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


Written by: on October 11, 2019

Chess is believed to have originated in Eastern India, c. 280–550, in the Gupta Empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturaṅga (Sanskritचतुरङ्ग), literally four divisions [of the military] – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry, represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. Thence it spread eastward and westward along the Silk Road.[1]

While reading The Silk Roads: A New History of the World  by Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University, this reader reflected on two continual thoughts, “This seems to be about who gets to rule the world,” and “World leaders often seem to lead as if playing chess, attempting to put the other ‘king’ in check.” Whether it’s Brexit, Make America Great Again, Putin’s PhD dissertation on Russian economy, or China’s resurgence and moves toward building an “economic belt along the Silk Road,” the stakes of the game are increasingly high. What is behind the moves being made on the board?[2] Frankopan’s descriptions imply power, wealth, commodities and natural resources. Is it ensuring prosperity and security for the people they are responsible for as world leaders, or is it driven by personal power and conquest?

As this program of study is Leadership and Global Perspectives, this researcher is curious to learn how the development process and stages of a leader’s life influences her/his leadership style and decision making. Is a leader’s personal development revealed in her/his motives and moves on the chess board?

Frankopan sets the centre of the world where civilization began in the region of Mesopotamia. Then he describes how Hellenistic influence began to sweep across the East with the Greek language heard and seen throughout Central Asia and how Asia then responds with influence of their own including visual images of Buddha because of the effects of the Greek’s religion on the people. He recounts how the “maxims from Delphi were carved on to a monument, including:

As a child, be well-behaved.

            As a youth, be self- controlled.

            As an adult, be just.

            As an elder, be wise.

            As one dying, be without pain.[3]

This quote beautifully describes the various growth stages of a human being. One could only hope that the leaders of our world are men and women who are growing in justice, wisdom and maturity and that their leadership would reflect this through selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of those under their watch. Jesus made a clear distinction in describing leadership when the mother of James and John asked if her sons could sit on his right and left in his kingdom. Animosity arose among the disciples because of the conversation and Jesus responded,

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.[4]

As Frankopan moves through his new history of the world firmly placing its center in the Mesopotamia region, he seems to be attempting to bring balance to power as he argues against Eurocentricism. He has a somewhat dismal view of the future of the West and describes various backroom decisions made, even in recent decades by U.S. leaders, with disdain. He describes his account of history in a way that has captured attention in today’s chess game, with China on the rise. Memories of this cohort’s visit to Hong Kong last year, sensing the display of power in the fireworks presentation during China’s national holiday, and viewing the news today as protestors stand in opposition to what they perceive as a threat to their long-held democracy, further piques this researcher’s interest in what is lacking in the development of leaders that drives them toward power and personal conquest?

From the crusaders to Chinggis Khan to Saddam Hussein, Frankopan uses metaphoric titles of roads to describe leaders and their narratives in history: The Road to Heaven, The Road to Hell, The Road to Tragedy. These stories reveal the empiric nature of leadership in which power and control consumes even the best intentions. As leaders continue moving across the board today what pawns will be sacrificed in the name of progress? Who will call, “Checkmate!”

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess#History

[2] https://academic-oup-com.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/cjres/article/12/1/3/5348484

[3] Peter Frankopan, The Silk Road: A New History of the World (xxxx), 6.

[4] Matthew 20:25-27 NIV

About the Author

Tammy Dunahoo

Tammy is a lover of God, her husband, children and grandchildren. She is the V.P. of U.S. Operations/General Supervisor of The Foursquare Church.

9 responses to “Checkmate!”

  1. Thanks for this Tammy. You made me recall some of the insights Frankopan highlighted in his work. As in your analogy of chess, it seems to be the case that for most, if not nearly all world leaders possessed a mindset of “all or nothing.” On top of that, there was greed and envy.

    Human nature, it appears, is incapable of seeing the folly in such behaviors. And then we don’t have capacities to learn from our mistakes either.

    I thought about your analogy of world leaders playing a game of chess, and chess being a game of “all or nothing” and then an idea popped into my head: I wonder when Scrabble was invented?

  2. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Poignant post Tammy, not only regarding all of the players on the global stage, but even our experience in the program . . . having seen fireworks in Hong Kong just a year ago, that are much different than the fireworks happening there today.

    We have learned and seen the power shift East . . . it will be interesting to see if/when it moves South.

  3. Thank You Tammy for your post, Your question as to what pawns will be sacrificed and who will call checkmate, indeed scream out for answers. Much as history is pregnant with answers because we tend to default to history for predicting the future, I contend that as Christian Leaders, we have a steward responsibility to influence the World stage. We cannot simply watch from the sidelines as the world leaders play chess, We have to jump in and be players too, ultimately to be the ones that will call ‘Checkmate!’

  4. Mario Hood says:

    Challenging post and great questions Tammy!

    Love the connection with the stages of growth. It makes me wonder and ponder how we can build a program/framework for all stages of growth and not just adults!

  5. Karen Rouggly says:

    Great post, Tammy, as many have said. I appreciated your analogy of chess to demonstrate growth. Chess is a game of calculated risk, which I see being played out on the worlds stages as you mentioned. I do wonder, as Sean mentioned in our group chat, how we would have faired in Hong Kong today. The context of what we’ve seen in this program really does make our reading come alive!

  6. Mary Mims says:

    Great post Tammy. It’s obvious that just as in the past, many lives are lost in this game of chess, where real people are the pawns. In reading the book and looking at videos by Frankopan, I found out that the Chinese are not just building infrastructure in many African countries, but also doing the same in Jamacia. It does seem that they are making moves on the world’s stage in preparation for something big. However, as you and Wallace both reminded us, we do not rule like those without faith in Jesus Christ and that gives me hope. I think we need to keep this foremost in our minds.

  7. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Tammy. Yes, the book is a bit dismal when it comes to the future of the West, and a little over positive looking at the resurgence of the Middle East. I did wonder if Frankopan was falling into the same trap that world leaders fell into from the 3rd century – that the east would continue to be the centre of all things because it’s where the power and development lay. The history that Frankopan left out were the parts that mattered – European expansion, the growth of Christianity, the renaissance and the Enlightenment. None could have been foreseen in Frankopans Meosptamian centrism. My point is, the future will be determined by what we don’t know and not what we think we know – it always hase been.

  8. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for linking leadership development with global plays on the world chessboard. I tend to agree with Digby that the future will be most impacted by what is unknown to us (a humbling thought) rather than anyone’s expertise. Human beings always seem to think they are so smart they can project the future, but God’s will and purposes will prevail. Perhaps God is the unseen player on the global chessboard, I wonder what he wants to accomplish in The Silk Roads (not just in the USA)?

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