Chapter 5: Sharing Credit In a Guru-Centered World

Counter-Cultural Leadership in an Asian Context

Leor Sarkar

You need to take three months’ rest.” I stared at my doctor. Three months’ rest? I thought. With my commitments? My schedule? He can’t be serious.

He was speaking with me in his office. I was suffering from an acute case of chicken pox. On top of that, I was dealing with chronic fatigue and problems with my liver.

“Your physical condition has deteriorated significantly. You must rest if you hope to regain your health. In fact, here is my prescription.” He handed me a piece of paper. On the paper, written in all capital letters, was:


While I did not take his advice at that time, he was right. I was on a road that would only lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual ruin. If I was to survive—much less thrive—I had to find a new way to live. But that would be easier said than done.

At the time, I had been General Secretary and CEO at Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship for 12 years. At age 30, I had been chosen to bring BBCF out of a deep hole, and had done so. I was deeply involved in leading and growing the ministry of my denomination. We had enjoyed many successes, for which I had received all of the credit. I also served on the boards of four major national ministries. I enjoyed a position of great prestige in my country—while also shouldering great responsibilities.

Getting free from the whirlwind of my life would take more than a few cosmetic changes. It would require a rethinking of who I was, how I lived, and how I led. And it would lead to me make changes that would run counter to powerful cultural patterns and traditions of my country.


I WAS BORN AND raised in Bangladesh. Ours is a culture that promotes and honors the guru model of leadership. A strong person at the top holds great power. When successes are achieved, the guru gets all the credit. At the same time, it is expected of a guru to do everything on his or her own. With great power comes great obligation.

My upbringing prepared me to take on …

About the Author

LEOR P. SARKAR is general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship as well as co-national director of A3 Bangladesh. He lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh with his wife Panna, daughter Prachi, and son Propat.

Watch Leor’s related video clip: 05.1: “Sharing Credit In a Guru-Centered World”

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