This is a presentation from LeaderSource’s Leader Development Conference (LDC) in 2014. To learn more about the LDC, please visit LDC.io.
Observing the global forces in play, the resulting speed of cultural shifts, and the critical nature of emerging issues – our re-shaped context is like no other. As leaders, we must now not only question the answer-tracks we’ve driven down for a decade or so, but also question the questions themselves. As we observe the convergence of the global forces in play – there is a sense that something foundational is shifting. With the increasing speed and spread of culture-shifts, we understand that our re-shaped context is like no other. We’re now off the map, with little expertise to face the critical nature of the world’s emerging issues. Why and how do Christians lead in a world of disequilibrium and complexity? Is it perhaps a world fashioned to be the answer to our prayers of the last 30-40 years? If so, are we prepared to only react and possibly adapt; or do we have the courage, with great resolve to lead in shaping a future for the praise of His Name? If that is our longing, we must not only question the answer-tracks we’ve driven down for a decade or so, but question the very questions themselves.
Malcolm: Our first presenter tonight is Carol Davis. I’ve known Carol for a long time, 15 or more years. I have immense respect for her. A couple of things in particular by way of introduction – Carol is firstly a visionary. She’s a real visionary. She’s a real big-picture person. She’s a real future thinker. She’s one who is able to look at the complexity of what’s happening and understand the trends and see where they’re going. Secondly, Carol is a tremendous networker. She is a serial networker. She’s introduced me to some really cool people who are about God’s work today. So let’s welcome her as she comes – Carol Davis.
Carol Davis: Thank you so much. My mouth was open but no answers came. I’d answered the phone early one morning and my effervescent bubbly, dramatic, extroverted friend, Caroline, was on the other end and she said, “Carol, I just wanted to ask you a question,” and then she said, “Carol, what keeps you hating sin?” Well, no answer came for quite a while because for the first time I realized I didn’t really hate sin. In fact, I often excused it. Sometimes I ignored it; all sorts of other responses unless the sin was against me, and then I really hated it. And that disquieted me that morning. I was stunned and it disquieted me for a number of months. Every time I think about the question, I hope I made some progress but it’s a disquieting question. Just several weeks ago, on a Thursday night, I was sitting with my friend, John, who is a pastor who develops leadership for different places in the world and we’ve had many conversations through the years. I told him about a few months ago, my first grandchild arrived and I was in the delivery room that night not – well, not when it was delivered – but this grandson, Katum, I got to hold him in my arms and my heart just started pounding.
I had this excitement, this incredible joy, and on the other side I had this incredible sadness and I couldn’t understand what the conflict was about, and then it hit me. If I had been thinking about Katum when I was raising my own sons – you see, now I’m seeing the third generation – I would have done things very differently. I began to just pass the years. My sons would have been different with their sons, and so then I started thinking about those I had discipled and those I had helped develop as leaders, and I thought why wasn’t I thinking three generations down, or possibly four? The Scripture tells us that we each have four generations, at least, in us and so I was disquieted by that. There were so many things we talked about that night – ISIS and the ice bucket challenge – how did that spread around the world so fast? How did that take root so fast? And the gospel doesn’t seem to be doing that. Why is it that we’re seeing these borders almost dissolve before our eyes? Why are we seeing the power shifts. So we were talking about many things that night and I was just kind of going around the world and he was with me and the power shifts that were happening. We talked about Apple and how many millions from around the world showed up for the unveiling of a watch, and I began to think about what are our gods these days? What are the lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God?
We’re in a surveillance world. It’s like you don’t click alone anymore. This surveillance, the church, where is it? It’s business as usual when you look at the sites, when you listen to the conferences, and we seem to be pushed further and further away from the center of what God is doing. We had gone on for probably 40 minutes or so. We had literally touched on so many topics and John looked at me and he said, “Carol, we’ve been meeting off and on for over 22 years for iced tea, for breakfast, for lunch, dinner, and I’ve never seen you this disquieted. What’s going on, what’s beneath it? Where is all this coming from?” And I realized, again, I was disquieted because one of the things I was asking is what do you think God had in mind when he divided the people at the Tower of Babel and now He seems to be bringing everything back together? What does God have in mind? What is going on? And what I realized was that there are few times in history when we see this dramatic a change but never have we seen it with such speed and it’s changing business as usual; it’s changing our world.
There are few times in history that it’s been this extreme; so we have been put on this planet for such a time as this and we’ve been put on the planet during this particular time of turning, this time of convergence. There’s so much happening in so many places, so fast, to so many. What’s this about? One thing we do know is that God is writing a story and we do know that we’re at a particular chapter and we know what the end of the story is; and so this is where I have to anchor because we know that one day … I said after this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from every tribe, from every language, and they were worshiping. That’s what we know is happening. Henry Blackaby is the one that really taught us to ask the question, “What is God doing?” and then figure out where to get on it. I find that in our generation we’re often kind of interrupting God’s conversation with us and we’re asking God, “What do you want me to do?”
I think He’s saying, “Quit interrupting Me and watch what’s going on.” So what do you think happened in 1974? This was the time when Billy Graham had called together the world’s leaders on evangelism and mission, and they were all gathered in Luzon, and this was a time where, among many other things, Ralph Winter gave a talk that changed things for the church. He began to point out that less than one-tenth of one percent of the global resources of the church were going to the unreached parts of the world. He began to point out where that was and he dealt with two things. He dealt with the unfairness of it for those that were in these parts of the world, and he dealt with the disobedience of the church. Just because we didn’t get there didn’t mean that we didn’t take responsibility for reaching them, and so that kicked off two things. It kicked off an incredible prayer movement and it kicked off a research movement. I don’t remember being in so many prayer meetings and prayer summits and concerts of prayer and whatever you call them in the next 15 years.
I had never been in that many before and never have been since but there was something that began to happen, and out of the research within just a couple of years we knew where every unreached group was; we knew where they lived, we had an address for them and literally we could get there, except for one thing. In this – it came to later be called the 10/40 window – it was one-third of the land mass but it was two-thirds of the world’s peoples, and there were barriers all around. These barriers had to do with geopolitics; it had to do with all sorts of things but this is where the poor were. This is where the evil was happening. This is where prostitution and injustice and trafficking, all the things that we abhor and that grieve the heart of God were happening. But 15 years later, if we just take a look in June 4, 1989, I think many of us will remember that time; it connected the world because Tiananmen Square happened and the People’s Army came against the people of China. Out of that incident we all remember the famous picture of that young man standing in front of the tanks. Greater openness came from that one flashpoint, that incident, that precipitating deflection that caused us to look in a different way.
1991. 1991, two things happened: the Berlin Wall was torn down and late that year the Soviet Union collapsed on December 25th and with that, the world had changed. But one other thing happened in 1991 and that was on June 6th. That was the Internet went public. It was available for public use, and you see a guy that kicked off 15 years before that, an incredible prayer movement of focus on the things that were on God’s heart. I personally believe that the events of 1989 to 1991 were God answering our prayers, because now all the barriers were down that had been there, the reasons why we couldn’t get there, and so not only could we get to them but they could get to us through the Internet. We never know how those things are going to happen but what we know is that God is writing His story and that secular story rides on the back of sacred history and not the other way around. I remember as a young adult that I used to sit and kind of bite my fingernails when I would see a new incident happening on the world stage because I would think, “Oh my goodness, what is God going to do now? This is really a barrier.” But as we look back, we see them as incredible opportunities and so what we know is that these things come about because some forces began to come into play. These forces are something that are so big and yet alone that can’t make the shift; but it’s the convergence of these forces that then create the culture shifts that we then experienced.
What were the forces in these days as we began to pray for these unreached worlds? What we see is a globalization. We’ve been talking about globalization for many years now. Basically, globalization has brought in a new system in which we all operate. Economics – it has to do with politics, it has to do with the marketplace, it has to do with a connecting, and it connected because of English becoming available in so many parts of the world. Urbanization began to happen at accelerating speed and then the Internet, and these four are some of the major things – these forces that began to push and to strain the things that we knew and where it literally becomes a tipping point in the convergence of it and then we see the cultural shifts. So what were some of these cultural shifts? Some of the culture shifts were the spread and speed of ideas and connections, world views, all sorts of things. Mobility came. You no longer had to be at the workplace. You no longer had to be in one particular country. You could impact the world from all kinds of different places. And then the digital became a reality. Borderless became a reality. A borderless world, surveillance, never click alone as I mentioned earlier, and so then do you see that that convergence kicked off culture shifts that began to converge again and then kicked off more cultural shifts?
Some of the next cultural shifts we see are the hyperconnected world. Now you not only have the kinds of things that the Internet brought and the globalization of the connection but you now get a hyperconnection because everything is connecting to everything else; and so it created a new social fabric in which we’re all living today. Sometimes we think life is like it was, but it really has radically changed. There are new frameworks and often if we ignore these new frameworks, it’s to our own peril. What we know is the younger generation and many from other nations often ignore organizations and institutions. We have a young generation now. I work with a lot of agencies – mission agencies – and there’s more of a resistance to joining and go. They want to go but they don’t want to join and go. They want a hill to take. They don’t want the agency’s agenda. They want the agency’s help and relationship but they don’t want all the other things that go with it.
So we have seen all these shifts and all these things that have changed. There’s a democratization. Thomas Friedman wrote, “The world is flat” a number of years ago, but it’s flattened even more since, and so there’s a democratization of information. No longer do the agencies or the churches or the leaders have all the access, all the information, but it’s available to anyone. I find that one of the things John and I talked about was how I am learning the most from four grandsons who are really two different kind of cultures. The 20- and 22-year-old are very different cultures from their brothers who are 26 and 28, because that’s how fast things are changing; but I am being mentored by them. Yes, I contribute some things as well and we have wonderful conversations but I am being mentored in in the best way possible by a new generation. Most of us now are finding things through our networks more than we’re finding things through those in authority and those who we have typically gone to for the answers.
We find that often we have to move into these mutual mentoring relationships. We have to understand the ecology of communication because it’s totally different today. This democratization has created the microenterprises. They’re not always financial enterprises but they are enterprises, nevertheless. So we are this hyperconnected, hyperurbanized world. When we started the year 1900, only six percent of the world lived in urban centers and today in many places it’s well over 85 percent. In our own country it’s over 80 percent now live in the urban centers. If I could show you the picture, what we see even in Shanghai and China as a whole, it was mostly a rural nation and the urbanization has happened so fast. I remember the day that I was asked to consult when China had decided to develop 57 cities that would be over a million in population and most of them quickly grew to three to five million. They did it deliberately because they had separated people to get control and now they were to get advancement. They were bringing people back together in the urban centers.
There’s also another pattern that we find in most nations. A few nations have more than one but it’s this primate city pattern where most of the country, the biggest majority, the biggest percentages will live in one center, one urban center. Obviously India, China, America and a few others have far more than that but in most countries it’s still one and that’s where the hub of all the government, all the communications, all the education, all the enterprise, the financing is. To reach that one city, you could reach not only that nation but the world, because we’re hyperurban. We’re also hypermediated. Just call out, how many media entities do we have today? We know the old thing about we have the airwaves, we have the TV, we have all that. We have gaming. Just start calling out some of the other platforms we have now for communication, the media communication. What are they? Facebook, yes. What else? Reach Out, okay, what else? Twitter, yes. Snapchat, it just goes on and on; the platforms on phones – we are a digital world; we are highly-mediated, and that is what is helping shape the ideas and the world views of our world today.
It’s always been the music, the media, and the movies that tell us what to think and tell us what our world view is. That’s gone global today but I would add one to it today and it’s the murmurations. It’s the networks. That’s where we are learning how to think what the world view is. Does that say anything to us as a church? Because it is a fact. It is the world in which we live. It is the platform but we’re a hyperempowered world now because of the democratization and we have hyperempowered individuals today. You know, it doesn’t take much. Little is big today and big is little, often in today’s world. It took a few men with a lot of courage, some boxcutters and some blades, and they took down what we knew of as our nation and it put together a very surveillance world. It dealt with our security. It dealt with everything. So it literally created new values. That’s what forces do when they converge and create the culture shifts. Every culture shift then is fraught with new values, and so that’s where we are. We’re a hyperagendized world today too because of this democratization, because of the hyperempowered individuals or small groups and so that’s why we’ve seen the ecology movement, the gay movement, the Islamic movement gain such prominence and have a voice because new media always brings on new voices. And so we have new voices today. It’s impacting our geopolitics today and it always takes the flashpoint. Was it 911, was it the young Muslim man who had a fruit stand overturned and set himself on fire that created the Arab Spring?
There’s always a flashpoint that seems to then coalesce things around the new culture shifts that then create a brand new world. So we have a context today and I personally believe that there are several things about the context because if God has called us to be on mission with Him in this point of human history, we need to understand our context. It’s a very different context and yet most of our processes within the church, most of our systems, most of our frameworks, are from an old world and we’re trying to make them bigger and better, but it doesn’t always work quite as well as we had hoped. So let me just share with you. I believe there are five things about our global context that we need to understand, perhaps in a different way. One is, today we are in a globalized network venue. That’s our venue. That’s our context and these networks are so deep that it brings this whole thing of the five degrees of separation or the six degrees of separation to a whole new level because now there’s usually two or three. Even on your Linked In I’m amazed at what we have access to now, but this networked venue is the operational system in which we are going to need to operate.
We are in a world view conversation today around the world. What are the fault lines of the discourse going on there? Because it’s a global conversation and it is a world view conversation. I know few Christians that know how to have world view conversations. Does that say anything about where our leadership of tomorrow needs to be? It is a global conversation and it’s about how to best live life on this planet, and in this context that we’re in with a globalized, networked venue and with a global conversation going on I believe there is also contested space. It’s contested space. Are we building? Let me just share with you a few things. To be where we need to be, to be in on this world view conversation, to be in the places where the conversations are happening – they’re not safe places often. They’re things that challenge us. After 911, obviously we all knew we’re in a different world. There’s been a disquieting in our spirits ever since. We know God’s up to something. We know something’s happening. We don’t always know how to grab hold of it but we understand that things are happening.
I had been asked to be on a panel in Houston about three weeks later and the question was, “What is it like to be the Church in a post-911 world? What are we dealing with?” At that point we didn’t know if the terrorists were going to hit the next week or the next month and God has been very gracious to us but it doesn’t mean we’re off the map for that. One of the observations made was, all that the terrorists would have to do is figure out that there’s 10,000 and 20,000 and 30,000 meeting in one place on a Sunday morning and hit one. We would have instant house church, we would have obsolete buildings and we would have no budgets to work with. How do you do church in a world like that? Are we preparing our people to be in a church in a world when things are not like they are today?
What I often find in talking to churches about where God is working and how fast can we get there, there are two things that always come up. One is, “We would love to but our budget’s already committed and our calendar’s already committed for the next 18 months.” Come back and see us … but in 18 months the opportunity is gone. The biggest part of the harvest in that place is gone. Our long-range planning has become something that actually hinders the work of God, often, because we’re not paying attention to what God’s doing. We’re paying attention to our budgets and our buildings and our long-range planning. One question I’ve been asking is, “Are we willing to go out of business as an American or a European or an African, or any number of other kinds of churches to actually follow God where He is working?” To actually do and be where He is at work, because those places are dangerous places, and I know right after 911, over 95 percent of the short-term teams were actually canceled for the next summer because it was too dangerous and the church and the mission agency was afraid of getting sued out of business. Sometimes we’re hanging on to our business model rather than being the church and really obeying God at the very point because it is contested space out there and someone is shaping the world views of all those who do not know Him. Where are we in that process?
We’re also in a very vulnerable world in all these ways – ecologically, politically, economically, physically, with epidemics and terrorists. There are lots of ways in which we are more vulnerable. At least we know that we’re more vulnerable today. Isn’t that true? And so, this is the context in which God’s called us to be on mission with Him. We don’t have all the safety nets we’ve had in the past. Who’s stepping up? I’ve been reading in the last week or so about the Ebola and how we’re not taking it seriously, not just the church but the world as a whole, that it’s kind of ho-hum, one more thing. We have to ask a different set of questions because in this world that is a globalized, networked venue and where there is a worldview conversation going on, and that conversation is contested space and we’re in a highly-vulnerable world. Then, what do we do? There is incredible opportunity. The church has an opportunity to shine at its best because there is incredible spiritual hunger in the midst as people don’t have security anymore. As things are changing so fast, they’re looking for an anchor for their life, and they found lots of answers but inside we know that there is spiritual hunger, like never before.
One of the things that we have to often ask is, among other things, what kind of questions have we been asking and answering? Because I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have many answers today. There’s been another age where you feel like you gain a little expertise and you have lots of answers, and so as you’re developing leaders you’ve got answers for all their questions and, yes, I know we’re supposed to ask questions and not give them the answers. But often our expertise comes into play and I want to tell you I have little expertise for this world that we’re living in today. We’re on the cusp of it and what we do know is it’s going to keep changing faster and faster. It’s not going to stay like I’ve described it is today because there’s going to be a new thing birthing. I think I heard it first from Peter Drucker when he said, “I’m not afraid of the wrong answers; I’m afraid of the wrong questions.” So we begin with asking, “What are the questions?” I believe today that if we’re talking about developing leaders for the world in which we are coming into that there’s some different questions that those of us working at developing leaders need to be asking, and I know for most of us we have a framework something like this.
We have a commission and a calling. Everyone does. Every believer does and there are some convictions they need to develop and there’s some character they need to develop and there’s some expertise or competencies they need to have. So somewhere around those four things, most of us delve into it. I particularly want to deal with the competencies more than anything; convictions and competencies, perhaps. But what we know is a God who is writing a story in this chapter of human history. He has a particular set of people on duty and on mission with Him in this world, and He’s not out of control. This hasn’t taken Him by surprise and so He’s shaping it for His purposes. So what is that? What are His purposes? What does He have in mind?
I find a lot of church leaders aren’t on this page but I would assume that if there were leaders in the kingdom that what we’re leading to is what’s on God’s heart which is the finish of this task He left us to do. So within that framework then, where do leaders need to be leading His people? Because we know that they don’t have leaders. They’re like sheep without shepherds. They don’t know where to go and what to do, when to eat, what to think about, and we know that often when we don’t have leaders, we don’t do the right things. I’m the same way and so what does He have in mind that might be different in the kind of competencies, particularly the kind of convictions that developed into the leaders of the future? I know many leaders, because I talk to leaders all over. They say, “I don’t even watch the news anymore. It’s too depressing. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway.”
That person for me is disqualified and the reason is because they’re not understanding that God is shaping His world. He’s not out of control. He has purposes in it and we need to understand what those purposes are and join Him in that. I personally believe that there are a number of new competencies the leaders of tomorrow need and do we need to have some world view conversation competencies? Do we know how to engage in that kind of world view? Most believers that I talk to don’t. They’re not even sure what a world view conversation is. It’s about how to best live life on this planet. Every other world view has some fault lines and every other world view has some lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God, and so we go beyond the Hindu to the human. We go beyond the atheist to the human. We go beyond the Buddhist to the human. We go beyond the secular to the human aspects, and that’s where world view conversation takes place.
Perhaps do they need, instead of management skills and building skills, do they need more navigational skills? Because the world is continuing to change in a faster and faster pace and I need to navigate and not get set, and so what does that mean? Do our believers and leaders of tomorrow, do they need to know how to ask better questions and get to the heart of things? There’s a disquieting in my heart today because I’m not sure where the answers are. I’m not nearly as sure of where to take things as I was a few years ago. So, I’d like to spend my last few minutes with just some conversations around the table. I’d like for you to have some conversations around your table. This is the first question. We’ll get you started. What are the questions we need to ask and quickly answer in order to develop leaders worthy of their calling in a world of continuing convergence? So go ahead and let’s attack that for a few minutes and then we’ll move to the second question. If you’ve come up with some good questions, some better questions, would someone at your table write those down and hand them to me at the end? That would be just very helpful. Let’s go to the next question. Let’s move to the second question.
What must leaders in this chapter of history have among their competencies that you and I do not have? I did my best work in developing leaders when I was in the heart of the battle, right on the front lines in East L.A. for 25 years and my question as I’ve been observing and watching has been for myself and for others. Why am I seeing so many that are in the front lines for a few years and then they get out and they become trainers and leave the front lines, like I have? Malcolm, you wanted to close with some Q&A, I think?
Malcolm: That was an abrupt ending, my goodness! Oh, forget the clock. That’s what it was, I see. It was well-designed. Carol has just done an extraordinary job in a short period of time of establishing our current context, the world in which we live, a lot of how it came to be that way. The extraordinary challenge of the world in which we live, the great danger of this context, but also the incredible opportunity that we have, that God has called us at this time. Let’s take advantage of having Carol here with us and let’s have some Q&A please. She shared a great deal with us; a lot of pieces of the puzzle. The puzzle as a whole was not that hard to follow but some of the pieces might have been a bit challenging, so let’s have some questions. Building navigational skills in young leaders, what does that look like?
Carol: Any of the influential of our day in all kinds of realms, they lived in two or more countries, and some of them eight or nine countries. Does that give us any navigational skills? What if we really challenge young people to actually intentionally try to get jobs, try to move and get to as many places as possible? That would give them some pretty significant navigational skills. So that’s one that comes to mind but I think also just keep challenging with the changes. Often we get set in our patterns and we react certain ways, and so asking the questions about is there another way to react to this, is there some opportunity in this? Where you see a closed door does God have something different in mind? So really getting people to think outside the boxes is one good way. I’m sure there are a thousand others.
Malcolm: The kinds of frameworks that we have used in the past, the patterns especially for us in the Christian training world, those kinds of frameworks and patterns will no longer work in the new world. We need different ways of thinking for building the much more complex capacities; capacities to think, capacities to understand the environment, capacities to be able to respond to the environment and what we’ve done in the past.
Carol: One of the things that strikes me and the question I have is, am I even able to, or how do I develop leaders in a world that I’ve never lived in and it’s off the map for all of us.
Malcolm: How do we develop leaders in a world that we have not mastered?
Carol: We have not mastered and really there are no roadmaps yet because it’s changing too fast.
Audience member: It almost sounds like the assumption is that we need to catch up. Is that the right assumption?
Carol: I’ve wondered. That’s an interesting question because I’ve wondered if we need to catch up or do we need to do what two-thirds of the world did? They never had land mines. They went straight to cell phones. Maybe we just need to jump the curve and just go instead with what is rather than trying to catch up because when you think about all the changes in our world in the last two months, it’s staggering. If we’re behind God, we’re behind and He’s moving human history on. We are not in the place where we were two months ago or two weeks ago. In fact if we’re 20 minutes behind God, we’re behind, and so we’ve just been keeping our eye on the wrong ball and I think we’ve been keeping our eye on a lot of distractions.
Audience member: A comment at our table was the idea of an anchor. With so much speed, so much change, so much that is going on there, where do you get your bearings? Are there bearings and does it – in the end if you project in the future do we get to a point where there’s just such mass confusion, there is no anchor and then is that what is needed? So is the concept of an anchor something that needs to be thought through or addressed that would be countered to going faster, catching up, understanding more?
Carol: I think the answer is yes, and I think we find it in the values of the kingdom: community and all those things that are standard because it’s human and never changes in the midst of that, and I think that’s what’s creating so much spiritual hunger is the speed and the shifts. I have assumed I can’t catch up. So that’s where my grandsons and others younger than me helped me along. But there is definitely an anchor needed. Like I said, these young people, they want – they want a community, they want coaches, they want all that. They just don’t want to join and go and they don’t want to assume that your agenda is the right one, so there’s lots of conflicting paradoxes going on right now.
Malcolm: In particular in the leader development world we have the anchor which of course the scriptures and patterns in the frameworks of life transformation and of leader development that actually give us the capacity to live in this world. If we will break out of the old patterns that in fact were not Biblical in the first place and I’m not hearing Carol say that we should be chasing the trends of the world in that way but the opportunity is for us to return to the simplicity of Christ, the centrality of Christ, and the simplicity of biblical patterns of leader development.
Carol: But we have to do it within the new system of globalization and all, in the network, and we have to do it within the context of the new frameworks.
Audience member: Just one comment. You focus on the global but at the same time one of the current, the things that we see all the time is the resurgence of the local, especially when it comes to identity and so on and so forth. And so when you – when you use a phrase like continuing convergence in a – in the context of globalization without at the same time identifying the identity issues that are tied to local locality, I think you’re always going to end up with a non-answer. So I guess I’m saying it feels like something needs to be said about the local.
Carol: There is no such thing as global or local anymore. It’s global-local is what it is, and the networks have created that. I don’t know of any of the younger generation that have their networks totally in the U.S. or totally local. It’s very all cross-pollinated today and so yes, the local is very important and I’ll give you an example. When the riots happened in L.A. we had amazing relationships, our church, with all other kinds – we were a multi-ethnic church but we had amazing relationships with different ethnic churches and, I mean we did things together in-city. We were close. And when the riots happened all of the sudden it was like it all split apart again. Koreans took care of theirs, African-Americans took care of theirs, Anglos took care of theirs, and it just split everything apart. So sometime these flashpoints actually will divide what’s been brought together but what is seeming to stay stable and shape things are the cross-pollinated networks that are digital.
Malcolm: Remember too, Carol is a big-picture thinker, very big picture.
Audience member: I realize that in asking us those key questions at the end that you want us to continue to grapple with them and you’re not wanting to answer them for us; however, I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the new competencies that are needed by the emerging leaders. You’ve given some thought to those, so maybe you can give some suggestions in that area.
Carol: I think they need the competencies to ask questions that take them deeper and explore the things unknown to them. I think, as I mentioned, they need the competencies to navigate and to have world view conversations. I think they need the competencies to not think it’s all about them and I call that a competency because that’s a hard deal for the kids, particularly in America today and, again, I’ve been dealing with some refugees in Europe and others and they just think they can conquer the world and that there’s nothing that goes wrong, and the center of the world revolves around them. We’ve told them they’re special so long they actually believe it today, and so I think there needs to be some competency to continually humble themselves and realize that there’s something bigger going on. So that’s my first thought. I think there are a number of other things and again, I call this a competency because I just find we don’t have the reflection ability to go deep often because they’re always on to the next thing.
In Colossians it says, “Everything that was created by God was created by Him and for Him,” and I think often our younger generation of leaders don’t really realize that they were created by Him, for Him, and what He’s doing, and not for themselves and their own passions, because we teach it’s all about your gifts, it’s all about your passions. Hogwash, it’s about God and what He created you for, and He gave you those passions. He gave you those things. So I think there just has to be some reflection things to keep coming back to the core truths because they’re hearing so many other things that are contrary to the Word of God that we believe and we even teach in the church today.
Audience member: Hi, I work with those kids who have grown up between cultures, those third culture kids, and they are pushing me all the time, including my own children in those conversations, the mentoring that you were talking about. How do you bring your experience and your understanding of world view questions, even the world view questions to that conversation in ways that enable them to stick with it and keep digging deeper?
Carol: I had most of the experience with my grandsons but I have others too. We have almost daily conversations and so even though I’m all over and not there, but I often say why don’t you explore this other idea or have you ever thought about or help me understand because my experience says such and such, and I can give them a thousand examples. Sometimes they say I never thought of that and other times they say but what you don’t understand is, and so it gets us to dialog because the younger generation, it’s much more about dialog because there is an ecology today of communications, and part of it and the one that they are best at is dialog. We’ve been mostly used to telling and not either listening or asking questions because we were trained in an era that says a leader tells, a leader communicates what is. A leader communicates truth, and there is a degree of truth to that and the Christian world has been pretty good at it but we’ve not been as good at dialog and that’s what the world view conversation is all about, and it starts at home, starts local. It starts about things that we’re all involved in.
Audience member: My question to you was regarding the contested space that you said, and you mentioned that someone is shaping the world view and you said long-range planning also could lead to missed opportunities. I am looking at contested space in the mindset of the next generation, the future generation, and as I look at the question, I ask myself and I ask that you can give us a little advice on that, is how do I live in the mindset of the future generation, maintaining direction, building urgency, and at the same time deliver the truth in packages that they can understand and very comfortable to them? I just look at it because for – we have so much space, many people vying for their minds, a lot of distractions. How do I maintain direction, firstly? How do I build in an urgency to do what needs to be done and how do I package the truth in a way that they can understand and accept?
Carol: Well, that’s about six questions. And as I mentioned to you, I am struggling, I am – I’m on this journey and I don’t have as many answers as I used to. The older I get, the less answers I have but when we talk about contested space we’re saying there are two kingdoms at work and they’re in opposition to each other. We know which one wins and that’s good but I find that asking the right questions is one of the best ways to deliver truth and examining the things that they’re going through, and in terms of urgency I know this is a simplistic answer but if God is passionate about something, and I’m not passionate about it then I’m not urgent about it. And if God has something on His heart and He left us a job to do I think He really wants it finished, and so what would it take to get it finished? That’s the driving question in my life these days. What’s it going to take to actually get it done? Not how do we do it but what’s it actually going to take. And so I don’t have an answer to all of those in a simple way but perhaps we could talk a little later. I would be happy to.
Audience member: I don’t know if this question fits for this conversation we’re having here but in the midst of the world that we’re living in that’s very complex and hyper, what – in what ways or how can we look to Jesus as a model for somebody who was ahead of His times and able to navigate the complexities of His world so that He – I mean I think we’re still trying to catch up with Jesus in some ways. You know, I think we don’t have Him as figured out as we may think because He started something that’s still unfolding. So just what are some of the principles of Jesus’ leadership style? And I think you’re speaking – I don’t really actually have anything specific other than when you say questions. He was really good at asking questions. No question about that and He was able to navigate His world in a way that it just spilled over. I mean it was global. It was totally world view conversation, whatever that is. So I’m just thinking how can we look to Jesus and what ways, what principles did Jesus model for us for navigating a global context, because He did it pretty well, I think.
Carol: My immediate response, without thinking about it, I mean I have thought about that a lot and actually have gained a lot of my understanding from Him but He was in the midst of the battle. He was in the front lines of the battle walking out day by day in relationship but He wasn’t avoiding the problems.
He wasn’t avoiding what was real, what was happening. He was always addressing those very things and I think a lot of times we just get busy in our silo and in our comfortable community and we’re not in the world.
In fact for most churches, as I’ve done surveys, if they do any kind of equipping in the church it’s usually equipping for roles in the church, not in the world, and so the ones who were leading today, I don’t know how many of you are equipping basically people for the church, leaders for the church but we need to also be equipping leaders that are going to be in all domains of life in the world.
In fact one of the things that we find is we used to have regional conference tables handling regional issues from one world view. Today everyone, all the world views are at the same conference table trying to solve global issues; global economies, global terrorism, global everything.
But you see all the world views are at the same table and they’re battling, and we certainly have a conflict going on there, and so I don’t know how to do it except to address the real issues but we don’t have many Christians at those conference tables who have really earned their right to be heard in the marketplace.
So often we are the ones that take the position of resisting and marching and reacting to, rather than helping shape the world’s talking agendas and I think we need to be at that global conference table.
Audience member: Thank you for the insightful sharing. I think one word you used very often is hyper. I think that pretty much represents the nature of this generation which is the information jam-packed. But the reality is as a church leader we all still have 24 hours, like Paul, like Peter in the first century. So from your experiences how do you manage your time investment so that you can really keep up with the transitions, so you can really keep pace with God, so we can serve well?
Carol: Well, we do just have 24 hours in a day and I don’t keep up as well as I should but I do, I limit myself on things that other people spend time on. I’ve always tried to prioritize my family to some degree and I don’t have all the time I need.
But what I do have is I personally, the way I’ve disciplined myself, is to read in different disciplines and try to stay abreast with what’s going on. I do that sometimes better than others in some seasons of life better than others, and obviously when I was a young mom I had three children and I also had 28 foster kids through the years.
There wasn’t the time for some reflection that I’ve had in later years but different seasons give you different opportunities but I was learning from a different place at that time, and so the observation skills, I think, are critical.
What kinds of questions are we asking about the world God has us in and, for instance, in church leadership where I was for a number of years it was the people that I learned from because I was asking questions.
I didn’t need to know everything. They knew a lot of things that I didn’t need to know but when I needed it, we could draw on them and they had a voice. They could help us. So it was lived that way in our congregation’s life.
Malcolm: Let’s, again, show our appreciation to Carol. And could we please stand together and let’s commit ourselves in the context of this dialog to God.
Father, we – our hearts see the challenge, a little bit of the challenge of the world in which we live, of the time in which we are – of the time in which You ordained that we would be here serving You, building leaders in the nations, building children, building young people, building church leaders, business leaders across every sector.
You ordained this law that we would be here now, and so we’re not intimidated by the complexity of the world. We’re not intimidated by the rapidity of change that is occurring all around us constantly, but instead Lord Jesus, we turn to You with trust, with surrender. Lord, You know it all, You see it all, You’ve seen everything.
You are the great God of history. It’s Your story as Carol has reminded us tonight. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one that is bringing it all, ultimately, to the great glory of your Son in these days, and You’re the one that has called us to work with You at this time, and so we know You will give us the courage to challenge our own thinking, to break down the walls of our siloes that have kept us in, that we would take our heads out of the sand and acknowledge, face the reality of this world in which we live, of this world in which You have called us to serve.
We know You will do it, Lord, and so help us. We look at You. We turn away from our own patterns, our own stuckness in traditions and old ways that no longer worked a long time ago, Lord. We turn to You, we return to Your Word, to Your truth, to Your Son, to the purity of Your Son, the simplicity of Your Son, the power of Your Son, the wisdom of Your Son, the capacity of Your Son to lead us, step by step, through these dangerous times.
We look at You, Father, help us, and over these several days help us that we would listen to one another, that we would encourage one another, that all of us together would take some steps, that we can be more effective in doing Your work in Your way, by Your power, by Your wisdom. To that, we commit ourselves in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen. Amen.