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

The Color of Confusion

Written by: on February 2, 2020

Religion can be a difficult topic for many. In Hospice work, my patients will often say, “I don’t want any of that God stuff.” So, I don’t give them any of that “God stuff” verbally, but I always let them know I’m praying for them and interject little stories about my faith in our conversations. It is so beautiful how often, before their last breath, they will say something like: “Do you think your God would accept a scruffy old guy like me?” or “I want what you have now.” Music to my ears!

Working with human trafficking has also been a challenge, because of past hurt from the church and/or because of the overwhelming burden of guilt and shame within the victims. Helping them to accept that they truly were “victims” and that the scenario was not their fault opens the door to love for them. But the challenge still remains with regards to what the church has done to them in the past through condemnation, judgement, and blame. Often, that’s a journey that is more difficult to heal. It’s all based on trust – trusting the counselor, trusting their support system, and learning to trust God again.

My challenge now is a subject we addressed last week with regards to whether college students are losing their grasp on Christianity because of their education. I truly believe that education and our confused political world can often cause young people to question more, especially in the sciences. Everything needs to be proven. Having all my kids in the medical field, I feel that their questioning and not finding scientific answers in their faith walk has caused some disillusionment and some drifting away from the church – and their undeniable belief in Heaven. This is a heavy weight for me, as my kids were all raised in our invested Catholic home, where I taught first communion, confirmation, and sat on many church boards. Their upbringing was integrated in the church. I loved my Catholic faith and made sure my kids were involved in the journey as well. Yet, in today’s confused world, questions continue to dominate and confusion continues to grow about religion, faith, and spiritual connection.

In The Evolution of the West, Spencer noted that the idea that ‘Kingdom’ is not a political term, ‘God’ is not a theological term, and preaching about the ‘Coming’ of both is not a revolutionary act and is not entirely convincing for most. “It is impossible to understand our politics without the Bible,” Spencer added, “since religion plays such a powerful role in our political life.”[1] Spencer went on to explore that “Christian nationhood may be good but is never unalloyed or incontrovertibly good. Every act of inclusion is also an act of exclusion; and when those acts of inclusion are informed by religious affiliation, a whole new dimension is added to an already sensitive issue.”[2] That’s where the misunderstandings and misjudgments about religion often come from, and this confusion colors politics.

Spencer notes that the Bible has a very high view of political power. He quoted Romans 13 as the proof-text of choice: ‘Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” In contrast, Kets de Vries in Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership, describes the religious world this way: “everyone has gone mad, throwing up all kinds of obstacles in the search of truth.”[3] He added that “the ability of people in powerful positions to project and displace their personal neuroses into the public sphere” is an added component to the confusion in the political world.[4] Interesting perspectives from two very powerful authors!

Spencer explored that ‘we enthusiastically genuflect before the altar of democracy today in much the same way as we did before the altar of nationalism a century ago – with more hollowness in our piety.’ But he concludes that ‘perhaps the lesson that may be drawn from Christianity’s chequered engagement with democratic freedom in Britain over the years is to temper our democratic genuflection.’[5] People are fallible…and so are our leaders. But, in the end, Christianity continues to hold the light for the world!

[1] Nick Spencer, The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values (London, Great Britain: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2016), 24.

[2] Ibid, 32.

[3] Manfred Kets De Vries, Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership (London: Pelgrave McMillion, 2018), 14.

[4] Ibid, 42.

[5] Spencer, The Evolution of the West, 63.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

4 responses to “The Color of Confusion”

  1. Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, I agree that the concern for our children’s faith is a major issue in our lives. All we can do is pray!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      I agree, Mary. The answer is with God. Our only control is raising our kids in faith – and then giving them wings and trusting God to take it from there. My daughters are walking in faith – but my sons are more questioning and seeking proof. It will come – God’s got this!!!

  2. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Nancy. interesting reflection on leadership fallibility. So here’s the question. f we can recognise the fallibility of leadership because it s often nuanced with their personal nueroses, then how do we no know that our critique of those politicians isn t revised on the same, yet unique, nuances of our own. Thus, making the ones doing the critique equally fallable? Who then is correct?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Great question, Digby. Kets de Vries also wrote in his book that “people have demonstrated their ignorance of the consequence of putting their trust in perverse ideologies and autocratic leaders.” He was alluding to the election of misguided leaders – and I agree with him. Certainly, there is a responsibility within people to vote for effective leaders – which clearly hasn’t always happened!

Leave a Reply