| the journey |
The journey to answer the question has consisted of three intertwined pathways, each building and developing off the other, each providing input and insight that I have been able to cross-pollinate with the insights and lessons of the other pathways. It is not often that one walks on a journey of insight – it has been a remarkable privilege to have traveled on three parallel journeys – and seen them come together/join and separate and blend together some remarkable thoughts and insights.
The First Journey: Reading with new/fresh eyes
A divine reading plan – I have pretty much gone with the flow wrt the reading I have done over the last 18 to 20 months, starting with Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy (recommended to me on the day I got out of hospital).
Work in progress – will add in a reading list from the last 2 years (almost 100 books!!)
The Second Journey: Rediscovering Purpose and ‘Calling’
The work/vocation that I do addresses the issue of governing and leading organisations.
Work in progress – also link to www.rogerhitchcock.co.za
I have been on a journey aiming to ‘incorporate’ the concepts I have been discovering in the context of the organisations I work with and speak to. At times this is a collision of divergent and contradictory concepts, at times this works, at times it simply does not. Sometimes a door opens a crack and I stick my foot in to try to keep it open and further prise it open. At other times the door swings wide open and allows me to really go deep and explore, and sometimes challenge underlying truths and underlying motivations and deep beliefs within organisational leaders. These moments have been incredibly rewarding.
Many are starting to recognise that the foundations of organisational thinking are currently being shaken. There is a growing desire among many leaders to seek and find deeper answers to the issues they are facing. What has worked in the past does not seem to be working in the present and certainly will not work into the future. These issues seem to be going deeper and deeper. Whereas in the past much organisational failure was due to product and service issues or operational issues what is becoming clearer and clearer is that failure never starts at this level. All organisational ‘impact’ (good or bad) is the result of the actions of the organisation which are based on the decision making of those leading the organisation (or authorised to lead the organisation and this is sometimes/often illegitimately seized or granted). The decisions that are made reflect the thinking of those making the decision – and since decision making and leadership is a team sport, thinking in teams or groups is often harder and certainly more complex that thinking and deciding as individuals. Any thinking, both group and individual, however also reflects the underlying values that the individuals carry with them and hold.
It is at this deep level that the most recent interest in the ‘leadership space’ is moving to – values, what people believe, ethics – the invisible and often intangible – and too often not spoken about!
It is also at this level that what each person values and pursues is truly revealed. The ‘as it is in’ that they are chasing after or praying for is made tangible in the decisions that are made and the actions that are carried out. It is this ‘as it is in’ that is ultimately revealed in the impact the actions and enabling decisions have on others.
So regardless of context I have been wrestling with the question – what does/should the kingdom look like here?
The Third Journey: Traveling together – one people, one planet joined
At the same time as I have been working with the question it seems as if the world has also ‘shifted on its axis’.
Changes in politics, the environment and in economies.
Growing voices talking about things like – the end of capitalism, the end of the world as we know it, the shortage of time required for real solutions to specifically environmental issues, growing inequality – balanced by more people having access to much more stuff, consumerism and materialism, the resurgence in interest in spirituality – at the same time separated from Christian roots, the churches (apparent) slide towards, acceptance and incorporation of (and wrestle with) what I call a ‘theology of attraction’ as opposed to a ‘theology of formation/transformation’ – and the resultant rallying cry for discipleship.
The biggest crisis facing humanity is looming, the very thing that can destroy us is simply being pushed away – not only through denial but also through an exuberant confidence in a technological solution.
We have and are treating our planet like it is disposable!
This could be/ will be the end of the world as we know it – within the next generation the way the world works is going to have to fundamentally change!
The dreams we have
The things we pursue
What we long for
How we spend our time
What we work for – and on
The types of collective entities we engage in
The way we gather as families, groups, neighbors, friends, colleagues…
What we do with our time, our active time, our spare time – even how we define the time that we have available to us
The role models we admire
The celebrities we ‘worship’
The things we reward
The positions in society and community and how we give rank and status and position
Where we live – people are going to have to move to different parts of the world
How we live – our existing housing could be totally inadequate – floods, heat, fixed vs mobile
How we meet our needs for food, community, water, clean air
Who we live with – the concept of the suburban bubble is bound to pop
We must ask ourselves
What is none of the technological solutions that are being pursued actually work as intended?
None of the plans we are putting in place actually succeed in stabilising a world that has been knocked off kilter?
Apparently we have 60 years of ‘life’ or harvests left in the soil – what happens if we cannot actually fix this
What about the other invisible hand – the invisible hand of human greed and
The originally invisible hand is no longer invisible but actually permeates every part of life. Our lives have so fully assimilated the concept of the market (the invisible hand of the market) that we live our lives like it is the only way to structure or conceive of things. We take offense at any idea or concept that challenges our understanding of the world as a market – economy has become the most important things, society, community, communion have become the servants of the economy.
My argument is that it should be the other way around.
The foundation we need to rebuild is Communion (life based on relationship), we then live and function in Communities (relationship precedes function) and then as part of the way we work together and live together is to exchange things – Commerce (the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services, and the structures and systems we build/construct to do this – based on the concepts and foundations of communion and community.
Journey and Vocation
Through these journeys I have been exposed to and explored a number of different contexts, pictures, metaphors and narratives (unpacked in this Foundation | shape | picture | story |).
In brief we live our lives based on the underlying picture, metaphor and narrative we believe to be true good and beautiful.
Expand this thinking (good, true, right and beautiful) and show how it has come up over and over and over again in the thinking of many people at this time.
I have become convinced that we all pursue what we believe to be good, true and beautiful – we are certainly not just hands that act unthinkingly, unmoved and simply reactive to what is around us, we are less heads that understand then act and more hearts that desire and then pursue – and in our pursuit we do whatever we can to lay hold of what we hold to be good, true and beautiful (thankful to James K Smith for this thinking).
There is room here to unpack this a bit more – lay the foundation for hearts, head and hands thinking in communion, community and commerce – in leadership, in business in understanding and building and recognising and attributing value.
So I have been (and continue) on a multi-dimensional journey. A journey on the inside and the outside, a journey of dreaming, imagining, desiring, thinking, analysing and acting. The journey however cannot remain just my journey – and so I would like in this book to share some of this journey with others.
This sharing is because each of us has a voice (thanks to Parker Palmer for this insight). This voice is certainly evident in what each one of us ‘do’ with our lives – with the shaping and emergence of our vocations over time and space. For some of us, and for me in particular, it does also involve what I say. My vocation is to speak – I speak to many people in the work that I do. But I also believe that I need to speak through what I can relay and tell about the journey I am on and the destination I am pursuing. I trust it is of value.
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