Thursday, September 18, 2008
Not because Nigel says!
I had an interesting experience at Hockey the other day. I arrived at the stadium to discover that an 11 a side game had been scheduled for the same time as two 8 a side games on the same pitch. Although I know nothing about this there seemed to be an expectation as the primary competition convenor that I would fix it. I rushed around a bit and with people responding graciously was able to trim some time of the 8s, get the 11s going early, lose half time and shorten one of the games and then we would be back on track for the P1 competition running slightly late but using the buffer at the end of the day. This was all good and I explained to the club who were on duty about the revised schedule and impressed upon them the importance of sounding the hooter at the new times before going to get my team ready for their match.
An hour and a half later the team that I coach were playing when the hooter sounded 5 minutes early for half time. I went over to find out what was going on and was told in no uncertain terms that this was what was going to happen because we were running late. I was a bit confused about this so I said "No I think we should be okay now we have caught up", to which I got the reply "I don't care what you think Nigel says this is what has to happen". I was rather taken aback by the strength of this commitment but not as taken aback as she was when I replied "I AM Nigel!". This revelation seemed to be enough to change her mind but it is the first time that I can recall having an argument of that strength with myself. Obviously the people on duty I had spoken with had finished their shift and other people had taken over and had my instructions passed on. Something obviously got lost in the translation.
I found myself thinking about this listening to Mark Brown's keynote address at the Bible Society. They are in the midst of a significant transition as a new vision is sought for a new generation and new structures are developed to support and serve that vision. Mark used the image of renovating a house to frame his remarks. A house that had a history and a heritage but had been substantially re-modelled for contemporary use. Just like at the hockey what is passed on can be confusing. It may have been appropriate in the past but each generation needs to own and understand what we are responsible for.
What I found encouraging about interacting with the people at the staff conference was the desire to see a spiritual reformation as integral to the organisational renovation that is going on. I had been invited to give three talks on successive mornings and have sought wherever possible to put effort into supporting those who are working for change. I believe that an unequivocal focus on the future is vital for the health of mission agencies in the present. We need to appreciate and value our heritage and history matters but we need to be able to differentiate where we have come from and where we are going. I do not want leaders who come after me in any of the situations I am working to be doing anything with a mindless "because Nigel said". The challenge is to grow leaders who are centred through the word of God, understand the times and know what to do.
It was a pleasure to speak from the Bible to the Bible Society. With the Bible they are a powerful force for change here and overseas, without it they are just a society. I was encouraged by the response of the Bible Society in person and hope some of them will post comment here for your interest and encouragement.
I am sure there are opportunities for partnership in the future as we continue to renovate together.