In chapter 6, Allender tackles the issue of complexity in leadership. He blows the cover some of us had. Sometimes confusion “can be a ruse to escape hard but simple decisions.” Learned helplessness can be a dangerous thing.
Each of us has a past. And this personal history provides a gird or schema for viewing the world and our circumstances. “We always predict the future by reading the present from a frame of reference that was established in the past.” This is why it is some important to be transformed through the renewing of our minds- we need a biblical grid or frame of reference to more accurately read the present and predict that future.
“Complexity arises when the grids we use to interpret the present seem to be breaking down or when another grid competes for ascendancy.” This is what makes life change, including conversion, so difficult. We struggle against seeing with new eyes. This is particularly difficult in a community. Competing grids create conflict. Some want to hang on to old, ineffective (non-biblical) grids. Some want to embrace new, pragmatic (non-biblical) grids. True, biblical frameworks for understanding the present will meet with resistance on both ends.
He relates this to hiring and firing practices. Which grid should have more importance: relationship, redemption or competency? In part it depends on the situation. If the person is in the position to develop competency, then redemption is more important. If they are a senior pastor or primary leader, then competency should be pretty important. If you have to choose between 2 equally competent people, than relationship becomes more important.
But if we choose relationship despite incompetency, all will suffer. The on-going incompetence will destroy the relationship. And eventually the fired person will feel betrayed, even though they never should have had the position in the first place. Anyway… back to the book.
The present is fraught with ambiguity. My grid actively shapes how I view the present. In the comments on racism (the Michael Richards post) you’ll see that one’s past will determine how much or little racism they see. We will quickly filter out data that does not seem to fit our grid (see evolutionist or global warming debates). Things look so complex (the environment/climate) that we seek a simple solution (Al Gore) at the expense of wrestling with all the data. We err toward reductionism. The complexity of leadership tempts us to err on the side of the status quo or the quick fix. Both rob us of the opportunity to grow as people and leaders.
The future is beset with uncertainty. We can’t control it, and we can’t predict what the “right” thing to do is. Our fear leads us into anticipating a bad outcome. This sets us up for the danger of dogmatism, or rigidity.
“Dogmatism assures us that we know the answer before we bother to look. On the surface, this approach seems to make life easier, but it almost always steers us in the wrong direction.” Dogmatism is the refusal to re-examine your grid. It is the unwillingness to allow your mind to continually be renewed by God’s Spirit working thru God’s Word. It says “my way is the only way” (welcome to the worship wars, for instance).
The tipping point is foolishness. “A leader must be a fool, and a foot is someone neither bound to convention nor tied to the dictates of the powerful.” We must be willing to look foolish as we embrace the non-conventional, non-traditional and other-worldly. If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will most likely look foolish (and feel foolish) to those who pursue life in the flesh from a fleshly perspective (see 1 Corinthians 1-2).
It takes time alone with God, or in restful community, to be creative. We are usually not creative when we are harried and pressed for time. It takes time to begin to see with a new pair of eyes. This also requires faith- that there is underlying order in God’s world and that God has provided a way out of this trial even if it means going through the trial.
Complexity calls forth creativity. Complexity calls forth risk. This is why leadership is such a pecarious position. It calls those who follow out of routines and comfort zones into possible loss. But a new & better status quo cannot arise if we remain entrenched in the current one. Rigidity will keep us where we are- often to our death.
Read Full Post »