Guest Blogger Ps David Connett on Tough Leadership




Billy Ocean was so cool in 1986, he was so confident, cruisy and handsome. At the time I was just 10, sporting a bowl cut, freckles and a pair of bright, scallop cut, hand-me-down shorts. I was not like Billy, he was cool with Cool songs, cool goatee, cool grey suit Billy Ocean.

He sang…. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”

You could easily get lost in how cool it all was and miss the point of the song


NOW 3 decades later I’m middle aged, trying hard to hold onto some semblance of cool and working hard at avoiding the 40 year old senior pastor love-handles. Ecstatically married for 17 years, I’m honoured to serve and lead the amazing bunch of people that call goodlife church home and I’m the father of 3 young men. My middle son is 10 like I was back then and looks too much like his father but all of my young champions are much cooler than I ever could have hoped to be. They have some freckles, but at least there’s no bowl cuts or scallop-cut shorts (although I’m predicting a fashion comeback soon)


Now as an adult I realise how tough my parents were back in Billy’s hey day. My mum nearly died in a massive head on car accident when I was 5, my dad automatically became full-time carer, cleaner, helper and a frustrated raiser of 3 children. Mums daily pain was beyond description, her disability transformed life for all of us, Dad’s frustration simmered, money was tight, the bills stacked up but I was 10, i was riding my bike, bowl cut flowing in the wind, wearing my cool shorts and I was oblivious.

And Billy was singing “I got something to tell you, I got something to say I’m gonna put this dream in motion”

My parents took the hits for me. They struggled to make ends meet for me. They did their best for me and made every opportunity available for me. They made every effort to ensure that their very best could become my starting point to reach even higher in life. They were so tough and at the time and I didn’t even realise.

So Billy kept singing… “Darlin’, I’ll climb any mountain, Darlin’, I’ll do anything”


On top of 18 years living with and learning from my parents, I’ve had 22 more years on the planet, 25 years as a Christian with 20 of those in full time ministry. I’ve served alongside and trained under some of the toughest men and women of faith, learned from the best and still count it an honour to continue as student to many of them. The Tough leaders that not only personally beat the odds but lift up others to reach for greatness never come through the avenue of ease. Most are forged through tests where they desperately find heavens strength in exchange for their frailties. The types that inspire groups of ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things are proven tough through trials despite their desire for ease and comfort. The tough leaders have a few things in common. Ive been blessed to witness and so I now aspire to emulate these attitudes of tough, effective leaders


1. They keep showing up – they are impossible to sway, they are consistent, unshakeable and unswerving in their faith. They’ve seen God come through too many times to doubt, they take the hits and find the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to not just survive but thrive.

2. They keep a sweet sprit – hurt them and they forgive, disappoint them and they’ll turn it into a opportunity for growth. They are able to keep focussed and dedicated despite the lack of accolades because they are doing it for the honour of the King

3. They look for strength, not sympathy – you can’t have both, you must choose. Tough leaders avoid sympathy or excuses, they are looking for answers that require heavens resource and therefore chase after God and His strength with relentless devotion. They know the current obstacle is their opportunity to grow spiritual muscle and so embrace challenges with a smile.

4. Their actions talk loud – Come close to a tough leader and you may notice a quiver in their voice or a nibble on a fingernail and then you’ll see a consistent devotion to the big kind of faith steps indicative of a big dream and a big life.

5. They steward their resources for maximum toughness – time, money, energy and talents are all help for the journey. Tough leaders handle their finances, their sleeping and eating habits, guard their sabbath, and wisely manage resources to avoid crisis and to have enough to not just survive but thrive when testing times come.

6. They invest in others – because they know the state that God found them, and that every step has only been possible with and through Him, they take the time to help others do the same. Their investment in others gathers a team of gradually bigger and stronger giant killers and world beaters

7. People around get tough – Stick around a tough leader and your excuses sound weird and your small thinking seems tiny. Some people just cant handle that feeling and exit stage left. Those that stick around have no option to grow, they become tougher by learning how to tackle external opposition. Internal excuses are inevitably faced, and in turn they grow to inspire others on their path of growth and toughness.


You might be like me in the way that I’m highly unlikely to be anywhere near “Billy Ocean cool”, but we can all set our hearts on a lifetime course of growing as a tough, effective leader. I’m in and I’m doing everything I can to make sure that not just my goodlife team join me but 3 young men who daily look up to me as their Dad. Maybe one day, just like it happened for me, they’ll realize that their parents and mentors paved the way for them to shine and the result was they became tough leaders to make positive change in their generation. If one day they thank me or my gorgeous bride then I’ll be guaranteed to cry like the softy that I get teased for. But when I wipe away the tears and pull myself together I’ll assure them it was my honor to do so and then turn them on a world desperately needing what they’ve got and cheer on the next generation of tough world changers. In the meantime, I’ve got some spiritual muscle to exercise, some insecurity to bury, a city to win, some churches to plant and some tough leaders to unearth, develop and release. And Billy sings one more time “Never let nothing stand in my way When the going gets tough, The tough get going”


Guest Blogger Dave Connett is the host of tough leadership conference, you’re welcome to join Dave and the goodlife team as they host Dave Gilpin – the pioneer and senior pastor of the amazing Hope City Church in UK, Europe, Africa and Asia and Peter Pilt who is the International Director of Global Care after over a decade of tough leadership as the pastor of Nowra City Church.

August 8&9 in Newcastle register online at


Categories: Church related, Leadership

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1 reply

  1. Great post on leadership, Dave Connett! Totally worth reading.

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