I’ve been spending a lot of time meditating and studying one of Cru’s seminal texts, Ephesians 5:18, as I review Simon Walker’s thoughts on leadership and power in Leading with Nothing to Lose. I humbly offer encouragement to how I see it shaping the Innovation department within my organization. I have been guilty of previously not paying much attention to the context of Ephesians 5. Preceding 5:18 and the call to be filled with the Spirit is a creative poem the early church most likely used as a baptismal hymn “Wake up, O sleeper…” (v. 14). Paul invites people to awaken from spiritual lethargy, walk in the revealing and transforming light, and experience the resurrection power in the present through being filled with the Spirit. And he does this with a poem – an expression of creativity. Then, just after the call to be filled with the Spirit Paul says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” (v. 19). Another form of creative expression! The call to be filled with the Spirit is largely a fruit of responding to God’s creative redemption and marked with a similar generative expression. There is a dance, or a virtuous cycle, of being filled with the Spirit leading to creativity, and creativity posturing us to be more prone to seeking being filled with the Spirit.
Another mark of being filled with the Spirit is “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (v. 21). Through the recent discovery sessions around this topic, many Cru staff talked about tensions existing between “higher levels of leadership” and field staff. I began wondering, “What might that look like for these two groups to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ?” An image came almost immediately to my mind. For non-executive staff, I believe submitting means putting down their guns. While not ignoring the hurt and confusion of staff, it is time to move on from grudges and bitterness held from the reorganization. I imagine if everyone in the audience had a laser-sighted gun in their hands, the executives would be riddled with red dots. How damaging, hurtful, and impossible to lead when you are covered in laser sights just by stepping onto “the stage.” I want to be a part of helping staff put down their guns.
The text describes a mutual submission. I wouldn’t be so audacious as to judge the executive team’s hearts, but I have discovered a feeling of lack of trust from many staff. If Cru is to move forward in health there must be a real and felt trust from the executive team to allow staff to experiment with DNA-infused creative ideas and expressions. I perceive a vicious cycle of staff’s growing bitterness naturally causing a “tightening of the grip,” which in turn creates more bitterness. I believe a reimagined Innovation department can foster tangible ways to allow for trust with aligned experimentation.
Simon P. Walker, The Undefended Leader (Carlise, UK, Piquant, 2010)