I follow a number of blogs each day and one of those is nextreformation.com. A few days ago Len posted under the title: leadership in the chaordic age.
In it he quoted Michael Fullan as saying:
the two greatest failures of leaders are indecisiveness in times of urgent need for action and dead certainty that they are right in times of complexity.
WOW I thought that nails a few things. I respect enormously the recent response by Brian Houston of Hillsong with respect to a response re. the complexities of homosexuality / same-sex marriage:
at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.
This, like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have, and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.
Seems to me that the two situations that Fullan refers to, ‘urgent need’ and ‘times of complexities’, are critical in our response on any issue. Is it an urgent need that requires action, or is this issue a result of times of complexity. How we discern that will push us in a direction. We all know the scenario of ‘x years ago I was so certain, I knew everything about everything, but now I am not so sure’. That can be the result of losing faith, allowing despondency to creep in, or with the passage of time the result of a maturing process where I realise things are not as clear-cut as I wanted them to be.
Being unsure about something is not the mark of unbelief. Doubt is not the enemy of faith, indeed one might suggest that doubt is an intrinsic part of faith. To be unable to rethink a position is not a mark of betraying truth, but is to respect that truth cannot ultimately be threatened nor changed.
Western society, the church in the West is being threatened as it stands, but if there is the collapse of christendom then we should not be surprised nor too disturbed by that. There are some necessary challenges here and we need the wisdom of heaven to know when the challenge is a real threat to how things should be, or simply a threat to how things are. We need to know when the uncertainty is to lead us deeper into truth that is found in Jesus, or whether it is just the confusing and deception that is often thrown our way to cause us to deviate from the path.
Discerning correctly the context will be very critical. There is a huge difference between the institutions as we have known them being under threat and pure devotion to Jesus wavering.
Certainly for me the context has become a lot more complex. When I asked a pastor who had been deeply involved in ‘Toronto’, and then left his wife and the ministry if we could meet for dinner and talk, I asked him when did things unravel for him. He said when a friend informed him he had seen all these manifestations in Hinduism years ago that was the moment. For me there was an inadequate theology of the Holy Spirit and a lack of understanding of how spiritual ‘manifestations’ relate also to cultural and personal contexts. He had been sure of the wrong thing and once that uncertainty was shaken he abandoned what he had previously given himself into.
When I have had someone write that they have seen every manifestation that we have seen but within a larger scale ‘secular’ setting things get more complex. When there are those who do not claim to follow Christ but are passionate about justice, when those who follow Christ inform you that you need to be armed to counteract the coming invasion things get more complex. Complex because it is harder to discern who my brother or sister are.
So I am voting that the times we live in are predominantly that of ‘times of complexities’ when clear cut, ‘dead certain’ answers are not two-a-penny. But in the times of uncertainty something is shifting and we can humbly (and cautiously?) trust the leading of the Spirit. If we make the times of uncertainty into times of urgency we might miss the season. Just a thought.