I have over the years come to embrace three questions my friend Ann taught me to take stock of things.
I have used these three questions to guide vestries toward a vision, to evaluate employees, to figure out why I'm feeling out of sorts, to help people get above their confusion, lots of things.
Here are the three questions.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Ann's questions free us from useless conversations about Right/Wrong, Good/Bad. Blame/Guilt, all that yucky and ultimately unhelpful stuff.
The questions are about functionality.
WHAT WORKS? Things tend to either work or not. There is no judgement or morals or values involved in naming the 'working' stuff of life.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK? Same thing--no judgement involved--it isn't 'what's wrong?' There's actually nothing 'wrong' about stuff that doesn't work. It simply doesn't serve us well and, like a pen out of ink (one thing that 'doesn't work') all we have to do it throw it away or stop trying to make it work when it won't.
WHAT'S MISSING? This is the question that opens the way to Ah-Ha moments, to transformation, (not change...we usually try to 'change' stuff that doesn't work and make it work. That's a dead end.) The more things 'change', we all know, the more they 'stay the same'. Change is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic--it makes you feel busy but they're going to end up on the bottom of the North Atlantic no matter how they are positions.
Asking 'What's Missing?' opens up the box where all the new possibilities are, where creation lives, where transformation can occur. "What's missing?" doesn't allow us to reconcile ourselves to what IS, it gives us permission to create something new ex nilio--'out of nothing', the way 'creation' works. And we create, interestingly enough, by 'saying so'. In the beginning was the Word....And God 'said'....
I want to engage the Cluster churches I share in a conversation about the future. Asking 'what's wrong?' or 'what's bad?' is a more than useless exercise. People will get all caught up in the wrong-ness and bad-ness of everything and never get to a place where they can 'create a future that wouldn't happen anyway.'
That's another thing I've learned from knowing my friend Ann--there are, in reality, two distinct and different Futures. There is the Future that will happen anyway if we just wait until it shows up. But there is also the Future we can create that wouldn't happen anyway.
It all comes down to this--do we want to be 'at cause' or 'at effect' in life? We can have a 'say' in the Future we create. The Future that's going to happen anyway, if we just wait for it, is going to make us mute and hapless and without possibility.
So ponder this about your life: What works? What doesn't work? What's missing?
Ponder that for a time....
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