It was a tough week. I can’t point to a lot of specific incidents or situations that made the week so difficult, but the overall tone of the past few days had been a low rumble.
Everything felt chaotic. Nothing made sense. Things that should be simple and straight-forward seemed cloudy and difficult. All I could see was disorganization and gaps and question marks.
Like many people, I can be my worst critic and that I was, relentlessly so, this past week.
My temperament makes me particularly appreciative of predictability and order and routine. A bit ironic considering I am the executive pastor at a young, Pentecostal church! (Regardless of vocation though, in my experience, a life following Jesus is never predictable, amen?) As I head into my sophomore year of leading leaders, I am more certain than ever before that the chaos isn’t going anywhere!
A degree of chaos is a thing to be anticipated, not to be surprised by so much. (Someone remind me of this point in about 48 hrs. My short-term memory is less than impressive.)
Therefore, the name of the game is not eradicating the chaos, but learning how to manage it. Chaos has taken up permanent residence in my life to some extent. However, what I’m coming to believe and remind myself of on a daily basis is that its presence in my life, in my church, in my staff, isn’t necessarily always a reflection of my leadership skills or lack there of.
Its presence can’t change the unchangeable.
Chaos is not always a bi-product of poor planning or bad decisions.
Sometimes it’s just flat chaotic. Sometimes no amount of planning would have prepared you for that phone call. No pros & cons list would have warned you of the results you just got. You can read all the leadership blogs and attend all the conferences you want- they can’t teach you to banish the chaos. (At least not in a way that doesn’t make your system your god.)
Even ‘managing’ the chaos might be more ambitious than is reasonable or possible. Perhaps a better way to say it is making peace with the chaos. I’ve decided it’s a bit like bull-riding (which I clearly know a lot about?!). The goal isn’t to domesticate the bull or teach it how to sit or roll over. The goal is to stay on that angry cow for eight seconds!
(That’s hilarious. Angry cow of chaos. That’s my new name for it.)
Weather, traffic, power outages, sleep deprivation, hunger, a flat tire, a lack of leadership, selfishness, incompetency, mistakes– the number of things that contribute to the angry cow of chaos we found ourselves riding are a bit irrelevant sometimes.
Hang on. The round will end. A reprieve will come. It won’t last for nearly as long as you’d like, but it will be enough.
Enough to rise to the next occasion.
Enough to keep you dependent on your Maker.
Enough to remind you that grace is the only thing that keeps you from being trampled to death by the ever-present wild beasts of chaos.