Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Antidote: Living Robustly In Transition

My faith community is presently in a time of transition. The Lead Pastor has left and the next one hasn’t yet arrived.  Typically such times of transition last between 1 and 2 years. And while this type of transition may be common for churches, it is also a long time for any organization to be without a top leader.  Common organizational wisdom in the business world would tell you that such a long time of being “leaderless” is perilous. So why isn’t my community panicking?

I heard someone say recently, “There are only 3 kinds of people; those that are going into transition, those that are currently in transition and those that are coming out of transition.” The question then is how to make life in transitional times as profound and robust as the times when expansion is more visible. 

Faith communities navigate transition successfully, sometimes more so than businesses, because they embrace transition readily. They understand inherently that there are times of “going out” and times of “coming in” and they embrace both equally. During times of “coming in,” businesses tend to focus on things like cost reductions, improved processes and finding new markets.  Churches and synagogues however, focus first on the tending of souls (their people) during such times. You see, it’s a simple matter of understanding and prioritizing: If you focus on people first, you may also get the desired results in reductions, processes and new markets.  But if you focus most intently on reductions, processes and new markets, particularly while excluding attention to souls, you may end up with nothing. Why? Because people (souls) do everything.

An example of this is happening right now at Warehouse 242, where the Teaching Team is focusing its weekly Sunday service teaching on the concept of “Antidote.” Steve Whitby, Pastor of Creativity there, puts it this way, The term “Antidote” ultimately derives fromthe Greek word “antididonal,” which means “given against.” It’s not just a cure, it is the implementation of something created to act against our darkest enemies.” During times of transition, people and communities experience all kinds of negative emotions and behaviors, these being the “darkest enemies.” This community chose to first normalize those enemies by identifying the most likely and destructive ones. Then secondly, to grow strengths into the community by building the natural antidote to those soul sicknesses, so when the community emerges from their transition they will have expanded profoundly and robustly and will be prepared for a new stage of visible growth that they were not ready to handle before the transition.

What are some of the Enemies / Antidotes that are common in transition? Here’s a starting list:

  • Navel Gazing / Opening Up
  • Gossip / Contentedness
  • Despair / Faith
  • Impatience / Humility
  • Disengagement / Remembrance
  • Unhealthy Conflict / Fellowship of the Team
  • Anxiety / Meditation & Prayer
  • Anger / Gratitude

Now, why don’t you make your own list?

Over the next few weeks, I'll blog through some of these couplets in hopes of learning more myself.  Why don’t you email me and give me your own insights so that they can be shared? Together we’ll make transitions in the workplace ensouling.