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The Disruptive Leader By Andrea Leigh Capuyan

Disrupting Cycles of Captivity

Personal challenges and weaknesses can reinforce dysfunctional and disruptive patterns in an organization. Healthy organizational transformation must begin with personal transformation. Through personal examination, a leader can begin to break cycles of captivity and discover pathways that lead to freedom for everyone in the organization. Often, amid work and ministry, leaders can become so engrossed in mission objectives, organizational culture, and people care that they inadvertently overlook personal transformation.

However, personal transformation is the gateway to enhanced leadership because leaders must confront the deeper issues of their motives, mindset, and heart. A steward leader anchors their attention to their vertical relationship with God. When we attune to God, we reflect who He is – we are changed. This is a crucial element of the steward leader model.

A steward leader expects that God is working to teach and shape them. God doesn’t simply wish to act through them. In Genesis chapter one, humanity’s power is defined by our identity, not by our activity. We are image-bearers of God made in His likeness. We are meant to be formed in His character. This purpose defines our central activity in leading—breaking cycles of captivity and becoming more like Him.


In a recent conversation with another leader, I was reminded how easily we can justify decisions made out of urgency and compulsion. Especially in matters of Christian ministry and the Church, we can feel the demand to act in every moment. We place pressure on ourselves and others, believing we must produce results. You can hear it in how we measure our activities – “we must lead others to Christ,” – forgetting that salvation is the activity of God, not ours. We are overwhelmed by the weight of a “Savior complex” that we can’t fulfill. Instead, we become a barrier. I don’t mean to diminish our ministry efforts.

Complacency has consequences. We are not meant to be disengaged, inactive, or silent. We are meant to do important work.

The cycle of compulsion and urgency is often driven by fear and worry or perhaps by disbelief. We don’t trust that God will act and fear our results won’t please God. I think of the many verses of Scripture that invite us not to stress or worry. I hear God’s assurance. He has not abandoned us. He is not at war with us. There might indeed be an uncertain future or failing results. Still, He is with us.


The fruit He wants to cultivate in me is not hijacked by impulse. It is intentional. It is patient. We invite the Spirit to reveal where we are driven by the “should” and ask the Spirit to reform our mindset – and reset our attention. I am reminded that the Spirit often wants me to slow down and act with wisdom instead of reacting. Moving ahead does not always mean moving deliberately or under His guidance. The Spirit teaches us about our motives. This awareness leads to a transformed mission. One rooted in the values, character, and principles we are called to display, regardless of our circumstances. It shapes our ‘being’ not ‘doing.’ In my experience, I’ve learned that this shift to a character-focused mission brings freedom because I am invited to trust that God is always working.

There are no wasted moments. From this perspective, disappointments and obstacles are not minimized or ignored. They are given proper perspective. Our fear, our drive to act, the burden we feel for others -all of it – we lay before God and sit with Him, grieving what we cannot manifest and confessing that He is in control.


I hate feeling out of control. For many years, I struggled when confronted with limitations. I would become overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness. I felt small, weak, and threatened and became caught in a cycle of contempt. I hated feeling insignificant and lonely, so I became independent and self-sufficient. Then, trapped by shame and pride, I spiraled, misconstruing powerlessness and vulnerability. Often, my inflated ego was simply a mask to hide my helplessness. My self-assurance became the armor I used to fortify my self-doubt. Conquer or else be prepared to be conquered.

The words of the Lord’s prayer tripped me up, breaking this self-deluded cycle. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” caught my attention. Now, I pause and linger over the word – trespass. It is easy to approach this prayer flippantly without contemplating the harm we’ve caused others. We think – “I’ve not lied or stolen. I’m good.” Yet, we are defensive and controlling in our relationships. We micro-manage and steamroll over others. We are self-defiant and self-centered. We trespass and crush other souls. Because we can’t tolerate being out of control, we trample down others – twisting the very nature of God-given authority. With destructive co-dependence, we violate the dignity of other people, robbing them of participation, equality, and partnership.

I learned I can easily trespass simply by violating boundaries and stripping responsibility from others. This exploitation is driven by my need to avoid my insufficiency.

I do not believe God wants me floundering in impotence. Flagellation doesn’t produce humility or dependency. Self-castration is not the solution to our pride. We were not created to abuse others or to be abused by God. So, I return to His prayer. It reminds me that my way forward is to bring God my hunger and need. I get them daily, and I find nourishment and strength. Then, power can flourish, and the cycle of harm is disrupted.


Where do you find yourself today? Are you caught in a cyclone that leaves you feeling defeated and discouraged? Spinning? Trapped? The greatest gift you can offer your family, your team, or your organization is to allow the Spirit to disrupt your goals and set your sights on the work He wants to do in you. God wants to meet you on the path of personal transformation, and freedom is waiting to be found.


Andrea Leigh Capuyan serves on the Center for Steward Leader Studies board and is executive director for the LPC – a local ministry helping individuals impacted by unintended pregnancy, reproductive loss, and post-abortion recovery. Andrea also provides coaching and consultation, assisting others in experiencing abundance as a leader. She is a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) with the Christian Leadership Alliance. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from York University.

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