Friday, August 21, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 117: The challenge of change and signs of our times

Recently, I have been thinking about how hard it is to make change happen in organisations, governments and communities, and especially on how we tend to lock in business as usual (BAU) until it is almost too late -- "almost," if we are lucky:

I think two Greek terms that frequently pop up in the New Testament are relevant {Let's u/d w links to Bible Hub, Aug 23}, kairos --> opportunity or season, etc.; and krisis --> break-/decision- point of judgement (for good or ill) . . . as in, in a trial, etc.  (There are echoes of pistis, too --> faith, as confident trust rooted in [soundly arrived at . . . ] conviction taken as a warranty from credible source that guides confident action and hope for success due to the trustworthiness of the source of the warranty. [Cf. our implicit trust in a high quality dictionary.] Also, metanoia is relevant --> a morally freighted transformational change of mind, heart, purpose from evil and/or folly towards the right, just, wise and true.)

Given how circumstances are never static, our environment is always changing, leading to opportunities and threats. These may or may not match well with our strengths and weaknesses . . . and yes, I am using the SWOT concept here. 

The thing is, that as the above diagram shows, opportunities tend to come as windows that open and may shut, so business as usual may become increasingly out of touch with reality, leading to an adverse trend and perhaps exploding into a crisis as things break and maybe go over the cliff. By definition, in a crisis, one has lost control and there is danger of the cliff edge collapsing under us -- of, a disaster.

There is never a guarantee that we can back away from a cliff- edge in time:

So that gives warning-signs extreme importance.

And, it means we should prize the sensitivity and/or strategic insight that allow one to read and respond in good time to the signs of the times -- as opposed to locking out, dismissing or even killing our prophets through the very bad habit of shooting at the messenger who brings bad news. Or, whose report threatens our comfort-zone or power-base.

Four scriptures speak to me on this:
1 Chron 12: 32 Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.

Matt 16: 1 . . . the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,[a] “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Acts 17: 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for“‘In him we live and move and have our being’ . . .

Rev 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 

22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” [ESV]
I believe that in our day, the influential or powerful voices in many organisations, churches, communities, governments and nations have become so self-satisfied, so caught up in getting or being wealthy and comfortable, so polarised against others, so wise in our own eyes that we have lost sight of the signs of our times that would otherwise lead us to realise that we need to change.

And, I must -- with fear and trembling -- say this more: I fear that we are in danger of being caught up in the spirit of Laodicea, locking out our Lord and being deaf to his knock and his voice.

More broadly, we need to add to our analysis tool-boxes the strategic management concepts of a business as usual track, a window of opportunity (a kairos), warning-signs, and the possibility that we are approaching a crumbling cliff edge that can make delay fatal.

So, we need to think in terms of strategic change to a more robust, more sound, more sustainable alternative, based on a SWOT analysis and strategy alignment exercise:

Especially, as we contemplate the circumstances our region, communities, governments, organisations and our churches (also the wider civilisation) now face. 

Before I close off, as a thought-sparker, let me pose the 3-4-5 good governance & risk/hazard management challenge to decision-makers and leaders:

And, DV in coming days and weeks,  I intend to address what I think is facing us in more details.

As ever, the Mordecai challenge confronts: why not now, why not here, why not us? END