Leading is inspiring people to participate with you

Written by on July 16, 2009 in Learning and Volunteering, Notes By The Way with 2 Comments

“Leading is inspiring people to participate with you.”

I wrote this in my notes last month while listening to Sherwood Lingenfelter, Professor of Anthropology and Provost of Fuller Seminary.

I’ve heard and seen many models and definitions of leadership: top down, bottom up, leading from in front (horizontal). I almost skipped this one, but the word “participate” grabbed me. I realized this is what I do, or hope to do, when I bring Japanese to Cambodia.


For those of you who don’t know the background of this post, here’s a quick summary of what we do. I have been taking groups of people from Japan to Cambodia for the past one and a half years. The primary purpose has been to develop the Japanese participants. They go to Cambodia where they share their lives and serve in simple ways. In the process, they have life changing lessons. Currently we’re in our infancy. Our long term purpose is to have a learning/serving community in Japan with some common experiences and values. We hope they will work together with us to support effective Cambodian leaders helping people lift themselves out of extreme poverty and move forward under their own power in the face of great challenges (such as living with HIV).  As I said, we’re still in our infancy, but you can see our current activities at www.globaladventure.jp (in English).

We’ll be starting a non-profit in the USA soon, mainly to help people give money to be used effectively in Cambodia. Let me know if you’d like to participate in that.

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About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • Andy, this is so exciting! I SO wish we were coming back to Japan because we would love to become involved (and have you take control of us and push us away) ha ha.

    Recently, I read The Tangible Kingdom. You might enjoy this book as well. I’m sure the ideas about church/community would be ones that you resonate with. More relevantly, the book espouses a kind of leadership that puts the hierarchical triangle and topples it over on its side (so you have a triangle with the peak pointing to the right).

    The leaders are at the peak leading the community who are following behind. And then every now and then they put on the brakes. The idea is that as the leaders put on the brakes, the rest of the community will, by inertia, continue moving forward and others will be forced into the peak of the triangle and into leadership. Then the cycle begins again until the leaders put the brakes on again, thus encouraging others to take leadership roles.

    Anyway, I can’t explain it as well as they can but I hope you get the idea.

    I’ll be praying for the whole NPO process!

  • Thanks, it’s occurred to me that we might have worked together, but God is good.

    I haven’t read The Tangible Kingdom. Lots of people I know are excited about it, so maybe I’ll order it and have a look.