Every 500 years or so, civilization goes through a massive shift. I know it feels like every week these days, but hang in with me. For such a time as this we have been called!
Like tectonic plates moving beneath the earth’s surface, civilization encounters seismic shifts in ourunderstanding not only of our world, but also of our very selves. For many, the result is a state of exile thatis experienced on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level:
– Physical born of a deep sense of displacement from a known way of being;
– Emotional as increasing demands upon time and person result in exhaustion and utter depletion;
– Mental as creativity is lost under the burden of attempting to maintain unsustainable structures; and
– Spiritual as core identity is challenged by the seduction of an easy fix, a quick way out of our presentstate of displacement.
Exile involves both pain and loss. It calls us to a place of letting go of one way of being that we might liveforward into a future that is discontinuous with our past. Given this, we can understand the resistance toacknowledging, let alone entering into, exile. EXILE!
Yet exile can also be a gift. It can provide a liminal space in which to forge new ways of being that becomes a means of transformation and renewal. The role and call of community in such times is to seek the flourishing of people and planet. In the words of a Babylonian exile from the sixth century BCE: Seek theShalom (i.e., the flourishing) of the city to which you have been sent in exile, for in its Shalom will be yourShalom. Note: We are not the first to go through disruptive times. Indeed, they are the prerequisite for deep, adaptive change!
Seeking the Shalom… the flourishing of community is sadly not a responsibility that many leaders understandinherent to their work. Too often, we confuse the inputs and throughputs of our work with the outputs. Weget caught up in the heresy of the urgent, failing to live the questions that lead to new forms of engagement. Yet an increasing number of visionary leaders are exploring ways to produce a triple bottom line of people,planet and profit that is indeed resulting in the flourishing of both community and individual.
Shalom in this context can best be described as wholeness of body, mind, emotions, and spirit for not only theindividual, but for the community. The Shalom, of which our ancient voice speaks, is not merely an etherealstate of peace, but the economic realization of community-wide prosperity. Taken in this context, flourishingis a social, political and economic reality that seeks the welfare of the whole, not just a few. Our inter-dependence, be it on a local or global level, reflects the reality that individual wholeness is not possible apartfrom communal wholeness. The painful reality is that most leaders are not equipped to lead in the context ofexile. Such is the pace and demand upon leaders today that few are given opportunity to acknowledge thereality of exile, short of crisis.
Join me next week as we explore the implications of leading in exile.