Not long ago, I introduced a concept to our staff that has shaken me up a little bit. At first it was just a leadership principle, but lately I’ve found it seeping into other parts of my life; like my parenting, my spousing (is that a word?), my friendships…everything. This might seem like a good thing, and I suppose it is, but it’s made things uncomfortable in my already complicated psyche. And so, I share it with you here so I’m not alone.

I call this concept Radiant Leadership. And it stands at the other end of the spectrum from leadership styles like Compliant Leadership. Allow me to define each of these briefly. Compliant Leadership has, you guessed it, a leader. This leader stands in front of followers and tells them where they’re going and how they’re going to get there; while they lead the way. This is pretty standard practice in most classrooms, offices, families, and even friendships. It’s  worked (sort of) for a very long time. It looks something like this:

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The hardest part of this arrangement is it’s dependency on the followers being compliant. They have to actually respond and do what they’re being told they should do. This model hinges entirely on THEM. That makes for frustrating leadership. Have you ever tried to tell a four-year-old to eat their vegetables? How about a disgruntled employee that they need to have a better attitude? You might use every strategy from every book in the parenting or leadership section of Amazon and still find THEY don’t listen.

So what if we flipped the script? Here’s what I mean: instead of depending on THEM, let’s focus more on YOU. In order to do that, we need to change the model all together; this is where Radiant Leadership comes in. It looks like this:

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In this model, the leader is at the center instead of at the front or on top of the proverbial organizational chart. And they function more like a pebble that’s thrown into a pond. Have you ever noticed the monumental effect a small stone can have on a still pond? The ripples it creates often make it all the way back to the shore. The leader (or parent, or friend, or life group leader) in this model focuses on themselves and how they are doing things. They do—as an example—and that doing affects those around them, who affect those around them, and so on and so on and so on.

The truth is, you and I cannot control anyone else, just ourselves. So why not lean into that instead of continue to bang our heads against the wall trying to move others? Let’s just move ourselves. Let’s be the people we want them to be. Instead of constantly telling others what they should do—show them what you do. Lead by example.

Like I said, this is uncomfortable. But I think there is something to it. After all, Jesus spent 3.5 years leading the disciples, and most of what we read in the gospels is Jesus showing his disciples and then explaining. When he said, “Come, follow me,” he didn’t stop there. He also said, “and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Mark 1:17, NLT). He showed them how to do what he wanted them to do. So this week, as you parent, or spouse (again, probably not a verb at all) or work, let’s be like Jesus and be radiant in our leadership.


Have you ever started something and not finished?  Maybe it was improving at a sport or doing well on a project.  Have you had a vision of something you wanted but sold out short on? Maybe your vision was more difficult to attain than you realized, became too time consuming, or a number of other things. I know I have and I settled for less than best for reasons such as these. If I am being honest I think this is true of a lot of us in our walk with God.

I mess up so much and I can be really hard on myself. I also forget stuff like it’s nobody’s business.  (You can ask my friend Sarah, she is always reminding me of things we have going on).  But I’m the worst when it comes to God.  I forget so easily the things he’s done for me, his promises, and the things he teaches.  I lose my vision of him and as a result I lose sight of who I am in him.  Instead I become discouraged and distracted because somewhere along the way I got side tracked and am not where I want to be.

Like a road trip to Disney, I lose the bigger picture and become focused on the wrong things. Things like traffic, being cramped in a car, the many pits stops, detours we have to take because accidents happen, and so on keep getting in the way. I forget that going through the less-than-fun times is worth all the struggle because at the end I will finally be where I want to go.  What I am learning is this: the journey is just as important as the destination.  It’s in the journey process that we learn, grow, and bond with God and others riding with us.  Therefore, just keep swimming. At times you may only be moving inches but at least you are moving towards the goal, you aren’t alone, and that is huge.

I am currently doing a study on Colossians that reminded me of something  Josh talked about Sunday: the key is consistency.  The more I walk with God the more I find this to be true.  This thing called life is a journey.  We will mess up, maybe lose focus, and face road blocks.  But we cannot be lackadaisical in our walk.  We must continue, remain, abide, persist, and press on in the journey because where we end up is more than worth the challenges we face. I leave you with two verses from Colossians that have been a great encouragement to me and I hope for you too.

You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.  As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.  But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. -Colossians 1:21-23

“Let your roots grow down deep into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:7


Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and oldest of her siblings, Grace and JP.  She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.




Have you ever tried to give a cat a bath? Personally, I haven’t but hear it’s pretty difficult to pull off. Most cats don’t like water and will contort their bodies in very unnatural ways just to avoid taking the plunge. It’s not unlike when a cat sees a cucumber (look it up on YouTube – it’s weird). Now, imagine how difficult it would be to give four cats a bath.

If you snuck into my house on any given morning when we have to get our four sons someplace by a certain time, that’s what you’d find – cats, water, chaos. What’s extra insane is that at our house, while the boys are avoiding shoes and backpacks and teeth brushing, they’re also fighting with one another… a lot. So awhile back I sat them down and gave them a new definition for what it meant to be a family; more precisely, I shared with them what it meant to be a team. Here’s the jist of it:

Teammates SACRIFICE for each other.

In other words, there are going to be times when you are called to give something up for a teammate. In the family context, you’ll need to sometimes give up the front seat for your brother who hasn’t had the chance to sit there for a long time. So our goal is the best for the unit, not just for ourselves. 5-year-olds hate this part the most, because they love “mine” and are faced with the possibility of making “mine” “ours.” But again, that’s what it means to be a family.

Teammates SERVE each other.

No, you did not take out those Legos, but will you serve your brother by putting them away for him? Some form of that question shows up every day at our house. Because we value serving our family; our teammates. Here’s why that’s important: because I believe we’re never more like Jesus than when we serve someone else. And I want my boys to be like Jesus, so I lean into the ever-present sibling group around them as the practice field for their future. And serving can’t be done begrudgingly, because that’s not the same thing. We want to serve our brother because we love them and this is a great way to express that love.

Teammates SUPPORT each other.

We always have each other’s backs. Always. Throw in any cliche you like here (like blood is thicker than water) and I use it with my boys. You might pick on your brother but nobody else does. You stick up for them and defend them. You are your teammates’ (and family’s) biggest cheerleader in whatever it is they’re doing.

I’m sure by now you caught that all three start with an “S.” So in our house we call them “The 3 S-es of a Team.” It might sound cliche and cheesy, but it’s helped us be a little more consistent and while the cats still don’t want to get in the water, they’re at least working together to avoid it.


After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.