We see the world through our own lens which is why knowing ourselves is so very important. What parts of
your past trigger reactions in you? Where do you find you are at your best? What is important to you? What
bothers you? If you can articulate these things clearly then you will have more confidence and trust yourself in
difficult situations. Why is this the case? Because when we honestly know ourselves and we join a sense of
humble awareness with a sincere desire to work with others to make a positive impact, we have more
confidence, self-efficacy and an increased willingness to engage – even in difficult situations. In the Bible we
read that God is working through all things for our good (Romans 8:28). If we really believe this, then we will
find peace and a humble confidence even in difficult situations.

How does one get to know oneself? Times of solitude spent reading, creating, walking in nature are all
activities that allow us to get to know ourselves, depending on our frame of mind. If we read material that helps us ask some of the questions mentioned above through exploring the life of another person (fictional or real) or
if we take part in experiences that help us discover what we are good or what matters to us, these will lead to
increased self-knowledge. Flannery O’Connor illustrates the power of narrative saying: “There is something in
us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at
least be offered the change to be restored.” Why does this matter for the adult educator or for someone in a position of leadership? It matters because
both pursuits are about transformation of people – not just their intellectual growth but themselves. Transformation
requires knowing oneself first.

While Wheatley somewhat discounts the role of hope (278-280), Christian Leaders and teachers are indeed
people of hope and optimism who nonetheless realize the importance of Havel’s definition that “Hope is not the
conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it
turns out” (Wheatley, 280). In other words, we need to welcome the reality of whatever learners are bringing to
the learning environment or whatever colleagues and others bring to the work environment and look for the possibilities hidden in it- the possibilities for redemption and restoration. For example, some people may have painful memories of school, a sense of inadequacy or else an
inflated view of themselves. Some may have experienced severe trauma that affects their ability to
process information. Some may have trouble reading or writing to the level we would hope they could
achieve or struggle with organization and other executive functioning skills.  Whatever abilities or challenges people bring, we need
to work with them to make them better human beings and more knowledgeable and skillful because of having
spent time with us as their learning guides and leaders.

Our hope and vision must be rooted in the present. If that present is fraught with difficulties and challenges, the
self-aware teacher leader embraces that reality and moves forward trusting themselves and, for the Christian,
trusting God is working all things for our good. This requires courage – as Wheatley notes it is rooted in ‘coeur’
or heart (279). Courage with heart is needed to face the challenges of handling challenging situations when we
ourselves might not feel equipped. Courage with heart tempered by intellectual humility is needed to transform
lives through education and transformative leadership. Effective educators and leaders are people with a vision for good, with confidence that they
can influence positive change and help facilitate transformation in their learners because they are continually
working on their own self-knowledge and will research the strategies and methods as well as the content that
will be most helpful for people to be successful.


Wheatley, M. (2017).  Who do we choose to be?  Facing reality, claiming leadership, restoring sanity. CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.