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

Mercy, Mercy, Me

Written by: on November 16, 2019

Marvin Gaye once sang a song called, “Mercy, Mercy, Me”. This song was directed to the ecology of the earth being disrupted by oil spills in the ocean, mercury in the fish, and pollution in the skies. Even in the 1970’s, this soul-singer was concerned by what he was seeing, wondering how things could progress in the state that he felt things were going.

Simon P. Walker in The Undefended Leader Trilogy uses the metaphor of our personal ecology, “the dynamic, ever-fluctuating matrix of relationships we construct around ourselves”, to explain  the strategies we use to manage relationships effectively (Turner 2016).  “Dr Walker was educated at Felsted School, and then Christ Church Oxford where he studied Biology. He returned to study Theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford between 1994-7 and wrote several papers on the epistemology of relational knowledge and the ontology of personhood which would become foundational for his subsequent psychological ideas of an ecology of personhood (Walker n.d.).”  This ecology of personhood treats the person and their relationships as a system which can be disrupted just like the ecology of the earth. Just as the earth adjust to pollution, and greenhouse gases, so we must adjust to changes in our relationships.

This use of one of the branches of biology, ecology, as a metaphor to look at human relationship is reminiscent of Friedman’s Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of Quick Fix, who uses Cellular Biology, another branch of biology, to describe family systems.  These systematic approaches to study relationships show how changes in our environment, on many levels, can have significant impact on our lives. Deciding to take on a DMIN program was fine while my life seemed to be relatively uneventful and somewhat stable. The addition of unexpected family with emotional problem coming to live with me, major changes at work in upper management, the uncertainty of working for the Federal government in crisis, has caused me to say, Mercy, Mercy, Me, things ain’t what they used to be!

I have tried to cope using the Front/Back Stage as described by Walker (Turner 2016), by keeping the show going on the front stage, revealing only what I want people to see on the outward side, while things are falling apart on the backstage; but hey, as someone said, the show must go on. Freedom is supposed to come when some of the back stage is more visible and is not as much of a threat (BMS World Mission 2018).

Trying to become “Undefended” is going to be a process and reminds me that I do need to let God be my defense. Psalm 118:14 says, The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. While my personal ecology is out of balance, I need to continue to cry to the Lord for mercy, and let others assist in the cleanup and restoring balance. This is the only way I will restore my personal ecology and continue to make progress.


BMS World Mission. “Book Review and Reflections: The Undefended Leader.” 2018. (accessed November 14, 2019).

Turner, Mike Munro. “The Undefended Leader: Blog.” Mike the Mentor. December 14, 2016. (accessed November 14, 2019).

Walker, Simon P. “Simon P. Walker: Biography.” n.d. (accessed November 16, 2019).



About the Author


Mary Mims

I am a licensed and ordained Baptist minister and have worked with the children and youth for the last seven years. I have resided in the Washington, DC area for the last 30 years, but I am originally from Michigan. I am also bi-vocational and work at the US Patent and Trademark Office in the Scientific Library.

8 responses to “Mercy, Mercy, Me”

  1. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Fabulous post, your weaving together of a song (Marvin Gaye is one of my favorites!) and biology were so helpful to me to better understand both Friedman and Walker. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing a bit of the struggle between your front and backstage. I am praying for the Spirit’s peace and wisdom as you walk through this season in your life. Please know you are heard and loved by many. You probably don’t realize how loved and valued you are by all in your circle of influence. Yes, in your process of becoming an “undefended” leader remember that the Lord is your defender. Many blessings and thanks again for your post.

  2. Andrea Lathrop says:

    Mary – thank you for this and for sharing your life with us. I believe this book and Friedman’s have been a gift to me from God for my journey with my family and my leadership. I read somewhere in the trilogy 🙂 about people’s response to the idea of “undefended” before reading it and most thought it was scary and vulnerable and not a good thing. Indeed, I think it is and will be scary and vulnerable to try to head in this undefended direction but believe, like you, it is a very good thing. Much appreciation…

    • mm Mary Mims says:

      Thank you Andrea. I agree that Walker and Friedman are what we need, (I guess they know that all hell breaks loose when we are trying to advance) to finish this program. I pray that we all continue to press our way to be undefended! Thank you for being on this journey with me.

  3. I know what you mean Mary. Thanks for sharing. Many times my prayer is simply “Lord, have mercy on me.” I often imagine what my first words would be when I see Jesus face to face. I used to think I’d recall all my doubts and get them answered on the spot. But as I matured I couldn’t think of anything else except “Lord, have mercy on me.”

  4. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Any post that mentions Marvin Gaye is a highlight in my book. Thank you Mary!

  5. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Great blog, Mary. I agree that sometimes “putting on a happy face” is a great way to go through life. People don’t know the storms going on behind the façade. The price is that your internal struggles are often then not being addressed, which as I counselor, I know the turmoil that can cause. Take time for yourself – and trust that #GotsGotThis!!!

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