DMINLGP

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

Humility in a Global History

Written by: on October 7, 2016

I was sitting in my dorm room with 8 other men.  Because I could not sleep, I decided to get out of my cot, pass the outdoor restroom and look across the river into El Paso, Texas.  While El Paso is not the most cosmopolitan of towns, it is light years ahead of Anapra, Mexico.  This dusty little shanty town that sits on top of an old dump is a few miles away from Juarez and one mile from El Paso, yet it might as well be one million miles away from the US border town.  Our team built houses in this tiny hamlet.  As a matter of fact, we built two houses in less than 50 hours. The people we built them for were so grateful, but I dare say that these homes would not meet anyone’s standards in the States.

What is odd about Mexico is its past.  About 180 years ago, Texans became independent.  Now, being raised in Texas, I know that Mexico was a great empire.  They had a thriving economy and a strong army, but all that began to change when Texas became independent.  While the States became its own empire, Mexico became trapped  in the past and corruption ran rampant.  Unfortunately for our neighbors to the south, their better days are behind them.

While I am not trying to demean Mexico, there is a point to be made that is tied to Peter Frankopan’s book, The Silk Roads.  In this seminal work that I found fascinating, we see the rise and fall of many empires in the east.  Frankopan’s great insight provides a new insight into history that this Westerner never realized.

Let me explain.  Frankopan’s description of the eastern world is mind-boggling.  He describes empires such as Rome, Ottoman, Mongol and the like as being radically global and fiercely innovative.  These empires were motivated by trade, discovery and each seemingly would never end, at least to the people in power.  However, history tells us that they all ended.  While each empire in the East has contributed greatly to our modern empire, all of them are no more.  They are simply pages in history.  This is true of modern empires as well.  Just within my own lifetime, we have seen the fall of the Soviets, the rise of China, the weakening of British Imperial Power, and the economic growth in emerging markets.  There have always been empires, and there will always be the fall of great empires.  Frankopan makes that abundantly clear.

As I walked in Mexico, I could see another great glimmering empire.  It seems that this empire’s power will go on in perpetuity.  However, we know that this simply will not be the case.  Rome never could see life outside of Rome, the Mongols knocked on Europe’s door with dominance, Suleman the Great expanded the Ottoman Empire without resistance, but they all eventually failed.

If there is anything we can learn from Frankopan’s book, it maybe that we should not be seduced by our own hubris. The world was strikingly progressive long before the Western ideal arrived on the scene and will be long after the West is gone.  As global leaders, we must understand that life does not begin and end with western modernity.  If we understand this and walk in humility, then it is my belief that we can have a greater impact on society.

About the Author

mm

Jason Kennedy

I am a pastor of a thriving church in Grapevine, Texas. With two little girls (5,8), and a wife that is a medical doctor (family practice), life is non-stop.

12 responses to “Humility in a Global History”

  1. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Jason,

    I’m going to risk bringing up politics. Given what you wrote about the rise and fall of many nations and societies, to you have any comment regarding America and our current presidential race? I ask because it seems everyone I talk with is pretty discouraged by the quality of our candidates.

    • Marc,
      I believe many of the empires rose and fell upon the qualities of leaders that were leading. Look at the Mongols for example, when they had strong leadership, they thrived.
      I believe we have a dearth of leadership in the American Political system. Our choices in either direction is not good. I think that is a troubling signal.
      Jason

  2. Aaron Cole says:

    Jason,

    Great blog! Great use of your present context and the book. I agree with you, I found Frankopan’s book very interesting. I agree with your assement of US: “it maybe that we should not be seduced by our own hubris”. Is there anything that we could do as Christian leaders in the US?

    Aaron

    • AC,
      Thanks. I think we have to preach and lead in missional context. While ministering to felt needs are great, we have to shift our people to think externally and not always about there own self.
      Jason

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Jason, as you pointed out, I was also impacted by the accounts of so many nations that have faded from positions of power. I have been visiting Greece at the same time I’ve been reading the book. Thus, seeing the ruins of ancient Greece and visiting the places where the Apostle Pau preached the Gospel are tangible reminders of how the pages of history take unexpected turns. One powerful nation today can become irrelevant tomorrow. Thank you for the reminder that as global leaders we need to lead from a position of humility.
    Pablo

  4. Kevin Norwood says:

    Jason,

    Great integration with what is currently happening in your world and what we are reading. How incredible to read a book that takes us through all the history that we have already studied from a theological perspective and turn it on its ear to bring a completely different view. I makes me even more aware that we as American’s are only going to be what we are or have been for a season before there is a change. Can we, as the church, affect the future and change? Hopefully we can do what Texas did. Become productive and have a future. Great Blog

    Kevin

    • Kev,
      I think it is possible. However, I think we have to stop being obsessed with our own individual kingdoms and focus on the kingdom. I think people are turned off by the church’s obsession with size. No one cares how big we are. They care about our impact. I think this is appealing to millennials. The church has focused more on building the church and focused less on being the church. It seems nuanced, but I think we have to “be” in order to make a lasting impact.
      Love you bro!
      J

  5. Claire Appiah says:

    Jason,
    Thanks for your insights.
    You are correct about your assessments of America. I think if America demonstrates to the world that it espouses Christian doctrine and values and acknowledges that God has made America great, we will walk in humility and obedience, and God will continue to bless us with greatness.

    • Claire,
      I agree with you. However, we have walked away from that ethic. That is why we can have leaders with no moral compass elected into office. We forget that what made America great was its commitment to freedom, equality and acknowledging God. Sadly, I think two out of three are missing today.
      Jason

  6. Claire Appiah says:

    Jason,
    Yes, unfortunately God is usually left out of the equation.

  7. Hi Jason. I like how you describe your experience in Mexico in relation to the book. Well done!
    You wrote a powerful statement: “If there is anything we can learn from Frankopan’s book, it maybe that we should not be seduced by our own hubris.” Can you unpack this a bit and relate it to leading a local church?

Leave a Reply to Aaron Peterson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *