Last night’s presidential election proved one thing: We are living in uncertain times.
So what happens when someone’s world is turned upside down? What about when people are just afraid and need some comfort? Often they seek out help from their local church.
So what does Spiritual Leadership look like in 2016?
LISTEN: 21st Century spiritual leadership
Vince McLaren is the so-called “people’s pastor” at Surrey’s Calvary Christian Church.” He says the crazier the world gets, the more often his phone rings.
“We do get people just calling up because when the world kinda goes a little nuts people are looking for some answers and it’s one of those challenges is being able to provide comfort in dark times. But I’m more encouraged that when dark times do come up, that we are considered a point of light,” says McLaren.
“When the times are darker the light shines brighter and so even when these tragic world events do happen, [people] consider approaching the church when they might not normally do so.”
McLaren says the church has gone through ups and downs in history, and has been there for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“Whether it’s the church setting up a hospital or education facilities or reaching out to the poor, making sure the message of Jesus is the consistent thing that has gone throughout,” he says.
The Very Reverend Dr. Gary Paterson is lead Minister at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church at Burrard and Nelson in Vancouver.
He says what he’s finding as he offers spiritual leadership, is that many people are living in fear.
“They’re looking at the challenges facing us all the way from global warming, climate change to the growing inequaties of wealth which means a number of people are saying ‘that’s me, will I able to make it? Is there a job for my kids? Will my kids be able to have a home? How will they succeed?’ And at the same time a huge fear of violence and of war, small wars now compared with First and Second World Wars but we’re seeing what is happening in Iraq and Syria, the movement of refugees and again hovering over us all is the threat of nuclear war,” he says.
Paterson says the question is how to live a life of meaning, when you’re afraid the world could come crashing down around you.
“So people are looking at one level for an easy out, oh God will take care of us. I think the role of the church, mosque, synogogue, other religious institutions, is to say, no God is with us but we’re partners in that, you can’t get off the hook.”
He says the role of a spiritual leader is help people address that fear, without giving in to paralysis or hedonism, and instead rededicate themselves to their family and community.
“I think a minister’s leadership is to help people discover a life of meaning, that could be very personal, what does it mean to be loved, how to make a difference, how to primarily be connected to God but it’s so important but particularly in our times I think to recognize that there’s more to life than just you, that there is something broader and vaster and that we are connected and we belong in it.”