Future Now: Leading with Humility


To lead well in 2020 and beyond will require a new level of listening and learning.

“This is not what I signed up for,” a pastor recently said to me—and I get it. Most of us signed up for the kind of ministry where we preach and teach the Bible, share the gospel, people respond by grace through faith—and then we shepherd our people. We would do the things that pastors do and have done for centuries.

Then 2020 came along and wrecked our plans.

Ross Douthat wrote an article in the New York Times describing how suddenly it seems we’re in 2030 (“Waking Up in 2030,” July 27, 2020). The suspended time of the pandemic put history on fast forward. The challenges we face are complex.

Recently I talked with a pastor who holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge—a highly educated, pastor-scholar. We talked about things that we both enjoy, like different approaches to theology and culture.

Our conversation soon turned to issues like transgenderism, race and politics. And I said to him, “Neither of us prepared in school for many of the conversations we are having now.”

And we’ve only just begun.

Time for Engagement Not Isolation

None of us can ignore the issues at work here, and the people involved.

For example, systemic racism is real and needs our response. I joined faith leaders at a march in the area of Chicago called Bronzeville, a predominantly African American neighborhood. I marched up front, next to James Meeks, the pastor of Salem Baptist Church and a trustee of Moody Bible Institute, and Charlie Dates, a well-known pastor and leader. I marched with them and spoke up about racial injustice and brokenness because it matters.

The next day, we had another event closer to home. One of the marchers held a sign saying “Black Trans Women” and shouted concerns about …

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