I've been clearing out old emails and came across this rather challenging piece of correspondence from a high profile Christian author. I post this, probably unwisely, only as a means of parking the challenge on my blog for future personal reference and not on-going debate. While not written in a UK context, I look at the insight and as with any criticism I ask is there truth in it? And what do I do with it? Clearly the rather large Christian personality had a bad week of retreat and felt he was shouting in the dark, but for my own reflection I want it to remain a personal challenge.
:: as an officer it is very easy to slip into corporate criticism and misery
:: as an officer it is very easy to see your own spiritual formation as one more thing to fit in
:: as an officer it is very easy to see mission as one more thing to do
:: as an officer it is very easy to forge out an identity through ticking boxes
As a statement of intent - I can't and won't let that happen to me!
»May I write candidly? As much as I admire & love the SA I often feel as if my times on officer retreats are unsatisfying.
Within the past 2 weeks I was with a divisional group. I sense an overwhelming despair from many officers. The older ones can't wait to retire. The younger feel inundated with busyness, systems, & resistance to innovation. Talk about a vital interior life is frustrating because there simply is no time. Talk about deep personal relationships is spurned because no one stays long enough in any one place to make friends with anyone but other officers. This often seems to result in people who can talk SA business but who are awkward in talking to outsiders on a casual basis.
My most recent experience is a case in point. I sat at a dinner table with 3 top officer couples who spent the entire hour talking about the health issues of other officers & never once engaged with me about anything. To their credit there were some excellent questions when I opened sessions to feedback. But almost every question was reflective of the collective frustration: "we're going 7 days a week & can't do 1 more thing.".
So if you & I do something together down the line, please know that I struggle to believe anyone is really listening & ready to change. As innovative as the SA seems to be in its larger world activities, it seems to be unchangable in its inter-organizational structure. This said by one the SA's most enthusiastic supporters«