Some Gold (if you are willing to dig a little)

By John De Boer  |  April 11th

Friends, here is my hook to read further – I have nothing original to offer in this article! This is not a cop out because I have no ideas to share. Rather, I feel fully grateful for three helpful thoughts and tools that have come my way as I think about leadership health and the idea that your health as a leader is good for you, but imperative for your organization. Organizations get healthier when leaders get healthier.

Let me set the table here; I believe all people are leaders in some way. We all lead others, or activities, or ideas in various degrees of participation. Leadership is not a title. It is not earned. It is something beautiful to share – and beautiful things take good, hard, work.

I believe that for each of us, our first leadership challenge is ourselves. We can’t lead others, or activities, or ideas if we don’t lead ourselves (which begins with following Jesus, but I’ll let you make those connections).

So, here are those three helpful tools. You now may decide to dig in for some gold or decide not to ….


Brene Brown says, “The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”

It can be tempting to do our work with some kind of leadership imposter syndrome. If I feel like an imposter and everyone knows I’m an imposter, then I have to compensate with showing how capable I am. This is not the same as being confident in your competence. Feigning strength is not healthy.

Jesus had his 3, his 12, and his 70. Who are your 3? With whom can you be vulnerable, and real, and human? With whom do you share problems or mistakes? Do you have a coach or a mentor?


Here’s one from Steve Brown at Arrow Leadership. Make a nine square like in tic-tac-toe. In each box, write words or phrases that describe you at your best in your work. These should summarize your top strengths, passions, gifts, and working environment. Here is the key – we are at our best when we focus on our “I am”s. We get drained when we focus on our “I am not”s.

Have you ever lingered too long in your own mind, heart, and soul on your I am nots? Has the enemy spoken words of deception into your mind? The irony is that honest vulnerability may lead me to the I am nots, but it is that same vulnerability that points me to God and His love. Healthy leadership means living and working out of my I ams (humility) and not out of my I am nots (pride).


I just listened to Arthur Brooks (Harvard Business School) speaking at the Trinity Forum. He calls himself a happiness specialist. He names the idols that impede happiness (the false gods) and shows us a better way – the way of Godly love. His insights on happiness, success and true Godly living are not to be missed. I encourage you to watch the video of Dr. Brooks at the Trinity Forum and read this related article.

Leadership is a beautiful thing – worthy of good work and nourishment. Know that the Edvance team is fully interested in and committed to your leadership health. Want to talk more? Have a question? Consider reaching out to your Cohort Leader.


As Arthur Brooks says, “use things (like this gold), love people, and worship the divine.”

Be well. Be healthy. Be loved.


John DeBoer is the High School Cohort Leader for Edvance, and Principal at King’s Christian Collegiate in Oakville, Ontario.