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

Superman, Separation, and Destiny

Written by: on February 1, 2024


He was my hero, and I was always unashamed in celebrating his victories, letting anyone who would hear me talk about an ordinary guy who could do extraordinary things. I remember my heart beating and blood pressure rising as Clark Kent would leave his job at the Daily Planet to fend off Lex Luthor or any other toxic enemy who defied the law or threatened peace, democracy, and human existence. I could recount his painful departure from the planet Krypton as he intermingled on planet Earth as a regular guy in society until that emergency call came. As heroic as this iconic DC figure was to the masses, I am now convinced that what drew me to Superman was not the plot but rather being captivated by the process he unveiled week after week as I anxiously waited for Superman to do his thing.

The process is what I care to focus on in contemplation of Campbell’s A Hero with A Thousand Faces. My most vivid takeaway was how he viewed separation and departure as a call to adventure. This may be the experience for some, but others life may argue differently. Campbell also adds, “all moments of separation and new birth produce anxiety.”[1]  I am reminded biblically of Abram and the covenant establishment by God accompanied with the specific directive, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” [2] Abraham is truly a hero indeed, listed in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11. He is regarded as a Superhero of sorts for his heroic departure and his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. His departure is linked to his eternal destiny, and Campbell echoes how the two are intertwined.

Separation resonates with me personally as I recall my own personal journey in life. Basketball was a way of life for me, and like most, I had professional ambitions with my sights set on the NBA. Going up against a crowded field of talent after college, I was not quite ready to abandon my lifelong hope. Sitting at home I remember getting a call from a European league basketball agent. He offered me an opportunity to sign with a team in Spain and was stern to me in his message, “Daren, if you want to fulfill your basketball destiny and have a future, it is best for you to take your talents overseas. Spain wants you and is waiting for you to fly out”. My destiny required a departure, leaving my family and friends behind for a country I only read about in school.

My second reflection takes me to ministry. Our denomination is Methodist, with an Episcopal form of government, meaning that we are governed by bishops who appoint you to pastorates. When a bishop seeks to move a minister within his home region there is no need to ask a minister’s approval. When it is outside of the region, he must gain approval. After 5 successful years, my bishop approached me with an offer, the Lord is leading me to offer you the pastorate of our church in Syracuse…” Campbell goes on to write, “Destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from his pale of his society to a zone unknown.”[3] While admittedly I never knew a thing about Syracuse, departure and destiny was once again my calling. It meant leaving behind my home base of New York City friends, family, and colleagues and starting all over in a place where I knew no one. Now approaching 18 years, I can honestly say Syracuse has become an integral part of my life and ministerial journey.

As I contemplate the stages of departure, initiation, and return, I am also mindful of our previous reading and how these can be viewed as threshold concepts in our human experience. Each stage requires a new way of understanding, paving the way towards destiny.  Campbell also suggests the notion of supernatural aid for those who accept the call. This parallels Camacho’s writing, asserting the Holy Spirit as a helper in our daily lives.

I must admit I had to really dig into this week’s reading with extra coffee, brushing off my cognitive dissonance. My immediate flashback was to Greek mythology and mysticism. I was never a fan, but after getting past the initial feelings of anxiety approaching this reading, I was captured by his ability to detail in a unique fashion the personal journey of people on the road to human discovery.

While this book was truly a gumbo of sorts, packed with a unique blend of mythological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual ponderings, it also came with some awesome parallels. As a Christian, I was truly disappointed in Campbell’s portrayal of biblical persons, reducing them to equal or inferior status in comparison to the heroes of ancient. On the other hand, what I commend is his mythological blueprint, which speaks to the hero in each of us and, if we see the stages through, how we can truly impact the lives of others while potentially reaching our call to destiny.

[1]Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces 3rd ed. (Novato: New World Library, 2008), 44

[2] Genesis 12:1

[3] Campbell, 48.

About the Author

Daren Jaime

19 responses to “Superman, Separation, and Destiny”

  1. Adam Cheney says:

    But did you go to Spain and become a European superstar basketball player?
    I also thought that I wished I had payed more attention to Greek mythology in high school as much of the book felt foreign and a bit jumpy. In your pastorate, do you see others in this hero’s journey? If so, how might you support them?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Adam! Yes, I did go to Spain and play, and during my time of playing, I did become a fan favorite, after years in retirement, I still have life-long relationships and visit now a couple of times a year. With regards to my congregants, I am pretty encouraging to them to make the leap and answer the call. In my context we often associate the call to solely ministry, preaching, and pastoring. I tend to help them understand answering the call is critical in developing and deepening our relationship with God. I use this as my launching point towards helping others embrace their God given potential and destiny. Thanks!

  2. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Daren, Thanks for sharing some of your journey. I am glad you were open to God’s calling to Syracuse and how it has become an important part of your ministry and life. What kind of supernatural aid has the Holy Spirit given you in your ministry?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Diane! Too much for this post! LOL! I will say my feels of uncertainty, insecurity and failure were at the top of my list when accepting this assignment. In turn, the Holy Spirit has proven faithful, enabling me to trust God for tough decisions, congregational leaps of faith, and the words to say when I had no words. Supernatural aid to my journey has been both beneficial and rewarding.

  3. Graham English says:

    Daren, Thanks for your blog. I appreciate your focus on the call to separation. Abraham was definitely one who was called and journeyed. Certainly, every person who follows Jesus has to accept the call to deny themselves, pick up their cross and then follow him. Losing what the world defines and life to find life to the full. I wonder how we might use this call to separation in disciple-making as a different type of hero’s journey rather than tying in to cultural ideals?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Graham! Thanks! I mentioned earlier that the call is more than just to ministry but life. The disciples were called and they went. Encouraging people to embrace the call and witnessing them reach their destiny and potential is a game changer. We have a tendency of wanting people to follow our directions in the church world. Our primary assignment, however, should be encouraging people to heed the call of God, who knows the plans he has for us. Witnessing someone else reach their destiny through answering and obedience could be just the spark needed to cause someone else to yield to the call of God on their life.

  4. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Thank you, Daren, for highlighting the comparison between Campbell’s perspective on separation and departure as a call to adventure and the biblical narrative of Abraham. The intertwining of departure with destiny, as exemplified in your basketball journey and ministry transition, showcases your courage and faith required to step into the unknown.
    I understand your initial resistance faced when approaching this week’s reading. It was not easy for me either. I think it is not uncommon to encounter certain mental conflict when engaging with complex ideas. Kudos to you for pushing yourself into this material and find value in Campbell’s unique exploration of the human journey, despite differences in portrayal of biblical figures.
    Chris Blackman asked me this question, so I am going to ask you a similar question. If you were to have coffee with Mr. Campbell, what would say to him or ask him about his book.

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Shela! I am a practicioner in many ways. I think I would want him to convey some real-time practical ways and would want him to share some life applications in a different form to help people see clearer. Everyone may not be able to unpack his mythological methods but I do believe he is on to something and could assist people in their personal experience,

  5. Jeff Styer says:

    I loved all the superhero shows growing up and was appalled when my high school English teacher suggested that no one really wants to be a superhero. Fortunately, I had a friend who sided with me. Did you ever watch the television show “The Greatest America Hero”? High School teacher, Ralph is given a suit by aliens in order to fight injustices. He loses the instruction manual and bumbles his way through each episode. I think I feel that way about my previous leadership. I may be a leader but I have no idea what I am doing and like Ralph, in many situations, I didn’t ask for this, it was thrust upon me. I wonder if you have ever felt that way in your own ministry?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Jeff! One of my favorite shows to watch that I am rewatching for a second time is Designated Survivor on Netflix. Kiefer Sutherland plays a failed HUD director who now assumes the Presidency and is just about to be reassigned from the Presidents’s cabinet before calamity hits the White House making him president. In his presidential infancy, a former president tells him Leaders are made, not born. Facing many things in my leadership journey, including this present pastorate, I often felt in over my head. As I mentioned earlier, Supernatural Aid has been my friend. I believe we all have the capacity to achieve greater but the key is trusting and not aborting the process.

  6. Julie O'Hara says:

    Hi Daren, Thank you for your post, I appreciate the emphasis on departure. You mentioned disappointment at Campbell’s portrayal of biblical stories. As a counterpoint, what do you make of he closed the book with some pretty strong biblical language and imagery including the words, mansion, atonement, and cross of the redeemer in the final paragraphs?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Julie! I noticed his references and see how he engaged us in thought. I question what his true stance on Christianity is and would argue than Christianity seems like just another religion from his view. While his mentions certainly affirm his knowledge of Christianity I am not sure of his overall stance.

  7. Nancy Blackman says:

    I love how you wove Campbell’s words into your personal life journey, and how the stages that Campbell mentions formed a path for you.

    Knowing a smidgen of your NPO, how do you imagine Campbell’s concept of mythology and heroism would impact your NPO?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Nancy! My takeaway would be in encouraging others to embrace the call. As young adults are a forgotten demographic in many ministry settings helping them to see their life as one of worth and value through responding to the call and enduring trials could move them closer to their destiny rather than sitting idly by and waiting to be called upon by others.

  8. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hey Daren,
    I loved that you wrote, “My most vivid takeaway was how he viewed separation and departure as a call to adventure. ” I hadn’t chewed on that much, but you are correct. I agree that people may push back on the “adventure thought.” I am not so sure I would call some of my separation times an adventure. A learning experience, maybe, but not so much an adventure (I relate that word with fun!!). If you were doing pastoral counseling with someone going through a hard time, what parts of this book would you use to hopefully make them feel a little comfortable?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Chris! I think my initial encouragement would be first to respond to the call. I would couple that with the transparency that the call/life is never easy. On page 275 he mentions the hero is predestined. Seeing that God knows the plans he has for us and counseling people to embrace this is a primary way we can begin to encourage people through.

  9. mm Kari says:

    Daren, I really enjoyed hearing more about your journey in life. Thanks to the other comments, my curiosity was was appeased in knowing you did go to Spain! It is commendable that you chose to cross that threshold and then continued to cross other thresholds as well.

    What connection or impact did your decision to cross that threshold and go to Spain have on your future life choices, such as those you shared above?

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