
  8. Does your church lack connection to the community? Are you no longer vulnerable? Do you avoid relationships with people in the church because you were hurt by someone or offended by someone in the past?
  9. Are you afraid of failure? Do you fear looking stupid or saying something wrong about situations, relationships, or opportunities in the church?
  10. Do you explain away or ignore external criticism? Have you ignored or rationalized the ministry environment and the current cultural situation inside and outside the church?
  11. Has denial and blame of others taken priority over examining your soul?
  12. Are there needed changes that no one is willing to make? Are there untouchable areas and unspeakable issues that are debilitating but are declared to be “off limits” from critique or discussion?
  13. Do people have a sense of hopelessness? Is there talk about tomorrow with any sense of clarity or excitement, or has nostalgia for an unreturning yesterday replaced the stepping into the future?

What’s the Solution?

There are no quick fixes or easy solutions to the complexities of the behaviors and cultural norms we just named. But one of the ways to address these behaviors is to develop our skills as brave and courageous leaders.

And that starts with learning the skill of vulnerability. If we want to share the truth, we’re going to need to practice the skill of vulnerability.

We can’t lead with courage without embracing vulnerability. No, we’re not talking vulnerability for vulnerability’s sake. What we’re talking about is relational vulnerability.

Here’s how Brené Brown describes vulnerability from her decades of research, “Vulnerability is the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

Disciple-making necessitates vulnerability. Without vulnerability, there is no connection with people, let alone a connection with Jesus. To love is to be vulnerable. If we love God and are going to love our neighbors, we are going to be vulnerable. From the place of vulnerability, we can learn not only to tell the truth with compassion but to ask for what we need.

when what gets in the way becomes the way transforming missoin

An Invitation to Practice

We know practicing courageous leadership means sometimes we will fall, sometimes we will fail. But we also know, “our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability.”1 Vulnerability is a skill. It’s a skill we can learn.

It’s time to talk about what’s getting in our way so we can get it out of the way. If you’re willing to go on this journey with us, head over to the LeaderCast Podcast and listen to Episode 050: What Gets in the Way of Disciple-Making? We talk about the 13 cultural norms and behaviors above as well as share an experiment to begin practicing courageous leadership.

In Christ,

Tim Bias and Sara Thomas



  1. Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. , p. 11

As the youngest of three children, my seat in the family car was in a predictable place. My “spot” was the center of the back seat of the car. I ate my knees as we drove to a meal out or to visit family. To make matters worse, my brother and sister were always invading my personal space.

If you have siblings, you likely know what I’m talking about. Siblings have a way of crossing the line of our personal space, testing our patience, and also inviting us to laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother and sister. I credit them for my twisted sense of humor and ability not to take myself too seriously.

But, what I remember most about driving somewhere with my family is that I was never sitting in the “right” place…especially when we were merging on or off the highway. The car would make a horrible noise as we went around the entrance or exit ramp. My Dad would announce from the driver’s seat, “Sara, you’re not sitting in the right spot.”

It wasn’t until I was ten or eleven years old that my siblings FINALLY helped me realize that horrible noise had nothing to do with where I was sitting. That horrible noise was my Dad intentionally driving over rumble strips.

Coaching helps us become who God created us to be Transforming MissionThe Truth About Coaching

At a young age, thanks to my siblings, I learned that what I believed to be true, was actually false.

Whether it was the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, we’ve all believed in something that wasn’t actually true at some point in our lives.

One of the beliefs I encounter as a coach is that coaches tell people what to do. Another is that coaching is punitive. You’ve messed up in some way and you have to be coached. Another is that coaching is prescriptive.

Each of these false beliefs about coaching can stop people from engaging in coaching. May I set a different expectation for you?

Coaching is a customized means of growth and development. It is a privilege to participate in coaching.

As we head into 2019, the fast pace of change in our world and growing anxiety within our denomination is challenging Pastors and local church leaders more every day.

We’re here to walk with you.

The Capitol Area South District is offering CAS Pastors the opportunity to be a part of a coaching cohort between January – May, 2019.

Please review the information below and complete the interest form to get started.

Why Coaching?

When I first received a coach, I thought I was going to be told what to do. Then, when I started coaching, I thought I was going to tell people what to do. Thankfully, both turned out to be unrealistic expectations.

Instead, the coach I work with asks great questions and helps me become who God created me to be. I am grateful for the hundreds of hours of training I received to help me learn what it means to be a coach. The people I coach help me become a better coach, too.

Because I have a coach, I am a better leader, a better pastor, and a better coach to leaders as a result. One of the most intense times of growth and development for me is when I am being coached. I stay focused on the goals I am trying to reach. A coach helps me navigate turbulent waters with more grace than I can alone. I get outside perspectives that help me appreciate a different point of view. And, I always know there is someone cheering me on. I could go on an on. As with anything, coaching yields the results of your investment. Coaches are partners. They inspire you to maximize your potential.

Rumble Strips & Coaching

Rumble strips have taken on new meaning in my life. Those silly rumble strips now grab my attention and invite me to slow down. They keep me within the bounds of the path I am traveling. Interestingly enough, it’s often the same thing that happens in coaching.

I’m grateful that my initial thoughts about coaching were as wrong as my belief that where I sat in the back seat determines the noises the car would make. Coaching is a gift. It is a privilege. Coaching helps us become who God created us to be.

And you don’t need my siblings to tell you that.


About the 5 Month Coaching Cohorts

Deadline to express interest:

November 29, 2018

Expectations for Coaching Cohort Participants

  • Give prayerful consideration to what God wants to accomplish through you in 2019.
  • Participate in one orientation meeting.
  • Show up and fully participate in five, monthly online meetings for 60-75 minutes.
  • Faithfully pursue the actions you commit to during our online meetings.
  • Reach out to your cohort/coach when you encounter roadblocks and celebrations.

What is coaching?

  • Coaching is a customized means of growth and development.
  • It is a privilege. Coaching is a privilege.
  • Coaches partner with coachee(s) in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires coachee(s) to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Coaching is NOT:

  • Punitive
  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Whining or complaining session
  • Prescriptions for your ministry

Why might you want to participate in a Coaching Cohort?

  • Do you have a goal you want to achieve – personally or professionally?
  • You want to continue growing as a leader.
  • You are leading the church in a new direction.
  • The neighborhood is changing and you’re trying to help the congregation navigate the changes.
  • You’re encountering resistance to change.
  • There is a huge turnover in leadership in the local church.
  • You’re leading something new.
  • You want to start a new ministry (or need to end a long-term ministry).
  • You have goals that haven’t been achieved and you want to accomplish them.
  • You’re in a new position.
  • You’re anticipating retirement.
  • Your family is in a new season of life.
  • You need an outside perspective on a specific area of ministry.
  • You are a leader


  • CAS Pastors
    • Your District and Annual Conference Apportionments are covering the normal cost of $150/hour
    • Your time and effort
  • Other Pastors/Leaders

If you are willing to commit to the following, we’d love to talk with you about participating in a Coaching Cohort.

  • Coaching Cohorts will take place between January – May 2019
  • Participate in a cohort coaching group with 3-5 people + Coach
    • One, 2 hour, in person, orientation meeting
    • Five, 60-75 minute, monthly, online video meetings (via Zoom)
  • A desire to grow and lead change. This change may be within the local congregation, leading the congregation into the local community, a team within the church, or your own personal leadership.
  • Let us know you’re interested by completing the interest form



Sara Thomas


Tim Bias

Deadline to express your interest:

Wednesday, November 29, 2018