I’ve been working on developing a framework of “organizational wisdom” for churches that can help them do a better job of discerning and then deciding their next best steps to accomplish their mission.
One of the ideas I’m exploring is that many of the wisdom principles taught in the book of Proverbs apply to groups as well as individuals. If the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, then just behind that is self-awareness. To grow in wisdom we must have a realistic view of who we are and who we are not.
One thing I’ve been coming to grips with over the past few months is my sense of grandiosity. I’ve been guilty of thinking of myself more highly than I ought. Who I thought I was and what I thought I was capable of when I was 23 has changed drastically over the past 15 years, with some accelerated adjustment required in the past few months. Having a grandiose view of ourselves sets us up for a miserable existence, because we’ll never live up to our over-the-top expectations. As our delusions of grandeur lead us into repeated disappointment, we either keep beating our head against the wall, or we develop a more a realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses and adjust our expectations accordingly. Learning to make adjustments in the wake of mistakes, disappointments, and failures is one characteristic that separates a person of wisdom from a fool.
One of the maladies afflicting too many churches is organizational grandiosity. Many churches think more highly of themselves than they ought. They believe they’re the next Willow Creek, North Point, or Mars Hill. They never experience the joy of the Lord, because of their chronic disappointment from not measuring up to their unrealistic expectations. They have discovered the secret of how to be miserable in all circumstances.
This is where someone will object and say, “But God can do anything!” Of course he can. But most churches would enjoy the journey more if they left room for God to surprise them by surpassing their humble expectations, while learning to be content in their present situation if he doesn’t. (That almost sounds Biblical. See Philippians 4:10-13)
I wonder how the leadership conversations at churches would change if they developed a greater sense of self-awareness, which would help them be at peace with who they are as a church and the kinds of ministry God is realistically calling them to do?
Of course balance is needed. I’m not suggesting churches resign themselves to mediocrity any more than I’m advocating they set themselves up for perpetual disappointment by setting goals they have no chance of achieving. Somewhere in the middle is a church seeking to be all that God is calling it to be by living up to its potential and deriving much joy from the pursuit.
And what is required to strike this delicate, but essential balance? You guessed it: Organizational Wisdom.
Help me out: how would you go about helping a church become more self-aware?