Last week I had the privilege of sneaking into a session for Scottish ministers/leaders and listen to Rev Dr. Richard Tiplady speak on “How to lead when you don´t know where you are going?“

I loved the title and was so excited when Richard told me, I can join. I did, but only for the input part. I left the rest to Scotland to sort themselves out! 🙂

I remember a vivid discussion with Richard and Rob Hay during a Mission Commission meeting in 2012, picking their brains and asking them, “what would you do if you were in my seat?”. O boy, they were radical – and very stimulating. 

The question about the future and how do we lead well through these turbulent times is very much on my mind and heart. Not only for myself but also for the hundreds of younger leaders I engage with. Over the past few months I have read on trends and impacts like never before. One of the verses, 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NLT) struck me recently through my Lausanne engagement: “From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take”.

I wish to understand the sign of the times so much more so that we will navigate well into the future. As church I often feel we are too late. 

“Leading into the unknown” or “leading through the fog” are terms I have heard being used to describe leading through this Covid-19 year. Some people have produced excellent resources on it. “How to lead when you don´t know where you are going” therefore caught my attention. And I am so glad I joined.

Once again, spending time with Richard though from afar was a great inspiration.

There were many gold nuggets in his sharing, but let me share with you some of my favourites:

  • Making sense of the world we live in is highly important. First, figure out what is going on and secondly, discern what to do next. 
  • We are much better at figuring out what is going on than discerning what to do.
  • We need to catch reality without killing it.
  • I need to find an answer to, “what is in your fridge?” (Dave Male, How to pioneer, 2016) or as God asked Moses, “what do you have in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2) discerning and starting to “cook” with the available ingredients.
  • Need to discern the potential and act upon it.
  • We cannot sit back and wait for the unknown to clear itself. We need to prepare for the future through: investment in training, team building, financial development etc.
  • “It is in the realm of the glimpsed potential that the future takes place” (Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers, 2002)
  • It is taking the first steps into the fog trusting God´s leading.
  • We need to have a different kind of story-telling in these times of Covid-19 or any other crisis so that new ideas can grow.
  • Design thinking is a great tool helping to frame the creative process: Framing, analogical reasoning, abductive reasoning, mental stimulation.
  • We should welcome disruption and disturbance.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them”.
  • We work with natural disorientation to invite something transforming (Emerson). 

Richard, very grateful for your inspiration! 

Question to us: What is in your fridge? What has God put into your hands right now?

It will be enough to lead into the unknown. Together with others!