Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

As someone who reads widely, there are articles that I look forward to each year. One of them is published by Time magazine, in which they analyze the future by looking at a select number of emerging leaders around the world. While news organizations used to proclaim that they scoured the world to give us the news, today they scour the world to see who is rising up to lead us.

I am aware that Time picks these people based on criteria that they have established in advance. I have read enough statistical evidence to know that questionnaires and surveys can be biased; in academic research, we even have the statement “bibliography determines conclusions.” I am also aware of the reality that reporters, editors, and researchers can be biased. But I still believe these articles are important because they show us who we admire and what kind of people we aspire to be.

The “Time 100 Next” introduces readers to Phenoms, Innovators, Leaders, Artists, and Advocates. The list is very impressive and, in the words of Editorial Director Dan Macsai, “everyone on this list is poised to make history.” This list includes the young and the old, men and women, and people from almost every ethnic group.

As I was reading this list, I thought of a statement that was recently made at a conference I attended. One participant said that the West and the United States continue to oppress and hold back many people who will never reach their full potential. Most of the people in the group agreed with him. Yet this particular list, while it does contain people from countries around the world, mostly features people who live within the Western world. Some of the phenoms were born in other places, but their skills were developed here, and they made their impact here. Here are just a few of them: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Steve Kornacki, Doja Kat (from California, mother is Jewish, father is Scottish African), Brit Bennett, Sydney McLaughlin, Davido, Trevor Lawrence, Nyjah Huston, Anya Taylor-Joy (from Florida, Argentine and British), Amanda Gorman, Olivia Rodrigo (from California, father is Filipino, mother is German/Irish), Janja Garnbret, Koyoharu Gotouge, Luka Doncic (Slovenian who plays for the Dallas Mavericks), Regé-Jean Page (from the UK, father is British, mother is Zimbabwean-British), Abby Phillip, Charli D’Amelio, and Izkia Siches Pastén. As an immigrant I know that there are many things that can change and improve in the USA, but I still agree with Patrick Moynihan’s statement that if all the borders of the world would be opened, most people would go to the US and Western Europe.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

Interestingly, most of the phenoms mentioned in the article come from a poor background and have become millionaires through their work. Becoming rich is not a problem, but how one becomes rich and what they do after their success can be. How does one behave in a competition or handle the opposition? These phenomenal people gather power as they gain success and recognition in their fields. Sometimes, when they reach the apex of success, their words and morals change. They use their influence to condemn some people and absolve others.

It is a great responsibility to have the potential to change the future. For that reason, in Proverbs 17:15 we read, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.” I know of a songwriter whose lyrics were taken by a famous person. When my friend challenged the singer, he ended up in court proceedings for close to ten years. The artist had the best lawyers in the country, and he could afford to keep paying them. My friend did not have that kind of money, and he became poor in the process. He thought about giving up so many times but in the end, he won the case. Justice and integrity are so important in sports, the arts, business, and politics.

I wish the best and the most glorious future to these phenoms. At the same time, I hope that they will not only make themselves successful and rich, but will make thousands of lives better as they ascend in their stardom and perform their deeds with righteousness.


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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...