Wednesday, November 11, 2009

These changing times (part 2)

In his book, Leading change in the Congregation, Rendle asks, "why did it take Moses 40 years to cross the wilderness instead of 40 weeks or less, which would have been possible if a more direct route had been chosen?" Rendle states, the migration must be viewed as an act of transformation by the hand of God. It took the people 40 years to reorganize. Had they made the trip in 40 weeks they would have arrived in the Promised Land unchanged. They would have still had a slave mentality, still thinking and behaving like slave people. But during 40 years of being held in the wilderness, they were transformed into a people who had a new relationship with God in which they learned to trust His sufficiency and to consecrate themselves to His will. In the wilderness they gained a new understanding and identity of self, others, and a new way of organizing their community that went beyond Moses and Aaron. Through the wilderness they were genuinely transformed by God.

When facing change in the Church, leaders must be comfortable with their time in the wilderness and remain there long enough for divinely ordained transformation to take place. To be a leader in times of change does not require the ability to produce an answer or fix a problem; rather the patience and courage to hold people close to the pain and possibility that God can use to transform them. It's time to pay attention to people, hear their hurts and wishes, note what God is doing in people, and hold still long enough for significant change to occur.

The role of a leader is to pay attention long enough to what God is doing and not run off to fix something. Their role is to help people confront their pain, disappointments, and anxieties without diminishing them but also without being overwhelmed by them. It is to help people dream dreams that will provide direction and energy. It is to help people escape the boxes of their assumptions and learned behavior so that deep change can occur and not be subverted by old rules. Most importantly, it is the role of spiritual leaders to help hold people in the wilderness of their experience, the chaos of not knowing what comes next until it comes for the sake of their transformation brought on through the sovereign will of God.

Can you view the "wildernesses of life" as grace extending from God rather than a punitive act? Can you find comfort in the midst of uncertainty or is your obsession to quickly make something happen in order to dismiss the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of the circumstances? Can you enjoy the journey through the wilderness?

Thanks for stopping by!

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