Uncertainty and forgiveness may get you fired? Reading over at Out of Ur this morning left me thinking of some of my own experiences. The writer points to Andy Stanley’s talk at Catalyst West about leadership in the throes of uncertainty as opposed to “wrinkle-free” environs. I was left ruminating about some of my own experiences where the expectation was certainty, a certainty that actually defied leading out of faith.
Nothing is certain. When it comes to church life and work as a vocation this may be more true. Tony Jones tells of a young man who was fired for a shift in his theology. Jones offers a song the young man wrote and sang the week before he was fired. You can listen to the song here.
I find these two pieces related. The language of certainty, implied when we talk of un-certainty, is diffused throughout conservative church settings. Be certain what you believe! Be certain where you lead! Uncertainty in a church leader is viewed as weak – on both counts. However, history demonstrates a theological core that spans the history of the church in all its expressions but a diversity in the rings around the core. Each tradition believes their “ring” to be “the” ring. If this is our ecclesial heritage theologically, then you surely can imagine its implications for leadership.
What is the vision of your church? Read the “vision statements” of churches. All are different. All are the same. At their core they reflect a common understanding. As to their rings, they exhibit a diversity – generally methodologically. But, when it comes to leading out of vision there is as much attention given to certainty as if the discussion were the meaning of the atonement. In fact, most people in churches are more interested in whatever that direction is than what is beleived. Countless conversations with potential members visiting our church illustrate this to be true. Only on a few occasions does the subject broach dogma or doctrine.
Stanley suggests leaders settle themselves by remembering their calling (clarity), and steel themselves with flexible (flexibility) plans.
“Be confident even in uncertainty,” Andy said. “Admit that you don’t know the future, but you can confidently follow what God has told you to do.”
Sometimes confidence in uncertainty may show up in your song lyrics – and get you fired – unfortunately.