“I say there is really a spectrum in how we read the Bible that stretches from literal to literary. Everybody moves back and forth along that spectrum when they are reading the text. Literal focuses on facts and literary focuses on meaning. And my belief is that we should be a lot more focused on meaning, because if we are only reading for facts, somebody else is giving us meaning.”
The biblical narrative begins with the Hebrew scriptures that we call the Old Testament. We had varying degrees of getting it right, but were mostly unsuccessful in our attempts to follow that law. Two thousand or so years ago, God took the form of man, made a propitiation for all that “not getting it right” and cleaned the slate. God decided to show us what it looked like to live the life of God as a man.
Interestingly enough, this left us with more questions than answers. The Bible records Jesus asking 307 questions, but answering only 3.
What should we interpret that to mean?
Rather than giving us the right answers, he was more interested in us interpreting an answer ourselves.
As a recovering legalist, that is a terrifying thought. Coming from an early life of chaos up until college, I was looking for absolute and complete order in the Christian life. I even took that treatise on freedom and restoration and made it into a form of well-intentioned captivity. But Jesus leading the disciples looks like anything but that.
He vanishes and leaves his disciples staring into the sky. When they ask him obvious things like, when are you coming back? He sort of says, “None of your business.” He not only shows them that he isn’t interested in answering their questions, but getting them to wrestle with big questions and find their own. He also says things like:
- I've got stuff to tell you that you aren’t ready to hear.
- You’re going to do greater things than I did.
- I am giving you something better than me…a Spirit that lives in you to guide you.
That is all the antithesis of legalism and control. The complete opposite of micro-managing.
So, what does that have to do with leadership and coaching…sort of the two main topics of this thread?
In a word, everything.
Coaching is all about asking the right questions at the right time and letting the other person wrestle with the answer. It is about believing that the answer is typically inside of them, but so deeply hidden that they are unable to see it for themselves. That sometimes, even when they know the answer, they simply need the courage of their conviction (and some accountability) to follow through on the answer they find.
Doesn’t that describe every one of us?
The problem is, however, most of don’t have the humility or courage to allow someone else to ask us those questions and force us to respond. I have caused a lot of damage and experienced a lot of heartache by not allowing others to do that for me. But I am getting better at receiving what I am getting experienced at offering. I not only ask those questions, but welcome others to ask me the same.
And leading great self-sufficient teams is about grooming a team of the right kind of folks to wrestle with challenges, questions, and problems…to find their own solutions. To not stand around looking at the sky whenever you leave the office, awaiting your return, but wrestling with the questions they are facing and finding their own answers.
Jesus, as a beautiful leadership example, seemed less interested in literal interpretation and more interested in a literary understanding.
If the disciples were going to stand on their own...
If the work was going to extend beyond His life on earth...
They were going to have to stand on foundational truth, rely on the Spirit inside of them, and come up with some answers on their own.
- Would you say you are a more literal or literary in your approach to information?
- Is your leadership of parenting based on all absolutes, or are you bonding a safe territory in some truth that allows freedom of decision making from within?
- Does your team make good decisions without you? Do you children make good decisions when they are apart from you?
- What is keeping you from trusting others to do the right things?