Plueddemann Demystified Leadership Across Culture

James Plueddemann, Leadership Across Cultures
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

James E. Plueddemann.  2009.  Leading Across Cultures:  Effective Ministry and Mission in the Global Church.  Downers Grove:  IVP Academic.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

As you exit the parking lot in my home church, a sign reads: you are now entering the mission field.   Few years back on a Sunday morning Evangelist Hussain Andaryas ( cited the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and said:  because you would not go across the seas to bring Christ to your brothers and sisters, God has given you a second chance.  Now, they live across the street from you.  Now, will you go?  Each of us, if we lead at all, must now lead across cultures.


In his book, Leading Across Cultures, James Plueddemann cites Geert Hofstede and likens leadership like learning to play an instrument and likens leadership across cultures as like learning to play several instruments (11).  For Plueddemann:  A missionary is anyone, from any country, who leaves home in order to proclaim the gospel, usually in another culture (13).  For Plueddemann, a Christian leader focuses, harmonizes, and enhances the gifts of others for their own growth while cultivating the kingdom of God (15).

From Everywhere to Everywhere

Plueddemann summarizes the challenges of multicultural leadership with a slogan—from everywhere to everywhere (25).  Mission challenges include short-term missions, church-to-church partnerships, leadership development strategies, and working under leadership of another culture (25-27).  Short-term missions, for example, imply that missions are undertaken with little or no experience with either missions or the cultures involved.  Clashes in culture are often therefore immediate and unexpected.  For example, the American assumption of “equal partners” is foreign in most of the rest of the world where the usual assumption is a senior and a junior partner (26).

Cycle of World Missions

Plueddemann envisions a cycle of world missions composed of 5 steps:

  1. Pre-evangelism,
  2. Evangelism,
  3. Church planting and nurture,
  4. Leadership development, and
  5. Partnership (48).

For Plueddemann, pre-evangelism involves both caring for people’s physical needs and their eternal needs through medical help, humanitarian relief, schools and development programs (51). Evangelism Is bringing people to Jesus and sharing the gospel:  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV; 52).  In discussing the need to plant churches, he writes:  Evangelism without discipleship is like giving birth and then leaving the baby in a dumpster.  Newborns can’t live more than a few hours without the help of a family (53).

Role of Leadership Training

On leadership, Plueddemann observes that:  Jesus taught and healed the sick, but his lasting ministry came from the training of the 12 disciples.  Leadership development was also at the core of Paul’s evangelism (55).  Leadership development naturally leads to partnership because Plueddemann observes:  mature churches are characterized as self-propagating, self-supporting, and self-governing (56).  It is indeed ironic (and a bit embarrassing) to see former mission partners now sending missionaries to North America.

Dr. James E. Plueddemann  is Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School [1] in Deerfield, Illinois just outside Chicago. Leading Across Cultures is written in 12 chapters divided into 4 parts, including:

  1. Multicultural Leadership in the Worldwide Church,
  2. Leadership and Culture,
  3. Contextualizing Leadership, and
  4. Global Leadership in Practice.

These chapters are preceded by an introduction and followed by an epilogue (7-8).

Clearly, there is not time to summarize all that Plueddemann has written.  However, I will never forget his comments specifically about culture.  He defines two concepts—context and power distance—which bear summarizing.

High and Low Context Cultures

Citing Edward Hall’s book, Beyond Culture (New York: Anchor Books,1976), Plueddeman high-context and low-context cultures.  In a high-context culture, information is passed informally with very little being communicated through formal speech.  What is important are the atmosphere of the room, the sounds, smells, facial expressions, and body language.  This is the norm in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.  In low-context cultures the opposite is true.  People pay attention to what is explicitly said.  For example, people remember ideas, but forget who said them.  Highly expressive forms of speech are valued in high-context cultures and viewed with skepticism in low-context cultures (78-79).  In low-context cultures, speaking the truth face-to-face is valued; in high-context cultures, relationships are more important and difficult conversations take place through intermediaries (81).

Power Distance

Leadership always involves use of power so attitudes about power are culturally important.   Plueddemann cites a study by Robert House (and others) called Culture, Leadership, and Organizations:  The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies (London: SAGE Publications, 2004) which defines power distance as: the degree to which members of an organization expect and agree that power should be shared unequally (94).  In a high-power distance culture, everyone agrees that leaders should have more authority, respect, and status symbols (fancy cars, expensive clothes, and so on).  In low-power distance cultures, leadership is more participatory and leaders are expected to act like a peer and have a minimum number of perks (95).

Attitudes about the role of context and power distance can be dramatically different not only internationally, but between ethnic and age groups within a society.  This is, in part, why pastors are sensitive to the style of dress and musical preferences when speaking at new churches.


Plueddemann’s writing on leadership in a cross-cultural setting is insightful.  His writing is filled with personal accounts, particularly focused on his time as a missionary in Nigeria.  However, keep in mind that he writes primarily for the seminary student and professional missionary.  The growth of North America as a mission field, however, widens the number of professionals who need to take his counsel.


 Plueddemann Demystified Leadership Across Culture

Also see:

Martinez Family Ministry: OASIS Mission in Manassas Virginia 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

Continue Reading

1 Corinthians 5: Be Holy

Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land (Exodus 12:19 ESV).

Is there any leaven in your life?

Say what?  In the middle of a discussion of sexual immorality, Paul gives us a lesson on leaven.  Jesus also talked about leaven saying:  Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod (Mark 8:15 ESV) [1].

In order to understand Paul’s point, it is helpful to distinguish leaven from yeast.  If you are confused, you are not alone—so are translators.  For example, the English Standard version translates ζύμη (v 6) as leaven while the New International Version translates it as yeast following freedom of translation in BDAG (3389 ζύμη).  Yeast is a single-cell fungi used to ferment in baking, wine making, and brewing not commonly available in ancient times.  Leaven is fermented dough.

In ancient times, leaven was kept for baking from week to week and would accumulate dirt and other impurities.  For this reason, once a year the Hebrews would toss out their leaven and start with a fresh batch (Exodus 12:19).  Paul’s lesson on leaven therefore had to do with allowing sin into your life through a gradual process of accumulation.

New York City made an interesting application of this lesson in the 1980s following the “broken glass theory”.  The basic idea was that crime is contagious.  If windows are broken and not cleaned up, people would conclude that no one cares and more windows would be broken.  Anarchy would spread.  So New York decides to launch a campaign to clean up the city block by block from 1984 to 1990.  Murder rates in New York declined by two-thirds[1].  What does the Bible say:  Be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:45 ESV).  Get out that leaven!  Sweat the little stuff!  Children—make your bed!

In the Corinthian church the lesson on leaven focused on sexual immorality.  Paul uses two closely related words to discuss immorality here.  In verse 1, he uses πορνεία and later in verses 9-11 he uses πόρνος.  The first word, πορνεία, is a general term for sexually immoral acts and Paul’s specific application is a case of incest—a man sleeping with his father’s wife (not his mother; prohibited in Leviticus 18:8).  The second word, πόρνος, more narrowly focuses on a male prostitute, but is often translated as fornicator.  A female prostitute would be πόρνης which Paul talks about in chapter 6, verse 15.

The context of his use of πόρνος is in a list of vices for which we are to disassociate ourselves from within the church.  Paul writes:  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler– not even to eat with such a one (v 11) [2].  This context is interesting because Paul is talking about people within the church—only in the church!  Paul leaves judgment of non-Christians behaving this way to God! (vv 12-13).

Is there any leaven in your life?


[1]James Emery White.  2004.  Serious Times:  Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day.  Downers Grove:  InterVarsity Press, page 158.

[2]This vice list corresponds with passages in Deuteronomy calling for the death penalty (Richard Hays. 2011.  Interpretation:  First Corinthians.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, page 87).

[1]Interestingly, verses 5-8 dealing with leaven are the only verses from chapter 5 found in the common lectionary.  Apparently, sexual immorality is not discussed in the lectionary.

Continue Reading

1 Corintios 5: Ser Santos

Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Durante siete días se abstendrán de tener levadura en sus casas. Todo el que coma algo con levadura, sea extranjero o israelita, será eliminado de la comunidad de Israel (Éxodo 12:19 NVI).

¿Hay alguna levadura en tu vida?

¿Qué dijo? En medio de una discusión de la inmoralidad sexual, Pablo nos da una lección sobre la levadura. Jesús también habló de la levadura diciendo: Tengan cuidado—les advirtió Jesús—; ¡ojo con la levadura de los fariseos y con la de Herodes! (Marco 8:15 NVI) [1].

A fin de comprender el punto de Pablo, es útil distinguir fermento de la levadura. Si usted está confundido, no estás solo, por lo que son traductores. Por ejemplo, la English Standard Version en Inglés ζύμη traduce (v 6) como la levadura (leaven), mientras que la New International Version traduce como la levadura (yeast) tras la libertad de la traducción en BDAG (3389 ζύμη). La levadura (yeast) es un hongo de una sola célula que se utilizan para fermentar en la cocción, la elaboración del vino y la cerveza no suelen estar disponibles en los tiempos antiguos. La levadura (leaven) fermenta la masa.

En la antigüedad, la levadura se mantuvo para la cocción de semana a semana y sería acumular suciedad y otras impurezas. Por esta razón, una vez al año a los hebreos sería tirar su fermento y comenzar con un nuevo lote (Éxodo 12:19). Lección de Pablo sobre la levadura, por lo tanto tuvo que ver con permitir el pecado en su vida a través de un proceso gradual de acumulación.

Ciudad de Nueva York hizo una interesante aplicación de esta lección de la década de 1980 a raíz de la “teoría de los cristales rotos“. La idea básica era que el crimen es contagioso. Si las ventanas están rotas y no se limpian, la gente llegaría a la conclusión de que a nadie le importa y más ventanas se rompería. La anarquía se extendería. Así que Nueva York decide lanzar una campaña para limpiar la cuadra por cuadra 1984-1990. Las tasas de asesinatos en Nueva York se redujo en dos tercios [2].  ¿Qué dice la Biblia:  Sean, pues, santos, porque yo soy santo. (Leviticus 11:45 NVI).  ¡Fuera que la levadura! El sudor las cosas pequeñas! Los niños-hacen su cama!

En la iglesia de Corinto la lección sobre la levadura se centró en la inmoralidad sexual. Pablo usa dos palabras estrechamente relacionadas con la inmoralidad discutir aquí. En el versículo 1, utiliza πορνεία y después en los versículos 9-11 él utiliza πόρνος. La primera palabra, πορνεία, es un término general para actos inmorales y aplicación específica de Pablo es un caso de incesto, un hombre durmiendo con la esposa de su padre (no es su madre, prohibido en Levítico 18:8). La segunda palabra, πόρνος, más concretamente se centra en un prostituto, pero a menudo se traduce como fornicador. Una prostituta se πόρνης que Pablo habla en el capítulo 6, versículo 15.

El contexto de su uso de πόρνος está en una lista de los vicios de los que somos de disociar a nosotros mismos de dentro de la iglesia. Pablo escribe:  Pero en esta carta quiero aclararles que no deben relacionarse con nadie que, llamándose hermano, sea inmoral o avaro, idólatra, calumniador, borracho o estafador. Con tal persona ni siquiera deben juntarse para comer (v 11) [3].  Este contexto es interesante debido a que Pablo está hablando de la gente dentro de la iglesia—solo en la iglesia! Paul deja el juicio de los no cristianos a comportarse de esta manera a Dios! (vv 12-13).

¿Hay alguna levadura en tu vida?


[1]Curiosamente, los versículos 5-8 frente a la levadura son los únicos versículos del capítulo 5 que se encuentran en el leccionario común. Al parecer, la inmoralidad sexual no se discute en el leccionario.

[2]James Emery White.  2004.  Serious Times:  Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day.  Downers Grove:  InterVarsity Press, page 158.

[3]Esta lista de vicios corresponde con pasajes de Deuteronomio que piden la pena de muerte (Richard Hays. 2011.  Interpretation:  First Corinthians.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, page 87).



Continue Reading

Called Again: Of Bovine and Boxers by Reid Satterfield

Reid, April, and Emma Jane Satterfield
Reid, April, and Emma Jane Satterfield

Called Again: Of Bovine and Boxers by Reid Satterfield

This morning’s guest blogger, Reid Satterfield, writes about a learning experience as a missionary in Uganda.  Reid hails from Charlotte, NC.

Reflection on Cows

One evening—when we still lived in Northwest Uganda—April and I were awakened by the sound of footfalls just outside of our bedroom window.  Alarmed, I jumped out of bed, grabbed a tire iron, and rushed to our front door.  At that moment I was aware that the source of the noise was on the other side of the door.  Bracing for the worst, I opened the door to—of all things—the rear-end of a cow.  Peering around his hindquarters, I could see him munching on our grass, oblivious to me and to the fact that he’d just desecrated my doorstep and—nearly—my feet.  Agitated, I traded the tire iron for a walking stick and laid into that mangy cow.

As the cow galloped away, I returned to bed, satisfied he would not return and grateful for the ebony walking stick—a gift from an elder of a nearby clan.  Sadly, I enjoyed my satisfaction only a moment.  Within minutes the cow had returned and, again, I had to chase him out of my yard.  This cycle was repeated.  The third time he returned I was so angry that I ran outside, stick in hand, and chased that cow for about 100 meters.

Unexpected Outcome

When I came to my senses, I found myself in overgrowth—where recently I’d had a Wild Kingdom experience with rats and a large black mamba (an aggressive and highly poisonous snake)—wearing only boxer shorts and flip-flops. Chastened, I returned home to a rather amused wife and with another “teachable moment” to ponder.

Following Christ is not always glamorous…it can be downright degrading.  But, these little humiliations that we endure in Christ highlight an oft-overlooked truth that self-regard and humility do not go together.  Following Christ is a “downwardly mobile” pathway [1]. To serve Christ is to count yourself as the least among many; to serve Christ is to put other people’s needs ahead of your own.

So brothers and sisters, accept life’s many humiliations as Christ’s provision for the journey; a journey from self-regard to humility. 

The Apostle Paul’s Words to the Church at Philippi

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-8).


I grew up in Hampstead, NC, a small fishing community located in the southeast corner of the state.  Here I spent endless hours outdoors, fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring the salt marshes of the barrier islands. Through conversation and commitment, my mother and father introduced me to Jesus Christ.

During my last two years at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, I committed myself to a life of following Christ and got involved with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF;  Here I developed an inner joy in being discipled and discipling others. My wife, April, and I met in IVCF and we ached to serve Christ in overseas missions. When we married in June of 1996, we were already on our way becoming missionaries.

Mission to Uganda

April and I were missionaries with the African Inland Mission ( from 1998 to 2001.  Our daughter, Emma Jane, was born  in northwestern Uganda in August of 2000.  Working among the Aringa people, an unreached tribe along the Congo and Sudan borders, our dream was to share Christ’s love with people previously familiar only with famine, war, and exile.  We loved our little mud-brick house in the bush and planned to make it our life’s work.

In January 2001, rebel troops ambushed, shot, and left for dead a friend and I.  We survived miraculously, but my wounds forced us to return to the states in February.  A year later I entered Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary ( in Charlotte, NC and later (2004-2012) coordinated of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building for the Charlotte and Jacksonville campuses.

St. Patrick’s Anglican Mission

Today, I serve as the Coordinator of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation at St. Patrick’s Anglican Mission ( I also serve as a certified lecturer for Perspectives, a nationwide organization that provides churches with educational resources for engaging in world missions and provide spiritual direction to various leaders in and around the Charlotte Metro area.

[1]  Henri Nouwen.  2007. The Selfless Way of Christ:  Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life.  Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books. (


Also see:

Reid Satterfield Commencement Address at GCTS 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

Continue Reading

Nouwen: Be Mastered by the Holy Spirit

Henri Nouwen, The Selfless Way of Christ
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Nouwen: Be Mastered by the Holy Spirit

Henri Nouwen.  2007.  The Selfless Way of Christ:  Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

My first ministry as an adult in the early 1980s was a summer program for high school and college age students.  As my kids began graduating and taking up life as adults, I noticed a disturbing trend.  The majority of them—those not disciplined enough to stay in school to earn a professional degree—had to leave Northern Virginia because the cost of living was simply too high. I coined the phrase, downward mobility, to describe the generational schism this dilemma caused.


Until I heard about Henri Nouwen’s book, The Selfless Way of Christ:  Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life, I had never heard anyone else use my phrase—downward mobility.  For Nouwen, downward mobility is conscious decision to resist the idolatry of a lifestyle focused on upward mobility (27) and simply to imitate Christ (38).  Nouwen writes:  The Holy Spirit leads us on the downward way, not to cause us to suffer or to subject us to pain and humiliation, but rather to help us to see God present in the midst of our struggles (47).  The Apostle Paul summed it up this way:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).

At one point, my church used this last sentence (I can do all things through him who strengthens me) as a tie-shirt slogan for our Vacation Bible School camp.  These words are powerful encouragement for those of us traveling the downward way.

Leadership Temptations

Satan tempts us daily to return to the path of upward mobility.  Following Luke 4, Nouwen (49) sees Satan’s three primary temptations in ministry as:

  1. The temptation to be relevant (turn stones into bread);
  2. The temptation to be spectacular (throw yourself off the temple); and
  3. The temptation to be powerful (rule as king) [1].


This first temptation can be the source of a lot of pain.  Nouwen (50) observes:  Doctors can heal; lawyers can defend; bankers can finance; social workers can restructure; but what can you [as Christian,  minister, or pastor] do?  Our natural tendency is to fix things; not to trust in God’s transforming power.

Draw Attention to Ourselves

The second temptation is to focus on ourselves and serve our own needs for attention and acceptance.  Here we need to make space for God in our own lives so that he can use us to be present in the lives of the people around us (58).  Nouwen commends a life of intimate communion with God through the disciplines of solitude, silence, and prayer (59).  If our ministry is not about God, it will ultimately become tiresome and pointless.


The third temptation is to be powerful.  Nouwen observes that:  Power can take many forms:  money, connections, fame, intellectual ability, skills (61).  We want to be in control.  To be a servant of Christ, Nouwen reminds us, is to be a [humble] friend of Christ (65).


Nouwen observes that the tension between our vocation as Christians and these temptations is a lifelong challenge (69).  Discipline is required but:  The discipline of  the Christian disciple is not to master anything [like an athlete, student, or professional] but rather to be mastered by the Spirit (70).  Nouwen highlights these 3 disciplines:

  1. The discipline of the church;
  2. The discipline of the book; and
  3. The discipline of the heart (71).


For Nouwen, a Catholic priest, the discipline of the church is to re-enact, to be, and to celebrate the Christ event.  Liturgical discipline focuses on the Christ event—God breaking into human history (73).  We must create time and space in our lives for God.  In this sense, the church is our spiritual director (74).


The discipline of the book is for Nouwen necessarily an act not just of reading but of mediating on scripture.  The phrase, Christ is the word of God, is not just high rhetoric; Christ is the word become flesh (77-78).  We must chew the word (78).  The angel tells the Apostle John:  take and eat (Revelation 10:9).  It must become part of us.  Otherwise, the mere words of scripture will become an instrument of Satan (82).


For Nouwen, the discipline of the heart is personal prayer (82). The discipline of prayer leads us unromantically, ceremonially to the heart of God (87). This is not about rewards, personal acclaim, helpful projects, or even inner peace (83); this not about personal revelations or sensations (89). Time with God strips all of this away. In prayer, our questions over time morph into our answers (87).

The point of each of these disciplines is, of course, to walk the path of downward mobility to preserver in resisting temptation.


I return to Nouwen’s writing periodically as a personal reminder to make time and space for the Holy Spirit in my busy life.  Reminders are imperative for me.  The fact that Nouwen abandoned a comfortable life as a Harvard academic in 1986 to work with special needs individuals in a D’Arche community gives his advice on downward mobility unique credibility.  Spirituality is not a hobby-horse of convenience; it is a life commitment.  I commend this book to your own reading and mediation.

[1] Also see:  Henri Nouwen.  1989.  In the Name of Jesus:  Reflections on Christian Leadership.  New York:  Crossroads Book.



Also see:

Nouwen: Make Space for Self, Others, and God 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

Continue Reading

1 Corinthians 4: Fools for Christ

Albrecht Dürer, Ship of Fools, 1494
Albrecht Dürer, Ship of Fools, 1494

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23 ESV).

Are you a good example?

When I finished my doctorate in 1985, a friend gave me a reprint of a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer called, Ship of Fools (1494), which hangs in my home office. At the time, I worked for the government and the woodcut seemed to be a parody of my office life. Later, in reading a book written on the history of insanity[1], I found reference to my woodcut. In the Middle Ages in Europe, the insane were set adrift on ships—presumably for their own good! Today, we let them wander the streets (and, periodically lock them up for a few days if they misbehave)—presumably to enjoy their legal rights!

The Apostle Paul writes: We are fools for Christ’s sake…To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless … (vv 10-11).  Which of us have been homeless for the Gospel?  Which of us, fools for Christ?

Paul applies different titles to the Christian:  helpers and trustees (v 1); apostles, death-row inmates, and spectacles (in other words, gladiators; v 9); fools, weaklings, fashion-challenged, disreputable, and street people (vv 10-11); blue-collar types, the reviled, the persecuted, the slandered, human garbage, and scum (vv 12-13); and beloved children (v 14).  Do you suppose that Paul was having a bad-hair day?

Paul was making the point that the behavior of the Corinthians was inconsistent with the evangelists, especially Paul, who had brought them to Christ.  He writes, for example: We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute (v 10).  Jesus himself said:  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27 ESV).  Clearly, the Corinthians were out of sync with Gospel teaching.  Are we any different?

One of the hardest admonitions is simply to be a good example.  Without even defining what it means to be good, people run away.  How many athletes and other celebrities haven’t uttered the words:  I am no role model—as if they could wish being a role model away!

What does Jesus say to the disciples?  Follow me! (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17; Luke 5:27; John 1:43).  Consequently, when Paul (v 16) writes—imitate me—he is not bragging; he is simply reframing Christ’s own words.

Are you a good example?  Am I?

[1]The premise of the book was that the treatment of the insane is a mirror on society.  Michael Foucault. 1988.  Madness and Civilization:  A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason.  New York:  Vintage Books.

Continue Reading

1 Corintios 4: Locos por Cristo

Albrecht Dürer, Ship of Fools, 1494
Albrecht Dürer, Ship of Fools, 1494

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Si alguien quiere ser mi discípulo, que se niegue a sí mismo, lleve su cruz cada día y me siga (Lucas 9:23 NVI)

¿Eres un buen ejemplo?

Cuando terminé mi doctorado en 1985, un amigo me dio una reimpresión de un grabado de Alberto Durero llamado, barco de los locos (1494), que cuelga en mi oficina en casa. En ese momento, yo trabajaba para el gobierno y la xilografía parecía ser una parodia de mi vida en la oficina. Más tarde, en la lectura de un libro escrito sobre la historia de la locura, me encontré con referencia a mi xilografía[1]. En la Edad Media en Europa, los locos estaban a la deriva en barcos—presumiblemente por su propio bien! Hoy en día, dejamos vagar por las calles (y, bloquean periódicamente ellos durante unos días si se portan mal)–presumiblemente para disfrutar de sus derechos legales!

El Apostol Pablo escribe: ¡Por causa de Cristo, nosotros somos los ignorantes …

Hasta el momento pasamos hambre … (vv 10-11). ¿Cuál de nosotros ha estado sin hogar por el Evangelio? ¿Quién de nosotros, necios por Cristo?

Pablo aplica diferentes títulos para el cristiano: ayudantes y administradores (v 1), apóstoles, los condenados a muerte, y los espectáculos (en otras palabras, los gladiadores; v 9); tontos, débiles, desafió la moda, de mala reputación, y la gente de la calle (vv 10-11), los tipos de cuello azul, el denostado, los perseguidos, los calumniados, basura humana, y la espuma (vv 12-13), y amados hijos (v 14). ¿Pensáis que Pablo estaba teniendo un día malo?

Pablo estaba haciendo el punto de que el comportamiento de los corintios era incompatible con los evangelistas, especialmente Pablo, que los había sacado a Cristo. Escribe, por ejemplo: ¡Por causa de Cristo, nosotros somos los ignorantes; ustedes, en Cristo, son los inteligentes! ¡Los débiles somos nosotros; los fuertes son ustedes! ¡A ustedes se les estima; a nosotros se nos desprecia! (v 10). Jesús mismo dijo: Y el que no carga su cruz y me sigue, no puede ser mi discípulo (Lucas 14:27 NVI). Es evidente que los corintios estaban fuera de sincronía con la enseñanza del Evangelio. ¿Somos diferentes?

Una de las advertencias más duras es simplemente ser un buen ejemplo. Sin ni siquiera intentar definir lo que significa ser bueno, la gente huye de la idea. ¿Cuántos atletas y otras celebridades no han pronunciado las palabras: Yo no soy modelo a seguir–como si pudieran desear ser un modelo de distancia!

¿Qué dice Jesús a sus discípulos ? ¡Sígueme! (Mateo 4:19; Marcos 1:17; Lucas 5:27; Juan 1:43). En consecuencia, cuando Paul (v 16) escribe–imitar me–no es alardear, sino que simplemente se reencuadre propias palabras de Cristo.

¿Eres un buen ejemplo? ¿Soy yo?

[1] La premisa del libro es que el tratamiento de los enfermos mentales es un espejo de la sociedad.  Michael Foucault. 1988.  Madness and Civilization:  A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason.  New York:  Vintage Books.

Continue Reading

My Life as a College Student by Frank Hiemstra

Photo of Frank Hiemstra
Frank Hiemstra

Our guest blogger this morning is Frank Hiemstra from Centreville, VA.

My Life as a College Student

When I came to college, I wanted thrill and adventure.  I thought I could fulfill these desires by partying, getting good grades, getting girls … getting mine.  Things worked that way for a while, but I was never satisfied.

All that changed in the fall of freshman year.  I met Jesus Christ and found a fulfillment that does not go away. God told me clearly that He loves me and that I have a purpose in life–to glorify and enjoy Him.  And knowing my past, if He can love me, He can love anyone.

And now, wrapping up senior year, I see that Christ uses 4 things to shape me:

  1. In time spent alone with Him, He tells me He loves me.
  2. In my local Church, He builds me up.
  3. In my community of friends and believers, He encourages me. And
  4. In ministry, I get to tell the world how much Jesus loves them.

First, there is nothing like spending intimate, quality time with God.  Here, God builds me up; His Spirit gives me real life; and He shares His promises:

  1. That He loves me unconditionally,
  2. That I have eternal life,
  3. That He has plans for me,
  4. That He will never forsake me.

College students often believe that they are too busy to spend time with the Lord.  That is a lie.  College is a time for the Creator of the world to tell us why He made us and fill us up with His Spirit.  Reading the Bible is not just another thing to check off our list; it brings us life and the energy to overcome each new day’s challenges.

Second, every Sunday my friends and I go to Jefferson Park Baptist Church (  Church gets me out of the college bubble and I get to see real people:  families with kids; adults with jobs. What a blessing–it’s the best part of my week!  These are people who have experienced the same pressures and temptations of college life with friends, wild parties, and grades that I am experiencing.  Having been through it, they are able to offer me valuable wisdom and advice.

Third, every night I come home to a house of college guys seeking God just like me.  Not only are these dudes fun–joking around, throwing dance parties, and playing Super Smash Bros on N64–they are also committed to Christ and they push me towards Him.  They hold me accountable; listen to me; and walk alongside me as I follow Christ.  God never wants us to be alone.  I love how we get to do it together.

Lastly, sharing the Good News with others and being God’s hands and feet on earth is a great privilege.  I volunteer as a Young Life leader at Charlottesville High School (  With Young Life, I build relationships with high school students and share Jesus’ unconditional love.  Last fall, a friend met Jesus and his life changed forever right before my eyes–it was just like when I met Jesus for the first time.  This experience enriched my own relationship with Christ and it convinced me that leading Young Life is the best thing that I’ve done in college.

Do you want thrills?  There is no greater thrill in college than experiencing the God of the universe show up in your life.


Frank is a senior studying electronic engineering at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.  Frank volunteers as a leader with Young Life (  In his free time, he plays basketball, Spades, and the game board–Settlers of Catan.  Frank is a graduate of Chantilly High School.

Continue Reading