Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Upside of Tension

One of the best presentations at the Global Leadership Summit in August was by Andy Stanley. He talked about the “upside” of tension. Most of us see every challenge as a problem to be solved. Stanley suggested that some challenges are problems to be solved, while others are tensions to be managed. We must learn to recognize the difference. There will always be decisions to be made about ministries, use of time and use of resources. When we “resolve” some of these tensions, we often create a new tension.

Occasionally, I will come across something that I wrote when I was a young minister with a young family. An ongoing concern during that time was having a healthy balance between time for ministry and time with family. Did I every resolve that tension? Of course not. I deal with it even to this day. This was not a problem to be solved but an ongoing choice to be made.

There are some tensions we learn to live with.

Although Stanley did not refer to scripture in his presentation, we can find biblical examples of this. Jesus himself experienced this type of tension. We see it in Mark 1:29-39:

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"

Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (NIV)

Jesus healing; Jesus praying. Time with humanity; time with God. These are really two sides of one coin that made him who he was. This was the tension that drove his ministry. Tension can be a motivator rather than a demotivator if we recognize its constructive dimension.

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