Spiritual Leadership in an Increasingly Fragmented World, Part 1

I’ve always said ministry isn't for cowards. I believe this is more true today than ever before.

Over the past year, I’ve noted an interesting increase in the calls I’ve received from ministry leaders struggling with how to manage and resolve increasing tensions with and between frustrated church members, leaders, pastors and congregations.   

I don’t believe that the pandemic can be blamed for all of the increase in leadership challenges; although the increase in global uncertainty along with a growing, generalized distrust in others, without a doubt, have contributed.

I think it’s safe to suspect that the growing political polarization our country has experienced is indeed having an effect on how all people — not just Adventists — think and feel about themselves, about “others” and about what is needed to bring about homeostasis to our communities, our country and our planet.

Unfortunately, we cannot leave our deeply ingrained belief systems behind when we travel to work, to church, back home … or anywhere else, for that matter.

We carry the unrest of our incubated thoughts, belief systems and consequential emotions with us everywhere we go.

Our pent-up unrest seems to build, just waiting for a trigger to warrant the release some of the pressure, that unbeknownst to most of us, has actually been building up since childhood. Most of humanity has been imprinted with the unrest of well-intentioned parents who were also experiencing unrest in their own personal and professional lives.

It reminds me a little of the social climate Jesus was born into.

Talk about polarization and unrest. You had the Romans who ruled with a cruel fist because they whole-heartedly believed they were a superior nation who had earned the right to use their authoritative, abuse-laden power stick over all non-Romans. 

On the other side, you had the Jewish people being “spiritually led” by highly educated pretenders who were so self-deceived, that they believed, due to their intellectual, spiritual and genetic superiority, were alone, the heirs of God’s love and promises. Thus, they could intellectualize and spiritualize their deep disdain towards every human who was not a pure-bred Israelite.

Both sides, bursting with ethnic and national pride, believed they were all that.

Both believed they alone, held the solution for the social and political ails of that time.

In the midst of this growing national and social unrest, Jesus — the Son of God — appeared as a human infant; the most vulnerable and helpless stage in the human cycle to come show us helpless humans, the way, the truth and the life.

Even at this most unthreatening stage of development, His arrival arose the rage of the Satanic forces, who realized, much to their chagrin, that the “fullness of time” prophesied, had finally arrived to disempower their dark kingdom.

The Son of God was manifested “that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

The arch enemy of God, while highly shrewd and cunning, is not nearly as creative.

One of the shrewdest “works of the devil” is to convince humans that they are, due to their ethnic heritage, nationality, social position or education, superior to the rest of God’s created beings.

While we are all unique and beloved masterpieces, weaved delicately by the design of God, nothing about us brands us as superior to any other brother or sister in the sight of Jehovah.

As the good news xpersonified, Jesus Christ came to destroy the demonic pride that our fallen ancestors inherited and generously passed on to us. 

Are you growing tired of the partisan rhetoric?

Jesus, in His invitation to all who are weary and heavy laden, invites us to learn of Him.

He invites us into a deep relationship with Him. Through His grace alone, He can demolish all concealed and revealed manifestations of pride and open our eyes and hearts to the deep love and affection He holds for every single human being He has created.

Jesus knows the most potent antidote to human pride is the embodiment of the humility and meekness He personified. He also knows the only hope of humanity is through an authentic, transformational oneness with Him.

Are you growing fatigued of the personal and collective unrest hanging, like an ominous cloud, over our communities, country and planet?

Jesus invites me, He invites you and anyone feeling fatigued to enroll in the “School of Christ.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you and LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30 NIV)

I invite you to continue to lift up Jesus, like never before! Let’s pass this Good News forward!

We could all use some rest for our souls.


César De León

North Pacific Union vice president for Hispanic ministries and ministerial director