Text: Matt 18:1-5
By Edie Lenz, Churches Learning Change
My son LOVES American Ninja Warrior. If you are unfamiliar with the TV show, it is an obstacle course competition involving feats of physical endurance and strength I didn’t know were possible for the human body. My son spends hours in our basement hanging from the rafters and learning to swing and jump from one thing to another. In his ninja classes he takes at a gym centered around these obstacles, he delights in any new obstacle introduced, anything that allows him to challenge himself, try something new, stretch the limits of what he thinks he can do. He is fearless in his willingness to take on new challenges. He often falls the first few times, crashing down onto the mats placed over the floors. But I have never seen any kid at the gym fail to jump up and try again.
It can be challenging as adults to try new things, particularly in public; we don’t like to fail, we don’t like to look foolish. We don’t want to fall on the first 16 tries. This level of self-consciousness is virtually absent in children; it is something they seem to learn as they grow. We all learned to walk, talk, write, read, etc. by failing and trying again. Children are constantly learning, constantly risking getting it wrong, making a mistake, having to start over. As adults, perhaps particularly as leaders, we long to insulate ourselves from this kind of courageous experimentation. We become cautious, overly concerned with looking competent and capable. As leaders, we want to appear to have it together – who will trust us if we don’t?
But change cannot happen without risk. As leaders we are tasked with the need to lead forward, into new directions, to seek the calling of God. This cannot be done from a place of caution; we are to be courageous like children: willing to try, try again, and learn as we go.
We must grow our courage muscles to try new things AND perhaps more importantly to be able to reflect on what we tried. Like my son, analyzing why he fell on that new obstacle and trying it a bit differently the next time – we, as leaders, are to reflect on what has been tried, what has been learned, and what can be gleaned to move forward in courageous possibility.
A Blessing for New Beginnings
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure,
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
– by John O’Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us