Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Bustling and Hustling in the new digital age

Written by: on February 2, 2023

Jefferey D. Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. In this book, The Ages of Globalization – Geography, Technology, and Institutions, Dr. Sachs takes the readers to reflect into the world’s history behind present globalization and gaze into the economy of the seven ages of globalization. He divided the history of ages of globalization into the paleolithic age (70,000-10,000 BCE), neolithic age (10,000-3000 BCE), equestrian age (3000-1000 BCE), classical age (1000-1500 CE), ocean age (1500-1800), industrial age (1800-2000) and the digital age (21st century). Dr. Sachs brings and shares many expert insights into his breakdown of seven distinct ages of globalization to present that “by studying the history of globalization, we can arrive at an informed understanding of globalization in the twenty-first century and how to manage it successfully.”[1] Dr. Sachs informs the readers to keep in mind five important questions throughout the presentation of his book: “First, what have been the main drivers of global-scale change? Second, how do geography, technology, and institutions interact? Third, how do changes in one region diffuse to others? Fourth, how have these changes affected global interdependence? Fifth, what lessons can we glean from each age to help us meet our challenges today?”[2] Whether one likes it or not, the effects of globalization can be felt by every person living on this planet as we speak. The revolutions in each of these ages have taken all of us into the rapidly changing scene of the digital revolution. Whether you are living in the amazon driving your gas-powered motorboat or living in one of the bustling US cities driving your electric powered tesla, everyone feels a bit nervous, behind, and lost “with the vast increases in computational capacity and speed of computers…artificial intelligence systems are now being built with hundreds of layers of digital neurons and very high-dimensional digital inputs and outputs.”[3]

I had to help one of my neighbors last Monday to excuse her jury duty. The changes in the system now required this Korean immigrant elder who didn’t speak English to be excused from jury duty after logging into zoom orientation, which took 4 hrs before the excuse links were passed out. The digital revolution brought so many changes to the jury duty system. The old traditional way of selecting our jury for cases is now completely online. It gathered potential 200+ jurors into a zoom room, and many couldn’t speak English, including my neighbor; many were old and weren’t familiar with the latest digital platforms of zoom survey monkeys, and computers. Long story short, many frustrations and chaos were very present in the zoom room that arose from many different sources of problems of integrating the old system into the latest technologies, efforts of bridging the gap between the digital culture and languages into the global culture and languages that people are used to, and along with many technical issues and problems. This kind of frustration, chaos, and inequality is currently growing in different places in our society and on a global scale. Every church, every community, and every country is dealing with certain challenges of the digital revolution. And with every revolution comes challenges of inequality. As Dr. Sachs discussed, “technological advances contain within them the seeds of rising inequality, as new technologies create winners and losers in the marketplace…And now comes the digital economy, with even smarter machines and systems to do the tasks currently carried out by workers. Who will win, and who will lose?”[4]

Where is our future headed? He argues further that in this 21st century, tremendous economic growth has taken place all over the world on a global scale. But, “it has also generated two stark results. First, inequalities of income and wealth are intense and increasing. Not only do we still have extreme poverty in the midst of global wealth, but we also have rising inequalities within rich societies that threaten to become much worse in the age of smart machines. Second, we have violated the planetary boundaries with human-induced climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pervasive pollution that threaten the well-being of billions of people and the survival of millions of species.”[5] I believe we have to consider those two points in our ministries and leadership. The upcoming 21st century will have to wrestle with solving issues that will deal with inequalities and changes in our global environment.

[1] Jeffrey Sachs, The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology, and Institutions (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020), 1.

[2] Ibid, 2.

[3] Ibid, 175.

[4] Ibid, 185.

[5] Ibid, 197.

About the Author


Jonathan Lee

President of Streamside Ministry Lead Pastor of EM @ San Jose Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA

10 responses to “Bustling and Hustling in the new digital age”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    I enjoyed reading your post. I posed a similar question to Mary and Henry, but I would love to hear your perspective.

    What has your experience been like in this global leadership program? Do you feel the various expressions of Asian leadership have been presented for contemplation and application? If not, what would be some resources you could point me so that I can broaden my perspective?

    • mm Jonathan Lee says:

      hi Eric!

      I loved this program so far because it gave me an opportunity to read into many books that I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t this program. Also, I gained so much from reading the posts and leaning into different perspectives. As I did my research in these couple years, I found difficult to find many and abundant resources in Asian/Korean American perspectives and leadership. The history of Korean immigration is quite short compared to other ethnicities in America and I think there are many aspects and topics that can be researched and voiced in the coming years. As for resources concerning Asian leadership, I haven’t come across one yet and I will point when I do.

      • mm Henry Gwani says:

        A million thanks Jonathan for your insightful summary of Sachs’ work and reflection on the experience of helping your elderly neighbor navigate the world of Zoom.
        There are two Asian leaders who have deeply impressed me with their writings. Both are Singaporean: Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, and Kishore Mahbubani, former foreign affairs minister. Have you or anyone you know read from any of these authors; and if so, what are your thoughts?

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Jonathan, thanks for this well-written post. Let me ask you what might be a strange question: if you were sharing this book with your students, what would you tell them is the application of this book to their lives? Why should they care about this book and what it contains?

    • mm Jonathan Lee says:

      Hi Roy!

      I’m not too sure if my youth students will be interested in reading this book, let alone reading any book, because of the digital impact in the 21st century. But, I would tell them to learn history and acquire historical knowledge because everything in the present comes from series of events from the past. Wisdom from the Bible points that in order to know the future, one must learn from the past and reflect upon the present. Sachs gives so much insights and wisdom into the future from this book. I wish he elaborated a lot more than 2 chapters.

      • mm Nicole Richardson says:

        Jonathan I agree that studying history can be very helpful for understanding how we got to where we are. What might be a unique digitally poignant example you can use to help the youth appreciate the importance of learning history?

  3. mm Eric Basye says:

    I would love to hear you expound on those two considerations you mention at the end of your blog regarding inequality and the environment. What do you forsee the church doing differently and Christian leaders?

  4. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Jonathan: Sachs’ comments about inequalities when he talks about “Where are we heading” were surprising. I have read in many places how inequalities on a global basis have been dropping drastically for decades. There has never been so much equality in the world as there is today. I wish Sachs had spent a little time on this positive trend.

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Hey Jonathan/Troy:

      Troy, to your comment and question, it would be interesting to see the real data. I wonder if those in countries of communist rule experience the equalities we are seeing in other countries.

  5. Elmarie Parker says:

    Thank you, Jonathan, for your thoughtful post and engagement with Sachs’ book. Your example of helping your neighbor through on-line jury-selection duty really brought home the issue of inequality in this digital age. Like Eric, I’d love to hear your further thoughts on how church communities can better deal with inequalities and changes in our global environment.

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