A Call To Relevant And Adaptive Leadership.
We live in a world where we have come to recognize that change is the only constant. This is so much so in what we have come to call “The secular world” or secular2 in Charles Taylor’s definition, change has become unpredictable because it happens too fast. In such an environment, and especially today when technological advancement has accelerated change, leadership is more about managing through this change to maximize on the inherent opportunities while minimizing on the threats posed by the changes.
Reading James Smiths book which is a “field guide” for Charles Taylor’s A secular age, there is a lot about the changes that have taken place in society, especially the west. We “have moved from a condition where, in Christendom, people lived naively within a theistic construal, to one in which we all shunt between two stances, in which everyone’s construal shows up as such; and in which moreover, unbelief has become for many the major default option”. “We have moved from where it was virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in the western society, while in 2000 many of us, find this not only easy, but even inescapable”. This is the situation that faces the Christian leader today which are very different from 1500. There has a long held thesis that hypothesized that religious belief would decrease as modernity progressed, which prognosis has not proved to be true. In Taylor’s Taxonomy, he moves away from that argument which is based on beliefs, whereas he thinks that the essences of “the secular” is a matter of believability. Taylor thus have a three fold taxonomy of “secular” as: In classical or medieval accounts where “secular amounted to “the temporal”, the realm of the “earthly” politics or of “mundane” vocations, referred to as Secular1; In modernity “secular” refers to a nonsectarian, neutral, and areligious space or standpoint which is referred to as Secular2; and a third sense of secular (Secular3) where religious belief or belief in God is understood to be one option among others, and thus contestable (and contested). This Secular3 is the subject of Taylors discussion and where we now find ourselves where, it is “a move from a society where belief in God is unchallenged and indeed, unproblematic, to one in which it is understood to be one option among others, and frequently not the easiest to embrace”. This is the space as Christian Leaders, we find ourselves in a “secular age” even if religious participation be visible and fervent. The conditions have changed and I believe will continue to change, yet we have to continue doing our Christian duty as leaders to reach out to the people. It is clear that there is room for Christendom in the “secular age” and as Christians, there is room to reach the people for Christ.
As Leaders the big questions that we must ask are: how can we maximize on the opportunities that are presented by these changes using the strengths that we must identify as the church?; and how can we minimize the impact of the threats posed by these changes in the “conditions of belief”. How can we make the Gospel relevant to the people in this “secular age” and be adaptive to the new “conditions of belief?” These I believe are very critical questions that we must be able to answer if we will be successful in our kingdom responsibilities as Leaders and fulfill our calling as Christians in this age. This reminds of Paul’s assertion in 1 Corinthians 9: 20-22, that to the Jew, he became a Jew to win them and to those under the law, he became like one under the law (though himself was not under the law) so as to win them and so on. Paul as a great leader was able to manage change as it happened and to adapt to the new conditions as they presented themselves in order to achieve the God given objectives of winning people to Christ. We must also rise to the occasion and pray to the Lord of Harvest that we likewise will prevail in the “secular age”.
 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018).
 James K A smith, How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 19.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 20
 Bible, NIV, I Corinthians 9: 20-22.
 Ibid., Matthew 9:38.
2 responses to “A Call To Relevant And Adaptive Leadership.”
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Nice post, Wallace. And great question: “As Leaders the big questions that we must ask is how can we maximize on the opportunities that are presented by these changes using the strengths that we must identify as the church?” I think this is a valuable question to learn how to capitalize on the inevitable changes, because, as you noted, change is a constant in life. Food for thought, my friend. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Nancy, I appreciate your comments. We have to be relevant and adaptive to fulfill our calling in a world that is constantly changing.