The over-arching theme of the Catalyst conference was “The Tension is Good” and each speaker to the various ways in which tension can be felt in the leaderships positions in the church or other ministries. It is inevitable. Tension will always, always, show up where there is growth, strategy, mission, and unity among team members.
Andy Stanley was the first to speak to this tension. “Tension,” he began, “is always associated with our appetites.” Then he expanded on the universal appetites that every human, much less leader, will always have to manage. Manage and not completely solve. We’ll get to that in a minute. Progress, growth, responsibility, fame, respect, achievement, winning, and the longing to be envied are the eight major appetites that will be encountered by any leader, no matter how small or large their ministry.
“There are three things to keep in mind, when understanding these tensions,” he explained.1. God created them, but sin distorted them. 2. Appetites are never fully or finally satisfied. 3. Your appetites always whisper “now,” and never “wait, later.”
In recognizing that these appetites will never be satisfied, that they know no end, sets the direction of our careers, faith, family, etc. Because they are not to be completely absolved; they are not to be “fixed.” They are to be managed, maintained, and used to sharpen the strategy already in place.
If any of us were truly honest, we would readily admit that we don’t have it all together, personally or professionally. We have missed the mark countless times; our strategy has failed. And often times, it is because there was a mishandling of tension. There were various perspectives, different opinions that were not all equally and respectfully taken into consideration.
And this is the role of the leader: to be a humble handler of insights and opportunities and to make the decision that will most benefit the whole, or in the case of the Church, that will most faithfully deliver the truth of the Gospel.
Stanley made this statement, “There are going to be opportunities that you shouldn’t take full advantage of because of the risk you take in veering from the course that God has already ordained and blessed.”
So, the challenge is this– Leaders, are you dead enough to yourself and your personal preferences, to be whole-heartedly pursuing the decision that not only points your team in the right direction, regardless of comfort, but that is most honoring to God?