A Time to Wonder: Leading in Discomfort

“Are ever going to be able to leave behind this social-distancing way of life?” my neighbor wondered. As we stood chatting on the sidewalk, six-feet apart while our dogs romped and wrestled, we both marveled at the way this would change us as a society.

We won’t really know how until new vaccines or treatments make lock-downs and quarantines things of the past. However, what we do know is that “returning to normal” will not mean returning to the way things were pre-C19.

Until a new normal emerges, questions abound. In times like these, no amount of data or science can answer the questions about how this pandemic is reshaping and reforming us as human beings. What is God is up to and how is God transforming us? Quick-fix answers to questions like this won’t suffice. We cannot be today what only time will make of us tomorrow.

So perhaps at this time, God is calling us to live with the questions. Instead of rushing to solutions and trying to force some sense of normal, maybe God is calling us to wonder. Maybe God is calling us to live, for a while, with the discomfort of not knowing the answers.

Here a few other questions about which this pandemic has made me wonder:
• Can we use this time to better grasp that being “church” is bigger than Sunday morning worship?
• What was considered “successful” ministry pre-C19? Are the same measurements we used to determine “success” still relevant?
• What if we had no building (not even to rent)? Would we still be a church? Would it change our mission?
• Does social distancing apply to dogs, too?

Because of God’s faithfulness to his resurrection promises, I know the sun will rise again. But we first must journey through the night to see the morning. We must live with the discomfort (or pain) of not having answers in order for new responses to emerge.

For leaders, this means living with the discomfort in ourselves and in the people in our congregations. It means resisting the urge to provide answers to the congregation in order to engage together in the kind of struggle it takes for creativity and transformation to occur.

We’ll need to come together in new ways to comfort, console, and encourage one another as we struggle to avoid the quick-fix and patiently allow the new to emerge It might be challenging, but there is gift and opportunity in this place in which we find ourselves. It turns out that it’s a great place to wonder, to ask questions, to experiment, and to reimagine the future without the boundaries and roadblocks of comfortable routines.

Rev. Jim Weckwerth | Consultant | The Joshua Group | jim@thejoshua-group.com