DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Global or Nationalistic Perspectives?

Written by: on May 25, 2017

In the Spring of 1970 two foolish twenty year old young men, one white and one black, walked the streets of Capetown, South Africa together. We went places marked for whites only and for blacks only. We were refused service in restaurants. We were cheered by cars of blacks who drove by. Phil and I were told that we didn’t get into trouble because it was obvious we were Americans, but our behavior was still foolish and just a little “in your face.” After studying The Rise and Fall of Apartheid by David Welsh I realize all the more what a dangerous game we were playing. But also, I am glad we behaved in an anti-apartheid way.

One taxi driver who dared to pick up Phil and me together told us that when the revolt against Apartheid came it would be a blood bath. David Welsh confirms this opinion in The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. “South Africa’s transition from racial oligarchy to an inclusive democracy was one of the most remarkable processes of the late twentieth century. Few believed that it would occur as soon – and as relatively peacefully – as it did. the transition belied gloomy predictions of race war in which the white minority went into a laager and fought ‘to the last drop of blood.’” [1]

In the conclusion Welsh states how this happened. “The theme of this book has been that the transition occurred because the principal antagonists, the ANC and the NP, mutually recognized that neither could win the struggle on its own terms…No single-factor cause satisfactorily explains the transition: it derived from a combination of factors…but leadership was the indispensable component. Both Mandela and De Klerk had to keep potentially unruly support-bases in line. As Peter Clarke writes of (British) political leaders, leadership was important ‘not because it is all that matters, but because we literally cannot do without it.’” [2]

The description of Mandela and De Klerk sounds parallel to the definition of leadership as “keeping your head while all about you are losing theirs.” Mandela and De Klerk kept their heads and managed to think and lead from a perspective that was much grander than their own nationalistic interests.

Leadership WITH Global Perspectives.

The thread I choose to pick up from this book deals with issues of “nationalism” and nationalistic attitudes and behaviors. In the book Professor Welsh demonstrates the complexity of South African politics, sorting through tensions between the Afrikaners and British, along with issues of economics, politics, race, and self-protection. It is my thesis that nationalism often arises as a reaction to circumstances and is a behavior of self-protection in the face of a perceived danger or threat; whether that’s economic, physical, cultural… I think we see this in South Africa, Nazi Germany, Brexit, and the most recent American election cycle.

JBM Herzog was an influential Prime Minister in the early 20th Century. Welsh says, “Hertzog’s slogan, ‘South Africa First’, encapsulated many of the nationalists’ grievances and aspirations. It meant that South Africa’s interests should take precedence over those of the Empire, and, as a corollary, that South Africa should be governed by those ‘imbued with the South African spirit’ and not by those he contemptuously called ‘foreign fortune-seekers’, referring to English-speakers who…showed greater loyalty to the Empire than to South Africa…” [3] He shows a connection between this brand of nationalism and the rise of Apartheid. This echos in recent American leadership rhetoric we are hearing in 2016 and 2017.

A danger I see is that it is far too easy for nationalism to result in an “in group” and an “out group,” and that the parameters of those groups are subjective. Hertzog’s phrase, ‘imbued with the South Africa spirit’ is so nebulous (to an outsider) that it allows the author of the phrase to define terms anyway he wants.

In the 1960s a ubiquitous bumper sticker displayed an American flag and said, “America, Love It Or Leave It.” In the historical context that form of nationalism excluded those who dared to protest the Viet Nam war. Many viewed protests as being anti-American, rather than seeing them as the essence of being American. This controversy created a rift that I’m not sure has ever healed.

A general view of German history from the 1930s shows one man’s nationalist view of Germany which created an “out group.” This mentality, creating suspicion and presumed superiority of one group over another, can lead to wars between nations, not to mention the destruction of millions of lives. This week Isis, once again, killed innocent people viewed not to be a part of their “in group.”

What are we to make of the similarities between The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer; [4] depicting the nationalism of Nazi Germany and its racist atrocities, and The Rise and Fall of Apartheid by David Welsh; depicting the nationalism of South Africa and its racist atrocities? Another chilling question is what are we to do now, having seen the complicity of the Church during those times in Germany [5] and South Africa? [6]

Is there “Kingdom of God nationalism?” I ask this with fear and trembling, because I do not want to be misunderstood to be saying that the Kingdom of God should not have a clear understanding as to citizenship. We know that those who bend the knee to the Lordship of Jesus are citizens of His Kingdom.

The question is how do we regard and treat those not in the Kingdom? Just as I am offended by too narrow a view of American patriotism, might we not assume that those not in the Kingdom of God can also be offended by our sense of “in” and “out?” Someone has said that Sunday morning at 11 is the most segregated hour of the week. It would be difficult to support that reality from a Biblical perspective.

Leadership and Global Perspectives prepares us to lead from a perspective that will enable conversation, understanding, and mutuality in multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic contexts. If we are Kingdom-of-God leaders with global perspective, consider the implications of this for how we lead. This is not a game we play.
1. David Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2009), vii.
2. Ibid., 566-567.
3. Ibid., 5.
4. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1960).
5. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010).
6. Welsh, 11.

About the Author

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Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

7 responses to “Global or Nationalistic Perspectives?”

  1. Marc,

    What a great review of this weeks reading. You have gotten down to the core of the book and what was at stake. I too found that the leadership of these two men was extraordinary and if either one of them would have let their ego take over it could have been destructive and deadly. I know you have pastored for a long time, what was it that helped you to keep things in balance when it cost you personally to do what was best for the the congregation?

    This reading and this upcoming trip is going to elevate the whole “global perspectives” side of this degree I believe. God Bless

    Kevin

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Kevin,

      I’m sure I failed more than I succeeded – but – the old phrase: “it’s not about you,” really is key. I would have to discipline myself to think about the Kingdom – and what would advance or benefit the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t about Marc, it was about Jesus.

      It is a powerful gift for us as leaders to remember that our leadership is, in the end, about the King of kings. Leadership and Global Perspectives is one thing – but when we remember “Leadership and the Perspective of the Kingdom of God” – that’s a game changer.

      That fells a little too much like a “cookie-cutter” answer, but it is none the less true. We are better leaders because we have the perspective of eternity and God’s purposes.

      We can ask, “what is my legacy?” What is Mandela’s legacy – or de Klerk’s. The legacy is the long-term affect on the lives of others.

  2. Claire Appiah says:

    Marc,
    It was Martin Luther King who said, “Sunday morning at 11 is the most segregated hour of the week.”

    Thanks for keeping us focused on what truly matters in the long run in pursuing our Dmin degree. Your statement says it all. “Leadership and Global Perspectives prepares us to lead from a perspective that will enable conversation, understanding, and mutuality in multi-national, multi-ethnic, and multi-linguistic contexts. If we are Kingdom-of-God leaders with global perspectives, consider the implications of this for how we lead.” This is a strong admonition, but you are correct. Kingdom of God leadership–that is key in every respect.

    I also appreciate your wisdom in your reply to Kevin that, “We are better leaders because we have the perspective of eternity and God’s purposes,” and “. . . legacy is the long-term affect on the lives of others.”

    Thanks for these nuggets. I have no questions for you.

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Claire,

      Thanks for the reminder of the ML King quotation. Now I remember. And thanks for your constant encouragement.

      It is both gratifying and frightening to think about the impact, effect, and legacy for leaders; whatever our sphere of influence. I am grateful for the refining work in us through the challenge of academic studies in the D Min. May we steward well the opportunity we’ve been given.

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Marc, you were a brave 20 year old to do what you did! I imagine that having visited South Africa during the Apartheid made the reading this week more meaningful.

    I appreciate the passionate and reflective tone of your blog. You touched on many significant issues. I agree with you on your thesis that nationalism arises as a way of protection against what is considered “outsiders.” I had never applied that concept into Kingdom nationalism. That was insightful. It makes me realize that we have to no only create an inclusive atmosphere towards people from different cultures, but also towards unbelievers. Thank you for the insight. This week I shared the gospel with a Chinese student who has not yet believed, but who is still seeking. I encouraged him to continue the dialogue and he appreciated the invitation. He said that in other churches he has visited people were “pushy” and made him uncomfortable, but this was the first time that he was given permission to take his time to think through things without pressure. This experience made me remember your blog. Indeed, without realizing it, we can make the outsider feel unwelcome. May the Lord give us wisdom to lead in a way that shows His patience and grace.
    Pablo

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Pablo,

      I do think that we gain more for people and for the Kingdom when we regard others with respect and as valuable. The Chinese person you spoke with will probably come to the Lord because of this experience.

  4. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Marc,
    You stated that “Leadership and Global Perspectives prepares us to lead from a perspective that will enable conversation, understanding, and mutuality in multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic contexts.” This is a very fair statement because it has increased my cultural awareness and help shape how I engage people. It is easy for us to innocently segregate because of our cultural background. However, we must continue to accept cultural differences as an opportunity to learn instead of segregate. The apartheid showed us how years of segregation can have lasting negative impact on an entire country. The church, when we use cultural intelligence can help shape how we engage people in society.

    Garfield

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