If it were only straight ahead, it wouldn’t be so precarious…

A number of years ago I heard Jim Collins (Good to Great & Built to Last, both get strong recommendations from me) speak at a conference in Colorado. I wrote down this quote that has plagued (and blessed) my life and ministry ever since, “Are you willing to let go of a hard fought expertise, lose the competence you’ve invested years in, in order to master a new expertise and competence that can take you to a new level?”

It’s all about ‘unlearning,’ recognizing that what you know and have is not always the way to the next step, but sometimes the roadblock to it. This is tough for me, but so intriguing and so inviting. My problem is that I don’t like to look stupid (translation: incompetent). At some visceral level I’d rather keep doing what I know how to do and improve it, and maybe kid myself that I can simultaneously learn the new thing and gradually let it replace the old one. That isn’t impossible, but the facts are that I’m too busy (not proud of that) to keep up the old and master the new, and my ties to what I already know undermines my investment in the new.  It’s like learning to use your left hand when your right hand is still perfectly able to do everything.

God is in favor of new things. God lets old things die; sheds a tear, but lets them go. Creation implies brand new, not gradually evolving from the old. Resurrection isn’t reworking, it is death and a brand new life.

Another of my life verses:The Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now!” Isaiah 43.18-19a TEV

As the pastor of Jacob’s Well (www.jacobs-well.net) unlearning is more important than learning for me right now because I’m getting plenty of new ideas, hopes and inspirations.  The obstacle is clearing room in my head and heart to allow those great things to take root and grow.

I’ll chase down some of the areas I’m trying to unlearn in postings to come. I’d love to hear what others are willing to unlearn, and what it is that is so attractive, so promising, so wonderful that they are willing to go down that risky path. It must be a treasure of great worth!

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3 responses to “If it were only straight ahead, it wouldn’t be so precarious…

  1. Pastor Greg:

    Not having engaged a blog previously I supplied my real name but a proxy email.

    I am satisfied by your answer to my question and intrigued by your navigational metaphor.

    Your interest in sailing matches up with my interest in supplying boats for sailing (and in charting cruises so that others can sail).

    This type of “sailing” is metaphorical – although I do love the flesh and bones type of sailing, too.

    Why do we love it? Because like the live in Christ engaged it is simultaneously beautiful (fascinating/lovely) and scary/challenging.

    My next question: If you are really on the “edge” are you on the leading edge or the bleeding edge?

    If you are safe in your boat then you are on the leading edge. If you jump out of your boat to pick up passengers adrift in the water (who don’t have a boat) then you are on the bleeding edge.

    It is a risky thing to leave the safety of the harbor.

  2. Paul,
    Love the way you think!
    But I’d be careful drawing a sharp line between leading and bleeding (I like that they rhyme, though.)
    There is no such thing as unmixed motives or complete purity of heart this side of eternity. On our best days we are doing this totally out of the vision that God gave us. On ‘other’ days we are just trying to be smart or cool. Hmmm… It is a good thing we’ve got a God that is forgiving and a lot bigger than us.

    All in all, I trust that Jacob’s Well is risking all to share the good news. Our next initiative (which I’ll be blogging about in the upcoming week or so) is a pretty good example.

    Peace! Greg

  3. Pingback: UnLearn Religion « Precarious Pastor

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