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Along the Journey  |  

Leaders Take Responsibility

In the 1960 speech entitled Leadership, Howard Thurman states that leaders must:


               Be a seeker of the truth.

Must seek the truth about himself.

Be willing to take responsibility for his own actions.

Be willing to take responsibility for his reactions.

Seek the truth about his society.[1]


I reflect on Thurman’s words as I consider the value and benefits of a coaching education, all of which I continue to experience as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as clergy.

Coaching education includes deepening understanding and skill-building in maintaining presence, that is, to be fully conscious and present, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident.[2]


To engage others, fully conscious and present—open, flexible, grounded and confident.

To engage others, as a seeker of the truth, about myself.

To engage others, taking responsibility for my own actions and reactions.


This is leading by example, taking responsibility for managing one’s self, attitudes, emotions, actions.

Taking responsibility by affirming and celebrating one’s strengths and gifts, AND naming one’s growing edges.


Taking responsibility enables us to journey with others, co-creating brave and courageous spaces as we connect being with doing, becoming more fully who we were created to be.


And the good news is that we are not alone as we take individual and collective responsibility!

All are made in God’s Image, have value, worth and dignity.

Grace is still sufficient and mercies are still new every morning.

God’s joy remains unspeakable and God’s love is unfailing.

The Spirit transforms our fears, anxieties, prejudices, implicit or unconscious bias, apathy, complacency and cynicism.


What might the impact be in faith communities, if clergy and lay leaders embraced being fully present – open, flexible, grounded and confident?

How might conflict be transformed, healthier boundaries be sustained, promoting healing?

In what ways could mission impact move from charity toward justice?

Could we then value incremental forward movement, even as we strive toward vision with hope?

Celebration and lament would not only take place during certain times of the year.


Are you, are we willing to be fully present?

Focus on impact not intention.

Leaders take responsibility.

Barbara Ann Wilson journeys with people and organizations in linking intellect, passion and practice.  She has extensive training and experience with teams, organizations and systems to increase capacity, transform culture, and create resilient and sustainable opportunities. Connect with Barbara: www.linkedin.com/in/rev-dr-barbara-wilson.



[1] Leadership in A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life. PP. 161-162, 1998.

[2] 2019 Core Competencies, International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Along the Journey