I have previously written about physics and the church.
Recently, I have been reading Leadership Is An Art by Max De Pree.
It is one of those books that just seems to speak to my soul and as such I highly recommend it.
Max writes about a time he was asked, “What is one of the most difficult things you personally need to work on.”
Max answered, “The interception of entropy.”
Entropy is related to the second law of thermodynamics and speaking organizationally, it is the tendency of everything to eventually deteriorate.
Max provides a list of signs of entropy. What follows is based largely on that list with my modifications.
- a tendency toward superficiality
- a dark tension among key people
- no longer having time for celebration and ritual
- a growing feeling that rewards and goals are the same thing
- when people stop telling stories or cannot understand them
- a recurring effort by some to convince others that our work is simple (without ambiguity or complexity)
- when people begin having different understandings of words like “responsibility” or “service” or “trust” or “ministry” or “discipleship.”
- when problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers
- when folks confuse heroes, servant leaders, and celebrities
- leaders who seek to control rather than liberate
- when the pressure of day-to-day operations push aside our concern for vision and risk
- an orientation toward dry rules church organization rather than a value orientation that takes into account such things as contribution, spirit, excellence, beauty, joy, calling, and spiritual gifts.
- when people speak of members or guests as impositions on their time rather than an opportunity to serve
- a growing urge to quantify both history and one’s thoughts about the future. (I know, based on my experience and current research that next year we will grow 15% because last year we grew 11%)
- the urge to establish ratios
- leaders who rely on structures instead of people
- a loss of confidence in judgment, experience, and wisdom
- a loss of grace and style and civility
- a loss of respect for the words we use
As leaders, we should all be on the look out for these warning signs. It is incumbent upon the leadership to be wise stewards of our mission, our calling, the gifts of others, the pursuit of excellence in our church.