The Treasure and the tension

Have you noticed how much tension is around? Maybe you’re rubbing your neck or shoulders as you read this or maybe you read the news and you know there is a lot of tension around?

This past year has made me realise more than ever something about tension…..we don’t like it! We will do all we can to resolve it or make it go away!

Here’s the thing…..leadership and life is often about distinguishing between ‘what is a problem to solve and what is a tension to manage’. I first came across this idea several years ago when Andy Stanley, the lead pastor of North Point community church, opened my eyes to this truth.

Tension creates movement, without tension nothing much happens!

Tension creates opportunity for what wasn’t there before or what has never been there at all…

Without tension our bodies wouldn’t work, our relationships wouldn’t grow, our differences wouldn’t be resolved and in short our lives might be tension free but they would be….dull!

More and more I’m hearing people desperately trying to resolve tension that we would be better off acknowledging, embracing and trying to manage.

Several years ago the leadership author Jim Collins talked about the genius of the ‘and’ and I believe this is truth because there is treasure when we learn to embrace ‘both/and’ rather than settle for ‘either/or.’

So here’s my ‘big idea’ for this season…..

Don’t settle for OR when the treasure is in the AND

As we begin to emerge from the Covid pandemic, businesses are asking things like…

Should our staff work from the office OR from home?

Why can’t it be ‘and’?

Education is asking….

Should our lessons be online or in the class room?

What can’t it be ‘and’?

From my world as a church leader here are some of the questions I hear so often…

Should we meet ‘in person’ or online? Missional or attractional? Gathered OR scattered? Physical OR digital? Big OR small? Deep OR wide?

Why can’t it be ‘and?’

Don’t settle for OR when the treasure is in the AND

We see it in society in general….are you for this OR for that? Do you support him OR do you support her? Do you agree with this OR do you agree with that?

Are there things that are clear cut? Of course there are but much less than we’d like to admit in my opinion! Maturity is being able to hold things in tension and be ok with that….

The alternative that we see all too often is a binary, divisive approach that results in factions and divisions but if you’re a Jesus follower we are called to something bigger and better and it will require us to manage some tension along the way…

I totally understand why we want to resolve tension, it’s simpler, it’s less demanding, it’s clearer it’s less grey in a world where we long for things to be simpler and clearer…..BUT…in resolving tension we can miss the beauty, power, energy, life and richness of what ‘and’ can bring….

3 reasons ‘AND’ is preferable to ‘OR’…

#1 – ‘AND’ requires us to listen more…..

Tension may be resolved when everyone thinks, speaks and acts the same but where is the treasure in that? The racial tensions we have seen and experienced this past season have surely awakened within us the desire and willingness to listen to people who are not like us…

I long for a world that’s black AND white not black OR white….but not in the way people think…..think about it!

The Bible teaches us to be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.’

James 1 v.19 NIVUK

The words James uses here mean ‘swift and ready’ to listen but when it comes to speak be ‘slow and deliberate’ if anything ‘wait and be late’.

Why? The more you listen the more you understand and the more you understand the less angry you become….imagine a world like that?!!

#2 – ‘AND’ requires us to grow more…

The tension of managing the OR calls more from us; compromise, seeing other people’s points of view and whilst that’s a challenge and demanding at times it also delivers growth where it matters.

After all, as Rick Warren once said, ‘God is less concerned with our comfort than He is with our character’

Managing the tension rather than trying to resolve it brings more out of us, shapes us more into the image of our creator and reflects beauty in diversity…now that’s what I call treasure!

#3 – ‘AND’ requires us to love more…

This is where I’ve sighed so many times over the last year or so reading and listening to people trying to solve problems that were meant to be tensions to manage.

Tensions that contain treasure require love of another kind. It’s a love the apostle Paul describes in his famous chapter often read at weddings….listen to what this love is like….

“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesnt want what it doesnt have. Love doesnt strut, Doesnt have a swelled head, Doesnt force itself on others, Isnt always me first,” Doesnt fly off the handle, Doesnt keep score of the sins of others, Doesnt revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG

As we prepare to emerge from this season, as we seek to help rebuild families and communities, we need a new narrative one that seeks to bring together rather than tear apart, one that seeks to build bridges rather than create barriers.

In short we should ask ‘what does love require?’….then we do that…..it’s going to include some tension we need to manage….so…….

Don’t settle for OR when the treasure is in the AND

4 thoughts on “The Treasure and the tension”

  1. Heather griffiths

    God created us as differant individuals.he loves you AND I not you or I.He has a plan for you AND I not you or I.God values you AND I in equal measure.

  2. Margaret Morcom

    Was already pondering “the genius of the word ‘and’” in replacing the word ‘but’. Simply put ‘it was a great morning but it rained in the afternoon’ – the ‘but’ suggests the morning was spoilt by the afternoon, ‘and’ suggest both parts of the day were valued. Applied to more complex issues and we’re changing the narrative as happens when we replace ‘or’. Somehow it opens our thinking wide, to new possibilities and a world of opportunities.

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