DMINLGP

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

We’re gangly.

Written by: on October 10, 2019

I was never a gangly teenager. Sure, I was awkward, and unsure, and brash, but never gangly. My husband, however, was very gangly. While I never knew him in that time, I see pictures that go from boyish bowl cuts to all neck with a protruding adam’s apple in the span of one school year. We’ve all been around those junior high and high school students who sprouted up overnight and no longer know the reach of their arm, the tone of their voice, or the nature of their gate. They’re tall, thin, sparse, and so awkward. While I had my suspicions after London, Oxford, and Paris, Frankopan sealed our fate for me as a gangly, teenage America.

 

Frankopan, in The Silk Roads, set before him the yeoman’s task of tracing the history of the bridge between the east and the west, proving the point time after time, that in the West, we have an incredibly one-sided view of history.[1] I’ll be honest, the history that Frankopan defends in earnest, is not a history I am familiar with. It’s a history that goes for three-fifths of 650 pages before getting to my country. And while I’m not completely ignorant of life outside of and prior to the discovery of the land mass later to become the United States, I’ll admit that I’m not as well-versed as I should be. My guess is that I am not alone in my inferior knowledge of pre-1492 history, and Frankopan did a good job of putting my education in it’s place. Learning about the spine of Asia and the way it’s supported the rest of our world for centuries, coupled with seeing other global cities (albeit still Western cities) up close the last few weeks, reminded me that we may not be as far along as we think we are, America. I think we’re in the gangly teenager phase. From oil, to fashion, to computer parts,[2] it’s obvious that the Silk Roads are re-emerging in ways that help Western countries like mine, remember our place in the world. The way we’ve viewed ourselves as the penultimate nation, much like the gangly, often self-centered teenager views themselves in their household, has to change if we are going to grow and mature. Power is shifting, and our epitome of gangly teenage leadership we have in this country, is tipping the balance into the hands of the East faster and faster.

 

I wonder what we are to do? My guess is to give it time. Although it feels like we have less and less of it, time is what brings growth and maturity. Time is what helps us move from awkward and unrefined, to grounded and articulate. I look at my husband today and don’t see bowl cuts and cracking voices – but I see a man who is sure of himself and his place in the world. He maintains a solid foundation and knows that is a citizen of both America and the Kingdom of Heaven. He understands that he has power, but he also willingly lays it down for the sake of his God, his marriage, his children, and so many others. He’s moved past is physical awkwardness to a strength that comes from within. I think what we need is time – time to develop and mature into a new phase. One that is marked by understanding our strength, but maintains a desire to lay it down for the good of those around us. I just hope we have some time left.

——-

[1] Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (New York, NY: First Vintage Books Edition, 2017), Loc. 199.

[2] Ibid., 517.

About the Author

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Karen Rouggly

Karen Rouggly is the Director for Mobilization in the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific University. She develops transformational experiences for students serving locally, nationally, and internationally. She completed an MA in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about community development, transformational service and helping students understand vocation and service. Karen is also an active member at the Vineyard Church Glendora where she is a small group leader and serves on the teaching team. She is also a mom to two sweet boys, wife to an amazing guy, and loves being a friend to many.

13 responses to “We’re gangly.”

  1. Good stuff Karen. I like how you compared the U.S. to a young teenager in terms of age. With your help, influence and leadership, my prayer for you is that God grants you wider opportunities to serve in His kingdom here by mentoring young leaders at APU to make an impact for Christ.

    That’s the only way I see positive change happening, starting with our local community to the ends of the earth, to the glory of God.

    • mm Karen Rouggly says:

      Thanks be to God! I definitely value the roles we all have in shaping future generations of leaders – from our college students to our children!

  2. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    I hope we have time left too Karen! Great post . . . and great husband!

  3. Thank You Karen for this great post, you’ve reminded me how ignorance can lead one to having the wrong perspective of himself/herself. The silk roads had alot of influence in the history of our country including our national language, Swahili but I’m persuaded that Christianity and its influence in the future of our work. Christianity was very instrumental in the rise of the Western Civilization and ignoring its place in influencing the future of the world, is a big ommission.

    • mm Karen Rouggly says:

      Wallace – I see your point in the oversight of this perspective in Frankopan’s work. I will admit though, I am challenged by hearing about the development of other faiths throughout history. I think again, as Christians, we tend to favor a one-sided perspective of history and contextually place what we know of Jesus in a context that maybe is richer and deeper and more historical than we originally thought. I this book still provides insights into the time that Jesus was living and maybe gives us a bigger picture of just how counter-cultural he was!

  4. Thank You Karen for this great post, you’ve reminded me how ignorance can lead one to having the wrong perspective of himself/herself. The silk roads had alot of influence in the history of our country including our national language, Swahili but I’m persuaded that Christianity and its influence in the future of our work. Christianity was very instrumental in the rise of the Western Civilization and ignoring its place in influencing the future of the world, is a big omission.

  5. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Really good, Karen, great metaphor. Psychologist John Townsend in his book, How People Grow, says the three things that bring about growth are time, grace, and truth. It takes intentionality through time or I wonder if we don’t just morph rather than grow. I pray America truly grows and matures.

    • mm Karen Rouggly says:

      You’re so right, Tammy! That time has to be intentionally cultivated! We all know how easy it is to sit down to check social media to find an inordinate number of hours have passed! Thanks for this book recommendation – definitely one to add to the “post doc” list 🙂

  6. Mario Hood says:

    Awesome post. This is what I love about a global program it exposes me to new things that open my mind and how closed-minded I can be. Maturity doesn’t just come it must be developed, so here’s to being some Americans who want to be developed!

  7. mm Mary Mims says:

    Great post, Karen. The old people used to tell kids that were arrogant that they were “smelling themselves”. It’s kind of a funny saying to let a kid know that they really are not all they think they are. I think America is that way as well. Just going to England we see how young our country really is. We have a long way to go, let’s pray we make it!

  8. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Karen,
    Thanks for the helpful analogy! I wonder what God wants to accomplish through this land we call the United States of America? How do we move past the gangly stage? I wonder…

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