Jim Collins asserts “You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.” Read more here

He suggests we need to continually clarify the journey we are on by facing the harsh facts of our reality. False expectations will ultimately hurt people.

Right now, we are still in a tough season of facing the brutal facts and trying to take our people with us on a challenging journey. Do these brutal realities rule out the possibility of vision being present in our plans?

Some thoughts about how we face the reality of our challenges together:

Lead with questions, not answers.
Face challenges together and see how collectively we can move forward. We don’t always have the best answers and that by asking the right questions we often come up with a better solution. We do not need to protect our congregations from the challenges – they could bring some incredibly valuable contributions.

Engage in discussion
One of Jim Collin’s findings was that great leaders would often have meetings that consisted of loud debates and heated discussions. By doing this, they continually “refined” the solution by not just settling on the first one that comes along or letting people “buy in” to their own predetermined solution. Robust discussions which are focussed on finding solutions are valuable.

Don’t blame
When we remove blame from the picture, it allows people to speak the truth without worry or feeling like victims. The important thing is that we are learning.

Empower people
We want to empower people to become part of the solution. They can only do this if they understand the challenges to begin with.

The Stockdale paradox is named after Admiral James Stockdale who was kept prisoner in the Vietnam War and suffered terribly for eight years. The essence of it is:

Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts or your current reality, whatever they might be.

When Stockdale was asked who didn’t make it out of the camp, he said that was an easy question. It was the optimists who said “We’re going to be out by Christmas. Then Easter, then Thanksgiving.” His response to this was “We’re not getting out here by Christmas; deal with it!” He had faith that they were going to get out at some point, even if it wasn’t going to be any time soon.

We cannot protect our people from the realities we face in a time of hardship for our communities and a time of challenge for our church. Allow them to come with us on a journey into a future still to be written.