From I to We to Why


I don’t usually buy books in airports because they are often expensive, but while on the way back from the Leadership Essentials Immersion (presented by the Pastoral Leadership Institute [PLI]) in Chicago which Susan and I participated in, I bought a book titled Emotional Intelligence (You Can Actually Use) by Kerry Goyette. The reason I bought the book was because of a sentence that caught my eye on the back cover: “Contrary to what you might have read, emotional intelligence (EQ) always starts with the environment you create and not the skills you have.” That connected with something that Susan and I were talking about as we discussed creating a vision for our family.

Telescope by drew-coffman-BCBTLsBspqY-unsplash
Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

One of the many things that was taught at the PLI Immersion, was the Discipleship Square. You might remember something about this from the January 26 message that I preached, but the teaching on this concept was much deeper at PLI than what I did. Susan and I realized I am strong on the L3 (You do, I help) and L4 (You do, I watch) sides of the square, while Susan is strong on the L4 and L1 (I do, you watch) sides of the square. The side where both of us are weak is L2 (I do, you help), the side where vision is very important to help learners to keep moving forward even as they experience frustration and realize that they are not as competent as they thought they were. We realized that we need a vision for our family to help our children move around the square, and the vision that God gave us for our family is “To create nurturing environments that build each person up in faith, hope and love so all can love courageously.” So when I saw that sentence on the back of the book, I was already motivated to learn about creating environments.

One of the main themes in the book is that for individuals, groups and organizations to reach their full potential, people need to move From I to We to Why.

All of us are inherently self-centred. Often when we do something, even when it is a good thing for someone else, we are actually doing it for our self. Other people easily pick up on that self-centredness and the group never goes anywhere as a result. The first shift is to move from caring primarily about our self to caring first and foremost about others. We already know that we need to do this from Jesus’ words on the night when He was betrayed: This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12). However, we are only able to love others selflessly as we rest in Jesus’ unconditional love for us. Knowing that He is holding us, we can let go of ourselves and love freely.

Yet, if we stop here, that is not enough. We need to move from We to Why because people will never be able to accomplish great things together for God unless they know Why. The Why is what connects with people’s intrinsic motivations and moves them to set aside petty differences and serve, give and love sacrificially to make God’s audacious goals happen. And where do we get that why from? From vision.

We all need to have vision in our lives. We need to have a vision from God for our lives, our homes, our family, our neighbourhood, and our school or work life. God has given us the ultimate vision, the end game towards which all things are working towards in the Bible:

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)

What does this mean for our church, especially in a time when great challenges surround us and there are signs that the institutional church is passing away? We need vision too, and I believe that the vision God has given me for our church is this:

To be a church that transforms lives by embracing new ways to reach new people for God’s Kingdom.

We want to do our part to make that crowd worshipping Jesus at the end of time as large as possible and that means doing new things to reach new people because the old ways are not working anymore.

I will unpack more in the future. In the meantime, I encourage each and every one of you to lean into God for all the vision that you need in all areas of your life.

In Christ’s love,

James

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