Daniela Hogger - From Student to Teacher

Tell us a bit about yourself...


I grew up skipping over the Austrian/ Bavarian Alps singing ‘The Hills are alive’. Well not quite, but the Sound of Music countryside is truly where I spent my childhood, youth and early adult years. In this idyllic setting I developed a strong passion for music and worship and started out learning the flute which I later exchanged for the guitar and almost constant use of my vocal cords. 


At the age of 23 I decided I was ready for a big of adventure and moved to London with one suitcase and my guitar not knowing the amazing plans that were to unfold in the years to come.

I love being creative and writing and had the best time recording my first EP and releasing it in January 2015.

Having been a student on the first intake of the Worship Central Academy myself in 2011/2012 I am now one of the worship leaders on staff here at HTB heading up this course training up young leaders and releasing them into local churches around the globe.


Leadership means…


1.    Responsibility

Being in a position of leadership comes with great responsibility. I often think of the verse in Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”. The ultimate biggest gift we have all received is Jesus himself and the extra grace on top of that are the gifts and talents we have to share the good news with the world around us. Faithfulness is key, as mother Theresa said: “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.”


2.    Leading by example


Leading others also means leading by example. One of the areas I found hugely challenging is modeling how to rest well, yet I do believe that herein lies the secret to whether we will be in it for the long haul or burn out along the way.

The world around us, especially this generation, is addicted to being busy. Distractions are our constant enemy whilst trying to keep our attention on Jesus.

“The inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failure of mankind” – and how right Walter Bagehot is with this quote. How often have we missed out on the promise to truly know God by being still? Yet Psalm 46:10 reminds us of this incredible promise.

I often wonder how many miracles or breakthroughs we have missed because we haven’t stopped to rest and listen and our hands were full with doing things, sometimes even for God instead of pausing to listen what he has to say and emptying our hands for what he wants to give us.


3.    Raising up others


Leadership at its best never ends with me and you. One of my biggest joys is seeing young worship leaders here on the Worship Central Academy grow and develop throughout the year and to be able to speak into their lives, to encourage, challenge but most above all love these young leaders and pastor them on the basis of great relationships.


Joyce Meyer said that “Potential is a priceless treasure like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out”.  

I believe God has placed people around us to see the hidden potential in us and to call it out.



Personal Investment


My pastor back in Germany was passionate about releasing young people into the worship team and so I started out playing the flute around the age of 10, which I’m sure didn’t always sound brilliantly. Releasing starts at the point of seeing potential not perfection, and he modelled that so well.


Others also have invested in me by simply being available and by listening, truly listening to what I had to say. Sometimes those 10/15 minute conversations with people and leaders you really trust can be wonderful keys in navigating your life.


One of the most important things about investing in others is constructive feedback. The Worship Central Academy was really a key part for me in that. If we love others we truly want to see them grow and we will honestly communicate specific areas they can improve in. And if we truly want to grow we will embrace feedback and make it one our best friends in this leadership journey.



Looking up to others


My mum is a huge inspiration to me. We’ve been through quite a difficult time as a family and seeing her cling to God in the way she did opened my eyes even more to the strong woman of faith she is. She taught me a lot about making God your no 1 and trusting him no matter what.


In general I find people hugely inspiring who seem to have a raw and honest relationship with God and whose prayers are reflecting this. I often think that God saw David as a man after his own heart because David always spoke his heart. We see this beautifully portrayed in the psalms. God can handle all our emotions and he wants us to be real with him. I want to see more of this in my own prayer life and the songs I write.


My investment in others


As mentioned part of my role here at HTB is heading up the Worship Central Academy. Emerging worship leaders with a sense of calling to pastor worship teams in the future come and spend a year with us being trained in leadership, theology and worship and all of that is outworked practically in placement church setting.


Investing in people through mentoring, one-on-one catch ups and teaching the whole class are a few of the layers of investment I get to be a part of. I love helping students identify the reality of where they are currently at and helping them setting goals of where they want to get to. One of the things I love to grow in these young leaders is the ability to lead themselves better. Self-leadership is key in knowing who you are and who you want to become and how to get there.


I also love praying for people and seeing God minister to them by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is so key to investing in other people as they can often create significant moments for God to speak into their lives.


Dani is a worship leader at HTB and will also be leading worship at Run Alpha 16.

To Book on to Run Alpha 16 click here.

Harriet Cheema-Grubb - Seeking God's Perspective

Tell us a bit about yourself… 

 I split my time between London, where I’ve grown up, and Durham, where I’m studying for a degree in Modern Languages. I love to travel and meet new people - studying languages affords me the wonderful opportunity to spend next year working and studying in Austria and Italy, which I’m very excited about!

Alongside my degree I fence for Durham, pursue art history, literary and photography interests, and I’m part of the university Christian Union. I love relationships because I think they can be such a reflection of the Father’s love for us, and I’m passionate about seeing my fellow students come to know Jesus. Last year, myself and another student organised a carol service in Durham’s thousand year old cathedral where 2500 students heard the good news. Over the last seven months I’ve been part of organising ‘Story’ - a week of events hosted by the CU. This year we’re doing it a little differently than it’s been done in the past, and inviting students to explore the Christian story by asking them ‘what’s your story?’. I’m running the social media campaign and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

What does it mean to you, to be a leader/influencer?

They’re almost two different things. You can be a visible leader and have influence, but each one of us is an influencer - even if we’re not ‘leaders’. We have spheres of influence, mission fields, areas where we can shape the atmosphere with how we speak and act. We are each surrounded by people who - whether we know it or not - are impacted by the way we carry ourselves, and that to me is being an influencer - recognising that and wanting to effect change in environments I find myself in, by constantly modelling myself on Christ, living out of His love for me and for every person I meet.

The Bible beautifully encapsulates what it really means to be a leader. Jesus came as the most powerful and revolutionary portrayal of leadership ‘not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45). Being a leader means being humble, and not merely being willing to serve but desiring only to do so; embracing your weakness because in doing so you embrace His strength.

A year or so ago I was challenged by how much I conformed to society’s view of leadership - that is, the ideal of having some kind of position or platform and the power that accompanies it. Matthew 5:14-16 says ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’  I love that final sentence because it captures what it really looks like to lead, or be an influencer, for Christ - yes, being a city set on a hill for all to see. But that everyone who sees you and knows you is pointed straight to Him. Often we get enchanted by leadership opportunities and the chance to shine for ourselves, but in truth I don’t want to ever be leading someone anywhere but Jesus, because He alone sustains me and is my joy and my salvation - I’m nowhere near perfect but He is! So, being a leader is using my voice for God’s glory and not my own.

How have others invested into you?


People have invested in me by creating opportunities in my life. My parents, teachers, family and friends have all in turn opened doors to enable me to study, travel, experience ministries and explore many different interests. I’m so thankful for the experiences that I’ve consequently had that by God’s grace have shaped who I am and the enthusiasm I have for so many things today.


Who would you say you look up to and why?


A great number of people! If I chose three they would be:

My parents - earlier I said that leadership to me meant being humble, and I have never met anyone so humble before God in positions of authority and influence than my parents. They exemplify what it looks like to live lives of integrity and selflessness - my mother in the courts and my father in the arts and ministry, and as the parent who stayed at home as my siblings and I were growing up. Both my parents have during their lives given so much for others and, supremely, God. Before I was born they led a church and ran a halfway house in Soho, London. Prostitutes, rent boys and drug addicts that they took in are now leading churches. What a story of grace!


Heidi Baker - the little daughter in the dirt whose constant, utter reliance on the Father I admire and aspire to emulate.


C.T. Studd - my great-great-grandfather and founder of the Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade. He went from being a student at Cambridge - my age - to the mission fields of China, India and later Africa, forsaking family fortune and England cricketing fame. He said, ‘Before the world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts’. Whenever I read his writings I’m both challenged and encouraged, and rightly so; his life was that of a man so trusting in God that he gave up all for Him, and in turn saw the transformative power of Christ in magnificence across the world - and still today, through his ministry.

‘If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.’


How do you invest in others?


I live in a house in Durham with three other Christians and from the outset we felt called to make our house one of refuge and restoration. We host church small groups, prayer meetings and are hoping to turn our shed into a prayer space. Over the last few months, we’ve seen people healed and situations in people’s lives transformed - none of it the work of us ourselves but of God working through us, just through our welcoming everyone into our home and spending time with them. That’s what investing in others looks like to me; showing absolutely that everyone is valued and endlessly precious to God - I think encouraging someone to understand the truth of their secure identity in Christ because of His absolute love for them is the most powerful way you can invest in anyone.


I would say, also, that investing in others doesn’t always involve a huge commitment - particularly in the uni world, where students are focused on getting grades and often on their outward appearance to others, it can be as simple as meeting someone once a fortnight to spend time listening to what’s going on in their life to talking and praying with them. This year I’m seeking to have God’s perspective - trying to always look with His eyes, and love with His heart - and that means that whenever I see someone and spend time with them, I want them to come away seeing themselves more in the way He does; loving themselves because He does.



Harriet is currently involved in organising Story Durham, a week of events giving Durham students the opportunity to explore stories of life and the Christian faith hosted by Durham CU. Harriet will also be speaking at Run Alpha 16.

To Book on to Run Alpha 16 click here.

Anna Nguyen - Investing in Others

Tell us a bit about yourself...


I am 28 years old, British South East Asian, which means a combo of pancakes dipped in fish sauce. I'm here because my parent's little fishing smack drifted to London after a heroic escape from the Vietnam War.


I have always had a strong love for the Theatre since I was a young girl and went on to fiercely pursue a career in it. It all really began after my training at Drama school, where I quickly discovered that in order to survive being an artist in London I had to live in disused buildings as a legal guardian. Two and a half years of running up three flights of stairs to go to the loo and no central heating enabled me to give birth to my own Theatre Company 'Trikhon Theatre'. A lot of the work I now do is connected to the refugee story and community support. 


By 2012 I was living in a closed down museum in Old Kent Road, I joined my first Alpha course in the winter and ten weeks later of braving the ice on my little push bike - I met Jesus.



What does it mean to you, to be a leader/influencer?


To be willing to listen first. To be patient. To be consistent. To be accessible. 


As a Theatre Director I am not necessarily looking for the brightest and most talented Actor to walk through my doors, I am looking for someone that has the potential and is open and trainable. I enjoy nurturing others and helping them to utilize their hidden strengths. My hope always is that they are able to transfer their skills to where ever they go next. The technique that I use to work with my Actors in the rehearsal room is called the ‘Actor centered’ method, which means as a Director it is my job to discover and draw upon what makes the individual completely unique and empower them through it. I would say this technique is applicable in any circumstance. It forces the Director or the leader to abandon their ego at the door, put down their predetermined ideas and work entirely with what is in front of them - the individual.     


I believe a good leader is always looking to replace themselves. 



How have others invested into you?


Kristine Landon-Smith, a sensational Theatre Director who nurtured me as a young Director on a bespoke training program. She provided me with continuous opportunities to develop my practice through one to one training, mentor-ship and professional experience. She generously gave me her time, was accessible and made sure that the training was affordable if not free. On several occasions she offered me subsidized rates and bursaries. I would have never been the Director I am today without her investment in me. 


Secondly is my shepherd Sophina Tsiang, who has invested in me immensely. We met this year in the summer during a turbulent season of my life and she became like a spiritual mum to me. We walked closely together and despite her busy schedule at work she always made time for me if and when I needed it. Her careful discipleship has seen me mature rapidly in my faith, that otherwise would have not been possible on my own. Her consistency, her accountability and accessible nature has played a huge part in helping me to see breakthrough this year.


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Who would you say you look up to and why?

In the theatre world I'd say I look up to Kristine Landon-Smith, she's an exceptional Director and I admire the way she works. She has a great presence, holds a room well and leads a team confidently. Her instructions are clear, simple and applicable. She is sharp, thorough and direct, the kind of energy I appreciate and respond well to.   

In the Kingdom it would have to be Joyce Meyer. Another very similar character to Kristine, a very strong and nurturing woman. Her victory in her abusive background speaks volumes to me, as I also grew up in an abusive background; the Vietnam War was over, but it was still so present in my house growing up. I feel strangely connected to Joyce; when she talks I feel like the same person. Most of her struggles and character defects are identical to mine, and the way she thinks and approaches situations is scarily similar to me. Her over coming has been a real inspiration and it would be a dream to meet her one day face to face.

How do you invest in others?

As God has so graciously blessed our theatre company, we feel fortunate enough to offer help and support to others. On every major production we offer observatory places to new directors. The position includes a mentorship, regular feedback sessions and a chance for the individual to participate creatively in the rehearsal process. We also try to take on young actors that have not yet received industry training, to offer them the chance to be nurtured and perform professionally with Trikhon. We always try to continue our investment in these individuals and offer a ladder of opportunity for future jobs and productions. This observatory scheme was inspired by Kristine Landon Smith, who offered me the same level of nurture as a young Director.


Anna Nguyen is a British Vietnamese artist and theatre director and co-founder of Trikhon Theatre  (www.trikhontheatre.com).

To Book on to Run Alpha 16 click here.

Georgi Sheaf - A Journey of Leadership

Tell us a bit about yourself…


At the moment I’m living in London and working for Alpha International. I co-ordinate what we do with youth and students globally and how we develop what we do with students in the UK. I really enjoy this role as it’s all about strategy and development and you get to see how the big picture affects ‘the one’ locally. Understanding and getting to know other cultures fascinates me, I love thinking globally when it comes to how to spread the gospel!

I also recently co-founded the Women in Leadership Network: London. WLN exists to inspire and equip women to lead excellently in their sphere. Previous to living in London I lived in Sydney, Australia studying theology and leadership at Hillsong Church.

In my time off I’m doing stuff for WLN!! If not that, I’m a total shopping-addict, love long brunches chatting with the girls and just creating genuine community over GREAT food with some of my closest friends.


What does it mean to you, to be a leader/influencer?


I think the type of leader that’s always resonated with me is one who’s desire to see change trumps their desire for comfort or popularity. I think that’s where leadership begins when you’re willing to stick your head above the parapet and say ‘this is what I believe in’ even if it will cost you status, popularity or security. I was watching the recent Suffragette movie where women gave their safety, their marriages even their lives for something they believed in. The result was that while at first they received shame and abuse from those around them they eventually lead 1000s of women to freedom and changed the world as a result.

My experience of leadership has little to compare to these amazing women but throughout my life I have often found myself in situations, much to my frustration sometimes, where I’ve had to choose to be different and challenge the status quo at the loss of ‘fitting in’. However I have found that what might at first cost you a lot will often lead to even greater respect and esteem from people later on. I think leadership is tough but also the greatest privilege, I don’t take it lightly.



How have others invested into you?


I think people have mainly invested in me through mentoring. Since I was about 14 I have had the most incredible mentors and it’s added incredible value to my life and leadership. I’m so grateful and so challenged to keep investing in others. Finding a good mentor is tough but when you find the right person it’s the best investment you can make in yourself.


Who would you say you look up to and why?


I look up to people who are kind, have a strong heart and are determined to live life to it’s fullest. People who have overcome adversity and become better for it, who carry themselves with grace and dignity inspite of difficulty. I think that’s rare and it makes me just want to be around them and learn from them.


What opportunities do you see for young people these days?


I think the opportunities are endless for most young people in the UK. The reality is that our generation is more likely to listen to their peer than their politician. Celebrity can be achieved through a well-curated Instagram feed or Youtube channel and knowledge and understanding is available through a few clicks of a mouse. I think globalization means that influencing way beyond your natural sphere is more accessible than ever before. That gives us all an incredible opportunity to influence a lot of people. I think the challenge is what motivation your going to do it from and what you’ll lead them to. If a whole generation of young people took all that’s in their hands and attached it to Kingdom purpose there’s a lot of good that could be done. I hope that we leverage this opportunity and use all we have to bring greater truth and light into the world for the sake of Jesus Christ.


How do you invest in others?


I always try to make myself available to mentor others if I happen to have something to offer. At the moment I have some girls in their early 20s who I catch up with. I think investing in others is just an attitude to giveaway what you’ve learnt and encourage, you can do that every day if you so choose.


Georgi Sheaf is Co-Founder of Women in Leadership Network London and is Alpha Youth and Student Global Co-ordinator and will be speaking at Run Alpha 16.

Click here to book now.

Pete Wynter - Establishing a Leader Rich Environment

The adverts are flooding our screens, the trees are going up and the countdown to Christmas has begun. If you want to feel 'Christmassy', the environment has got to be just right. In our house the Christmas tunes are already playing, and there are more candles glowing than at any other time of the year! I know it's still November, and I'm risking my family with Christmas fatigue, but this time of year is my favourite and I do everything I can to embrace it and help the people around me to gather momentum as the Christmas season moves into full swing!

I wonder what kind of environment you are seeking to establish? The environment we create makes a huge difference. It sets the tone, reveals the intention and communicates the level of expectation. Sometimes we create it intentionally; often we create it without even realising what we have done.

Environment stretches way beyond the physical, it’s much more than lights, music and smoke machines! It's a conceptual thing as well, particularly when we begin to consider leadership. I wonder if the environment you create is an effective space for raising up leaders? The clearer we become about how to do that, the more effective we become at developing a leader-rich culture. You can deliver brilliant leadership training, improve people's competencies, give them examples of great leadership, but if the environment is wrong then it will count for very little. It's like planting an acorn but never giving it the water and light it needs to grow.


So what are the environmental 'must haves' for seeing leaders raised up? You'll know some for your own context, but here are three essentials to kick-start the process:


1: Safety

In our cotton wool society where health and safety has made things dangerously risk averse, I can almost hear your sighs of agony at the suggestion that safety is an important environmental factor, but sadly we don't give it enough credit in the leadership world. When people feel safe they become more open and ready to try new things. I'm more likely to jump out of a plane if I've got Bear Grylls strapped to me, why? Because I feel increased safety. I trust him. If we want to raise up leaders we have to ask a tough question: do people feel safe around my leadership? If they do, then they are more likely to follow, more likely to learn and more likely to make the big jump into becoming an effective leader in their own right.


2: Encouragement

Being given the gift of courage to have a go is the first step in every leader’s story. If you want to raise leaders you must set your heart, words, tone and body language to communicate encouragement at every turn. If people around you know that their faltering efforts will be met with a warm smile then they won't be put off by the pressures and responsibilities that they think go hand in hand with leadership. Every renowned multiplier of leaders that I've had the privilege of meeting scores highly on the scale of encouragement.


3: Awakening belief

We all get weighed down by the day in, day out realities of life, but every now and again someone spots something in us and sparks the belief that we are more than we have presently become. Of course we are, but we forget that all the time. As part of your encouragement, tell people what's possible. Call the very best out of people in a bid to maximise their potential. Don't just tell them once, keep telling them until they can see it too. If they can catch even the faintest glimpse then you're on the journey from possibility to reality.


Have a great Christmas, and as you deck the halls, take a moment to consider what environment you are creating for leaders to grow and thrive around you.


Pete Wynter is Executive Director at Onelife, Director of Leadership College London and curate at HTB.

Click here to book now.