Launching fireworks is one of my favorite ways to celebrate our country’s Declaration of Independence. With The 4th just a couple of days away, I can’t stop thinking about an important Chinese holiday called National Day. I learned about National Day last October 1st, while witnessing the largest fireworks show in the world. This Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives Program is a God given gift to me. That night, sipping wine and eating expensive cheeses while feeling the boom of the colorful explosions on the penthouse balcony of the Mariners Hotel overlooking Victoria Bay, is just one of many experiences this past year that have helped transform my life and leadership.
That night was my last night of our Hong Kong Advance where I journeyed for two weeks with my cohort, teachers, mentors and top notched advisors and guest speakers. I am a working priest in Los Angeles. This means I lead a globalized church and I lead classes filled with high school students from all over the world. I joined this program to become better at both, and research how to help other pastors who have jobs outside their churches succeed as well.
The Hong Advance exposed me to redefining experiences. Listening to lectures at St. Stephen’s Seminary, interacting with the staffs in some of Hong Kong’s mega-churches, worshiping bilingually with recovering addicts at Jackie Pullinger’s place, eating lunches with mentors, navigating public transportation, and late night German pub informal debriefs, each served to refashion my perspective. One of the best and strongest legs of this program is making an international city the “campus” for the year. Brilliant! My time in Hong Kong will forever hold a place of honor in my heart.
This year I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting weekly with my cohort. My journey mates are a microcosm of this international program. We each come from different walks of life with varying experiences and Christian-tribe affiliations. This is a gift because we met weekly online to discuss our current readings, research, and life. If a city can be a campus, then why can’t a classroom morph into a campfire? Most pastors and teachers dread Mondays. Not me! I look forward to 7am every Monday because I get to interact with my fellow DMin travelers. For an hour, lead by our lead mentor, Jason, I am challenged, encouraged, mentally stretched and connected.
Another highlight of this past year has been the assigned readings and blog interactions. I look forward to Mondays, but Thursdays have become my new “fav-day.” Thursday is when our blogs based on the book we read are posted. Basically a book-blog-a-week. Then we spend the weekend reading and commenting on our cohort’s blogs. This is a great way to learn. We’ve read a lot of books about a plethora of topics; theology, leadership, social geography, history, cultural intelligence, collateral damage, evangelicalism, current events, and immigrants living in London (I CAN’T WAIT FOR LONDON!) to name a few. These readings and blog-conversations provide me with the tools to become an effective leader in a globalized world.
The last life-changing aspect to this past year has been working with the faculty and staff of George Fox Seminary(or as it is simply and affectionately known in my home…Foxy. For example, one of my daughters will ask, “Dad are you almost done with your assignment for Foxy?”). Not only has every interaction, face-to-face, email, text, Campfire, FaceTime or Skype, been professional, but each has also been personal. Questions are answered expeditiously, mentors inspire, advisors, both permanent and guests, have each been challenging and helpful. In other words, the people who are leading me are examples themselves of practicing top-notch leadership.
As a working priest who holds two jobs, enjoys a strong marriage, and who is currently parenting four teenagers, this program has been nothing but a genuine gift from God to me. I am thankful and I pray that I continue to be changed through this gift.