DMINLGP

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

Whirlwind: Two Years in Review

Written by: on February 20, 2017

I am not perhaps the typical candidate for a Doctor of Ministry program. While I completed my undergraduate degree in Christian Education, and started a career in ministry, God led me to the field of social work, where I completed my Master’s degree, have worked in the field for 25 years, and now am an Assistant Professor at a Lutheran university. To advance in my teaching career, I needed to obtain a terminal degree (I do love that term, “terminal degree”). I looked at various Ph.D. programs in social work, public health and education and found that the research focus in many of these programs was dry and not engaging. At this point in my life and career, I want what I do to have meaning. I am a person who develops programs and implements new ideas. The research offered in those programs did not support that approach.

And then I stumbled upon George Fox’s DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives (LGP). Over the past eight years, I have become involved in some international work, and taken students on learning trips to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The LGP program was pitched to me as an opportunity to help local initiatives make global investments. I have not been disappointed.

Key concepts, ideas, methodologies
The Lead Mentor, Jason Clark, set forth a rigorous course of reading. Over the past two years we have read over fifty books and articles covering topics from critical thinking, learning to observe through ethnography, theology, culture, social theory, leadership, the development of western thought, society and economics, and the spread of Christianity throughout the world. We have learned to consider the context of a given society in order to discern how best to lead and to communicate the truth of the gospel.

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If our reading had just been about reading and reporting on the books, it might have been a bit dry. However, each week we posted a blog about our key understandings of the reading, and how we might apply the reading in our context. By we, I mean myself and each member of my cohort. We then read one another’s work and engaged in thoughtful commentary with one another, followed by a weekly on-line chat in which we explored each subject together. This interaction not only deepened my learning, by gaining insight from others, but helped us to develop growing relationships with one another.

What surprised me?
I found out that I’m a bit of a nerd. I have always enjoyed learning and developing new ideas which can then be applied in my work and teaching. But I found myself excited more and more by the broad range of thoughts that we explored. I never really thought of myself as an intellectual but I kind of like it. Not only has our reading been insightful, but we have interacted with some great thinkers who have challenged me to dig even deeper.

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The learning has been outstanding, but perhaps what has surprised me more has been the depth of friendship that I have developed with the various members of my cohort. We have shared major life changes, supported one another in our study, traveled together, and pray for one another. I have gained a community of friends whom I cherish.

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What changed me?
I have always found myself trying to understand points of view different than my own, but through this program, I have gained an even greater comfort with ambiguity. “The Christian understanding of both divine and human natures is such that – if it is right – we are unable to grasp the full reality of God. Can the human mind ever hope to comprehend something which must ultimately lie beyond its ability to enfold?” [1] In reading and wrestling with both the assigned work and my own research, I have found comfort in that while I may not always agree, nor understand, I have security in my life, ministry and work in the greatness of our God; in a faith that supersedes the logic of man yet a God who is faithful all the same.

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How do I lead differently?
I have been in leadership all of my adult life. I think what has changed in me over these past two years is two-fold. First, I am more aware of those around me and how I can lift them up so that they, also, might lead and serve according to their gifts, talents and passions, especially those who perhaps have not been given equal space at the table. Second, I need less. I have grown in my confidence in our Lord. It is simply a pleasure to serve in whatever way that He might allow. I don’t need recognition or title or position. I just want to serve. And I think that has made me a better leader.

[1] Alistair McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (5th Edition), West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. p. 234.

About the Author

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Julie Dodge

Julie loves coffee and warm summer days. She is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Concordia University, Portland, a consultant for non-profit organizations, and a leader at The Trinity Project.

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