While there are many books I would say have been revolutionary in my walk as a young leader, I’d be hard pressed to find another author who captures the importance of vulnerability as well as Brene Brown in one of her popular books, Daring Greatly. This book challenges what we often think about strong, influential leaders, part of which means being vulnerable.
Many of the world’s media these days say that we, as individuals and believers, should often personify strength and ability. That we should seek strength in our physical and emotional lives, but also in our walk with the Lord. That without strength and similar attributes, we are somehow less than or not completely whole.
For many years, that was my goal, to be better, faster, and stronger than others around me (or at least appear to be all of these things). In this world, that’s what we’re after, right? It is not a goal in our lives as leaders to be “vulnerable.” Imagine hiring someone for a very important job and reading these skills listed on a interviewees resume – problem solving, conflict resolution, time management, and vulnerability. Most of us would never think of something so personal being a professional skill, but Brown presses and says that when we accept and understand the art of being vulnerable in our shame and weaknesses, we become strong and courageous.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Vulnerability means having the courage to be our true, authentic self, unashamed of even the unfavorable parts of ourselves. It means being unashamed of who you are and leading with honest wisdom – even when hesitations arise. It means digging deep into the broken parts of ourselves, facing the scary things instead of hiding from them. That is true courage.
Brown’s lessons on vulnerability can be broken down into three main lessons:
- Vulnerability means strength, not weakness.
- Understand and verbalize your shame to make it go away.
- Others can only become who you are, so be a role model.
As leaders in ministry, it can be much easier to hide the ugly parts of ourselves. It’s easier for us to live from a place of scarcity and fear instead of living as authentic, wholehearted beings. Vulnerability and worthiness, two components of wholeheartedness, lie in stark contrast to scarcity. “Facing uncertainty and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough” is a difficult task for many, especially pioneers in ministry. Similarly, Brown says that when we work from a place of scarcity and push the bad parts of ourselves away, we are pushing the good parts away too.
“Numb the dark and you numb the light.”
By embracing ALL parts of us, we inspire empathy, creativity, and honesty in relationships around us. We are able to process through emotions, and move forward to be more emotionally healthy, self aware individuals. By being an emotionally healthy leader, you can push the people around you in ministry forward to be the best versions of themselves.
This book is raved about in business, leadership, parenting, and many other walks of life. It is applicable for each individual and can remodel how we lead, live, and love others around us. I cannot rave enough of Brown’s Daring Greatly and the challenge she presents us to encourage vulnerability in our daily lives.