How unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us; no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our charcters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we know Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us.
A.W. Tozer ‘The Knowledge of the Holy’
Being Honest With Myself
Surely this is the starting point of being able to be honest with others? The unashamed acceptance and understanding of ourselves. The ability to recognise our strengths and weaknesses with a certain amount of objectivity. If we are honest with ourselves, what have we to fear of others honesty with us? Being honest with myself adds strength to my character and to my presence. If I am honest and objective about my faults, then it minimizes the vulnerability I might feel in talking about those issues when they impact on situations or others around me.
Being Honest With You
This is the piece of the pie that is so distasteful to us. It is easy to be honest about easy things. But being honest with others is so challenging. We feel the sharp edge of the knife so ready to point in our own direction. We have to be so certain of our motives, so sure of the nature of our commentary. There is a kind of honesty that happens between friends – that sacred space where you can not just admit your faults and weaknesses, but talk about them, shape them, interact with them not just as individuals but as friends. We talk, we learn, we grow.
Being Honest With Us
There is an honesty within organisations that is difficult to ascertain, shape and craft for traditional hierarchial models. An expectation of responsiveness, attentiveness and freedom of discussion, a corporate ownership of ideas and organisational identity that is so prevalent in Generations X, Y and Millenial mindsets struggles to find it’s expression in more traditional organisational forms. Witness how these younger generations struggle within the employment structures allowed for by our current policies.. and these too, translate to our volunteer, community based organisations and even our churches.
How do we corporately choose honesty, transparency and discussion which is so crucial to the communication models of these generations, whilst satisfying the disclaimers of privacy, propriety and decency outlined by older traditions of structure and hierarchy? For the ’emerging’ generations, their expectatancy (cast on them by a world that is driven and dominated by ‘youth culture’) is that no topic is out of bounds. Ignorance does not prejuidice one’s ability to sustain opinion or diatribe on a topic. Therefore they expect to influence the policies and culture of the organisations they operate in almost immediately.
Where the up and comings in their 20s and 30s are managing projects, budgets, staff, deadlines, their own businesses, contracts and doing so on behalf of businesses also, there is a rough transition to volunteer organisations that mobilise the people within a structure that supports the tenure of the ‘expert’ at the top of the triangle.
These expectations collide, and honesty about Us, the organisation or community, gets murky along with the expectations of what’s appropriate or not appropriate because the culture rules are so vastly different for each group.
Being Honest With The Future
On so many levels, traditional evangelical structures must shift and change leadership and communication strategies as the rising leadership generation seeks to rectify the balance of what they see in life. Leaders in so many other sectors of life, will expect to exercise similar influence within peer-led leadership structures. Will we see a new baby-boomer-like church boom filled with those 20s and 30s somethings who cannot fit within the traditional church models? How will this same shift affect the future of not-for-profits? Models of community organisation are shifting at the time as maturing communities continue to exist. What happens to the money pool, the authority issues, the integration issues?
My reflections on the last couple of weeks are filled with anecdotal thoughts on the impact of corporate or community honesty and our ability or inability to deal with honest yet challenging and difficult issues as communities. Raising potential issues to the surface comes with large amounts of vulnerability on the part of traditional leadership structures, and some measure of arrogance on part of the new emerging generations that expect a different approach to community issues.
I might suggest that the observation of some of these behaviour and values patterns, suggests that where Generation X has been traditionally vocal about issues relevant within their community structures, particularly even around ideas of reshaping church mission, leadership etc (see emerging church ad infinitum)….
My suspicion is that Generation Y and Millenials are much more proactive. Alongside their sometimes arrogance or overt confidence in putting forth opinions and ideas, they are also much more likely to have an emotional response to the needs of the community and see what contribution they can make. They’ll also stick around long enough to convert some of their words into action.
*This is a really important difference for baby-boomers who potentially were burned by the noisy and at times non-commitalm unproductive Gen X’ers that were more likely to turn their backs on these community organistions and do their own thing.. it’s important to learn to look for the different voices of the generations..
**This also is a really important difference to note: Gen X’ers are more typically (bearing with generalizations for the moment) disregarding of authority and non-commital to community organisations or structures, Gen Y & Millenials are more typically distrusting of authority, but more trusting once Trust is earned or there is an emotional/moral value attached to a particular community or organisation. Millenials are the most likely to instinctively place value on these community organisations, but have high expectations on them based on the rest of the marketplace.
***Third, but important also to note: beyond breaking down the decades into birth quotas, with the emergence of a new ‘generation’ every few years, many of the characteristics formerly associated by way of chronological timeline no longer apply. Environment and influence is profoundly impacting in the development of the thinking patterns and moral values that define the generational stereotypes. ie: some young people born in the mid-90’s display thinking patterns and traits more predominantly associated with a ‘baby-boomer’ perspective on authority, structure, security, truth. The rules are – identify the thinking patterns and moral values to help figure out the cultural framework they’re coming from before leaping to conclusions.
There is something in these younger generations that is relatively inspiring, it reminds me of Blackaby’s hopeful espousal = that the vision of God is found in the people of God. Not only are these Gen Y/Millenials confident and assured enough to bring their vision and heart to the table, but they have a positive enough esteem in the Church (intentional big C) to invest themselves in it’s restoration, redeemption and ongoing existence on the planet. This is great news for those actively wanting to reshape and make space for these fresh minds and fresh thinking on the journey of the evangelical church.