DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Bear and Bare

Written by: on January 16, 2021

It’s a beautiful world we live in. The sound I’m hearing is so big. The waves crashing and the river is so full. The rocks are rolling from the river into the ocean only to be thrown by waves.

No other sounds break through here, this storm of nature. Then, a raven speaks, and the rain begins.

I’m standing on a rock, as I write these first words of this years Blog series. It got dark quick; I’m standing in the pitch black on Bear Beach (a beach just westward of Sooke on Vancouver Island’s south coast). Looking up, I can see the stars in the breaks of heavy clouds. I haven’t seen them for weeks. I can see the smoke, slowly streaming out from the trees near to where I’m camped, dwindling. The fire is about to burn out.

The fire is out now. I know because I threw the burning logs in the ocean and covered the red coals with sand. Lying here, wrapped up in my bag with an extra layer for my feet, my socks become almost too much. Despite the softer ground, layered with the detritus of decades and a resilient mattress, I reassure myself of the comfort.

Hours from anyone, dripping sounds in the bushes outside the tent cause me to wonder what’s out there, who’s watching me.

Curious for one last look at the night sky, the only clearing is out from the trees. Out onto the beach I step carefully, headlamp on yet having to guess some of the steps. Into the open, looking up I know I’m not alone; Orion is there along with the Little Dipper. In the distance across the strait, I can see lights below the Olympics; it’s the USA.

Tired from a night on ground that my body wasn’t used, somehow my body arrived in time to be audience for a resurrection of colours in the eastern sky, a sunrise of vivid azure, violent crimson and tiger orange for the sun along a slit of truth on the horizon line.

The sunrise can be trusted because, like all things of nature unmanipulated, it ‘is’ and it ‘happens’. When original, true, ‘it is good’ nature is made obscure and deviated, it becomes other than trustworthy. In nature, nothing is kept secret, as if an aspect of creation unaltered from its original form could be hidden intentionally.

Everywhere I go, I look for life and beauty and truth, a place where truest nature is not awkwardly accepted, a place where ‘being’ and ‘growth’ can happen naturally. Over the last few weeks, a destination place for hope, a resource in which I have searched for life application, has been Lahey and Kegan’s ‘An Everyone Culture’, a book containing fantastic information on various ideas centring on becoming and being a Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO). These kinds of organisations (three in particular are mentioned in their work/research), ‘create a special kind of human community, one that arises from the gifts of vulnerability and the growth that can flower in it’ [1]. Trust denotes vulnerability, which is not an easy offering and, over time, less so depending on the life experience of the individual. Skills can be offered much easier.

Lahey and Kegan have determined that ‘DDOs evidence several discontinuous departures from typical organisations in the way they nurture strong forms of community and the way these communities serve as vehicles for enacting and negotiating the developmental edge and groove of the organisation’ [2].  The DDO organisation, along with skills, calls for commitment, trust and faithfulness from their people in the process of growth and wholesome development for each person and their community as a whole. This attitude/approach is refreshingly different, which makes me curious.

Nature can enliven the imagination. Sometimes, people seek to capitalize on nature, they seek to take from it with other things in mind, like houses and cars and dollar signs. Sometimes, people see that which is alive and seek to protect it from those who see it otherwise. DDOs consider the organization of people not as a thing to control and impose ‘will’ upon but, they see a community or home of people together as a beautiful living thing to uphold and to be good stewards of. Lahey and Kegan describe DDOs as a ‘work at creating the conditions to drive human flourishing and business flourishing as a part of one interdependent and mutually reinforcing set of goals’ [3]. The goals center on the depth of integrity the DDO community seeks to engender; they are referred to as their edge (growth-focused principles) and their groove (a complimentary set of practices) intended to guide and align both the individual and group toward a shared, celebrated growth [4].

I had some porridge for breakfast the morning I woke up at Bear Beach. (I am reflecting back now, three coffees in at Tim Hortons and no longer writing from a rock with the river and ocean beside me, in front of me). Cranberries to toss in, I remembered however, I forgot a spoon. I had some coffee, to get going and I remembered the milk. However, I forgot the bodum so, it was a little gritty. It was a long night, for darkness, I was in the tent for about twelve hours. Thankfully, I remembered to bring a few books, including ‘An Everyone Culture’. However, I chose to focus my attention on a little book by Mirabai Star called, ‘Saint Francis, Brother of Creation’.

Virtues that Mirabai mentions in her work, from an excerpt of catholic.org, that I perceive could have a positive ‘next-steps’ effect on the Deliberately Developmental Organization and progressive, growth-mindset for the individual and community, include the following: Holy Wisdom, Pure and holy Simplicity, Holy Poverty, Holy Humility, Holy Love and Holy Surrender [5]. Application is everywhere. Grandiose expectation and creating frameworks dependent on people can create unintended fragility. Application for ‘better ways’ is all over space and time and science. There’s application in the person of Jesus Christ and the determination of a  model for faithfulness in ‘his bride’. I am optimistic.

I found a rock by the stream before I left Bear Beach, I recorded the sound of the stream to remind me. I took the rock but, hesitated because so much has been taken from nature. I found another rock by the ocean; I recorded the sound of the ocean to remind me. Only two rocks, both with hesitation; the rocks are in my pocket like a promise and, at least for now, I will not forget.

 

Bibliography

[1] Kegan, Robert, and Lisa Laskow Lahey, Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press Review, 2016), 119.

[2] Kegan and Lahey, An Everyone Culture, 108.

[3] Kegan and Lahey, An Everyone Culture, 119.

[4] Kegan and Lahey, An Everyone Culture, 119.

[5] Starr, Mirabai, Saint Francis of Assisi: Brother of Creation (Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True, 2013), 56-57.

About the Author

mm

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

10 responses to “Bear and Bare”

  1. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    Chris,
    First, its so good to hear you living within your humanity in the vast open of creation. May that time, those sounds, and the rocks remind you from which you came.

    Second, the commodifying of all things stood out to me in your words. An Everyone Culture helps us imagine a way of working that no longer commodifies people as a means to an end, but centers them as a means in and of themselves. You wrote: “Grandiose expectation and creating frameworks dependent on people can create unintended fragility. Application for ‘better ways’ is all over space and time and science. There’s application in the person of Jesus Christ and the determination of a model for faithfulness in ‘his bride’. I am optimistic.” Can you unpack these thoughts for me some more? How does this impact your research, your work at the Mustard Seed? You listed a number of areas of focus. Is there 1-2 that you feel would have the most impact if implemented/lived out well?

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Thanks Darcy.

      The DDO sounds great. Almost too great and, context and ‘people’ specific (in my opinion). I love the ideas. Always in consideration of application, with a grain of salt.

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Further, I suppose my guard is up! No one has ‘it’ figured out. I appreciate with DDOs that there is an interest toward learning, listening to and walking with people. I really appreciate that. My concern, is that if there is a sense that ‘this’ or ‘that’ is the way, ‘this’ or ‘that’ way becomes quite fragile. From what I have witnessed, if it is not the ‘way’ itself that becomes fragile, it is the person promoting ‘this’ or ‘that’ way.

      Finally, my hope is in Christ. I think there are pieces of God’s way being expressed all over the place. Not in one place, in particular.

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      I have hope. Somehow, I still do. (ie. optimism)

      I’m reflecting on every experience, every word, engagement, situation into real life. Usually, I’m somewhere between wonder and struggle. It all applies, somehow. (The challenge for me can be to not overthink, over apply).

      I’m not sure what you mean by ‘areas of focus’? Are you referring to what was mentioned from Mirabai Starr’s work?

      If so, simplicity and wisdom and love and poverty/humility/surrender 🙂

      Thanks for checking in Darcy. So appreciate your thoughts and care! Looking forward to learning from your post later tonight or in the morning.

      • mm Darcy Hansen says:

        Yes, all that helped. Thanks for unpacking that a bit more for me. I appreciate it! I agree that often the “this” or “that” does become more about the person that developed the this/that then the process itself. It would seem that for a DDO to really function, a super healthy leadership team would be absolutely required. I’d say finding one of those is rare in both business and ministry.

  2. mm John McLarty says:

    Vivid reflection, Chris. I share your curiosity about the DDO approach, especially whether or not it’s just a means to getting people to give more of themselves to their work. If Greg’s post is right and 85% of workers are unhappy in their jobs, then maybe a better way is to let people do their 9-to-5 and clock out to find life and fulfillment in the other 2/3s of their day. Just a thought.

  3. mm Greg Reich says:

    Chris,
    Thanks for sharing your outing with us. Camping on the ocean is on my bucket list. I liked your comment “a place where being and growth can happen naturally.” How much of your growth as an individual has been natural and how much has been deliberate? A DDO in and of itself is a deliberate action toward growth. But as a coach I have found that once the mind is taught to look holistically at life we slowly wake up to a world where we see how God has orchestrated grow and opportunities in our lives through circumstances we often take for granted.

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Thanks Greg, let’s plan a trip!

      Deliberate growth is the more painful I would say. Some of it, unnatural and pushed/hurried in ‘off’ directions.

      Deliberate, has usually been the response to necessity. So, there has been stress. Some of ‘the deliberate’ has been essential, I have to admit.

      The natural waking up is the way into truth. Being deliberate about being in a space/place whereby natural growth/development/progressions have opportunity?

      Sweet movement. Milk and Honey. Presence toward the ‘promised land’ in every circumstance (re. application).

      Thankful 🙂

  4. mm Jer Swigart says:

    “Everywhere I go, I look for life and beauty and truth.”

    That’s the outlook of the leader of the future.

    That is the kind of leadership required to shape a DDO.

  5. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    You mention vulnerability, which my wife have now had an ongoing conversation for years about its place in leadership. Broad question, I know, but what do you see as the appropriate use of vulnerability in leadership?

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