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By Diana Kim

Photo by Terry Alexander

What makes a good leader? It’s not just about knowledge or authority. It is about empathy, being able to walk in and understand the experiences and struggles of others. Given the current state of the world, and all the hate we are witnessing throughout the country, empathy is all the more necessary for spiritual leaders to truly connect with their communities and congregations. 

In my own experiences, both as a leader and as a disciple/follower/mentee, the most honest relationships were had when moments of genuine vulnerability and empathy were shared, by both the leader and the disciple. For example, it was encouraging to know that the person I looked up to also struggled, that they didn’t have all the answers. While I did often seek the “right” answer from them, it was in the struggle that the truth was realized, though I would only realize this in hindsight. Knowing that my leader was human did not make me belittle them or trust in them less; it was just the opposite.

When was the last time you were truly honest and vulnerable with the people you were leading? It may seem easier to lead with a facade, with a mask, through which no one can see our true selves. We lead with our best foot forward and with a demeanor of perfection so that people can always “look up” to us. When I think about Jesus, and the leader He is, yes, He is a leader who is perfect; but He is also a leader who is vulnerable and honest, who has great empathy for His disciples and the people He is ministering to. Jesus cried and mourned in front of His disciples. Jesus expressed anger and frustration in front of His disciples. 

While leaders should not be constantly laying their baggage onto their communities in a toxic manner, leaders should be vulnerable: leaders are human beings and their communities need to know that. If we cannot confess that we are human – that we are flawed, that we have emotions, that we struggle, that we are imperfect – then we fail as leaders.

This past year has been difficult on so many fronts: COVID-19, politics, riots, racism, violence. If we cannot be vulnerable about what we are experiencing, what we have felt and thought while going through such tough times, we fail to relate to the realities of those we lead, those in our communities, those entrusted to our care. We fail to be relevant leaders. Our vulnerability and our ability to genuinely empathize begins with acknowledging the mess we are living in, naming it, and sharing our experiences of it, even when we do not have all the answers.

Diana Kim is a pastor of a local Korean church in Torrance, CA. Her primary goals in serving are to teach and equip the next generation to be passionate for Jesus and to live out His passion and care for the world. Diana is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary and is majoring in Christian Ethics. Her current research area of interest is Asian American feminist ethics.

By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by carulmare

When Jesus called Simon to be his disciple, he told Simon he would be called Peter — Peter the leader of the early church. Jesus did not interview Simon for his IQ, EQ, talents, qualifications, and experiences. Simon did not write a thesis or pass an examining board to get his credentials to become Peter, the leader. If one were to check Simon Peter’s performance along the way, he had failed miserably — right after he aced the question of who Jesus was, he flunked by rebuking Jesus’ mission to the cross; he failed to grasp the meaning behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet; he used his self-will to defend Jesus with a sword but denied him with his mouth. Despite all these “failures,” Jesus chose Simon and formed him to become Peter.

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By Joy Wong

Photo by GoToVan

This month, our writers were asked to reflect on the relevancy of worship. For the first half of the month, our reflections revolved around the challenges of personal and corporate worship in the midst of the pandemic, with churches shut down and community limited. However, upon the mass shootings on three spas and massage parlors in Atlanta on March 16th that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, our reflections took a different turn, in grappling with how to worship amidst the collective trauma of the Asian and Asian American community — and in particular, we as Asian American women.

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By Liz Chang

Photo by Steven Pisano


“It’s more of the same and yet different” were the words that echoed in a text message I received from a friend reaching out to show support and care this past week. More of the same racism, violence, and byproduct of white supremacy. And yet different in the racial identity of those targeted this time. The news was fresh: a white man targeted massage parlors in the Atlanta area and killed eight people, six of which were Asian women. Another shooting, another incidence of violence that reveals the deeply seeded impact and influence of white supremacy as it entrenches the dimensions and intersections of race, occupation, sexuality, religion, gender, age, and socioeconomics in the U.S. 

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By Emi Iwanaga

Photo by Mark Gunn

“Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” -Robert Webber

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Thankful for the sweetness of silence in His presence.

Silence elevates the soul to worship.

Unspeakable adoration, exaltation, magnification overflows

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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by home thods

As many of us know, the pandemic has shifted our understanding of what is “normal” and has without a doubt impacted all areas of our life. Last month, many of my Asian American sisters reflected upon what it means to have faith during these times of uncertainty.  Now we shift to what it means to worship.  While I reflect upon this theme of worship relevancy, what stands out to me the most is that while faith is something intangible that we all possess, worship is a verb that indicates action.  Another way I look at it is, How do I take something intangible such as my faith, and put it into action through worshipping God in spirit and truth?

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Photo by inna dee

By Melanie Mar Chow

The church may have been caught off guard when the pandemic came to the US.  Almost a year later, people still need best practices for corporate worship.  The question should always be:  How is our worship relevant to God, and then for God’s people?  One West Coast church learned a hard lesson on how the virus spreads in close quarters from person to person from their nose or mouth. This caused fear of being with others when it involved singing or talking in person.   

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Photo by Renee Grayson

By April Yamasaki

When I first started my website, AprilYamasaki.com, I used the tagline “Spiritual Practice, Faith, and Life.” I really didn’t know what to call my new blogging venture, but I figured I had to start with something, and I could always change my title later.

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Photo by Scott Akerman

By Joy Wong

When it comes to my faith, it’s certainly not the first time I’ve felt lost. Like in college, when I was convinced that God had shown me my future husband, complete with divine signs and confirmations, only to find him engaged to someone else the following year. Or when I had left my evangelical Asian American church to join the PCUSA where women were encouraged to pursue ordination, only to find it supremely difficult to fit into any existing local PCUSA congregation. I remember telling my spiritual director that I felt like a football that was thrown, but then fumbled.

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By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by R Boed

In these uncommon times that we find ourselves in, I have come to realize how much I took for granted the practice of my faith in its liturgical and communal rhythm. Maybe because the spaces where faith got expressed in tangible ways seems to be shifting, maybe because a rugged cross, once again, got dragged through the crowd by a mob ready to kill for their version of truth barely six days into a new year, maybe, finally, I have learnt to listen for God’s voice — whatever it is, I find myself taking a serious inventory of all the people in my life, the place I happen to be, the things I treasure and the emotions within to understand the relevancy of my faith for this moment.

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