SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP IN TIMES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE – PART 2

“Don’t judge Religious Science by Religious Scientists.”

~ (the late) Rev. Dr. William Taliaferro

If you read Part 1 (LINK) of this series, and the two recent posts from Harvey Bishop’s Blog, entitled “Don’t Look Behind the Curtain,” (LINK to Part 1) (LINK to Part 2), you know that these series were initiated based on how some Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL) spiritual leaders have treated practitioners who were unwilling or unable to meet requirements set for them, usually about financial giving. If you have not already, you might want to catch up on those posts before you continue.

While Bishop has focused on the treatment of some practitioners using unskillful, even shaming leadership tactics, my focus as also included the aspect of good followership – the accountability of members of a spiritual community, particularly people in positions such as staff ministers or practitioners to both the leadership and the community as a whole. I see followership not in any diminished sense, but in the realization that every organization needs both leaders and followers who are as healthy and accountable as possible. In CSL, staff ministers and practitioners are actually in both roles, serving in followership to the spiritual leader(s) and in secondary leadership to the membership.

 

I have also focused in Part 1 of this series on issues that so many bring into their roles – psychological and/or emotional issues from earlier in life, issues which have not been resolved and which affect current thinking and behaviors. When we have unresolved issues, we are often incapable of being our best, particularly when we feel under pressure or in fear. This might show up as taking an unskillful approach when confronting a practitioner about being out of integrity with some agreement (financial or otherwise). It might equally show up as feeling a burning sense of shame when reminded by the spiritual leader that one is out of integrity with an agreed upon expectation, even when that reminder is skillfully expressed in an appropriate manner.

Naturally, the higher the position of authority one has, the more accountable one is for one’s behaviors. But we are all accountable for our own behaviors, are we not? Now, I am in no way saying that the stories shared in Bishop’s blog are inaccurate. As described, they reflect a failure of appropriate leadership at a minimum. They seem to illustrate a lack of emotional intelligence, which almost always results in failed interpersonal communications.

 

But I wonder.

I wonder how many of those practitioners approached the spiritual leader(s) of their community and shared that they would be unable to meet the expected level of giving? Or did they leave it for someone else to discover? I wonder whether the spiritual leaders communicated the policy regarding giving to the practitioners AND had they created an atmosphere in which it felt safe for practitioners to let the leaders know if and when they were unable (or unwilling) to meet the expectations in the policy?

In my time as a spiritual leader, we usually had giving expectations which were both clear and flexible; and I had situations where practitioners or others on the leadership team did not meet the expectations. Some told me about it as it unfolded, others did not. While I can understand their embarrassment, I cannot approve of their lack of accountability in not approaching me for that conversation when I had encouraged them to do just that. Of course, their lack of accountability did not give me permission to be unskillful or to shame them – it also did not give me permission to ignore the problem.

Perhaps we are talking about two different things here (although they are often intertwined). One is how often those of us in spiritual leadership fail to be the best version of ourselves when we feel pressured (and how easy it can be for us to feel pressured); indeed, how many in spiritual leadership lack necessary temperament and competencies for their positions. The second thing is the too-frequent breakdown of an atmosphere of accountability and support among the leadership teams of our spiritual communities, usually due to failure to address issues proactively.

So-What-Am-I-Supposed-to-Do-HEADER

AND: what are WE supposed to do?

“Not responding is a response –

we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”

~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Deep-seated personal issues on which we have not done deep spiritual work are unlikely to be resolved until we engage with that work; this is true for both leaders and followers. However, there are some things that leaders can initiate to create an environment of trust, safety, and accountability.

  1. Have you explored the pros and cons of having required giving expectations? Why or why not? What are the costs and benefits, both financially and to the culture of the spiritual community? What does having such a policy say about prosperity consciousness (or lack thereof)? And if you have such a policy, how and when is it communicated? Is it written into bylaws or policy manuals? If not, why not?

  2. Leaders should promote the overall mental and spiritual health of the leadership team and the spiritual community. Have the conversation often: state expectations clearly (put them in writing where appropriate); speak about openness and accountability; create space for people to share what is bothering them – either in groups or one-on-one. Make it safe to have personal problems or concerns about policies. Do this with your board and your ministerial/practitioner teams regularly.

  3. Ask people how things are going and do so when there is the opportunity to respond truthfully – not during fellowship time or in other inappropriate situations.

  4. Leaders – show your own vulnerability from time to time. This is healthy. It can, however, become unhealthy if it becomes your default way of being. If you are a leader, you have the accountability to lead and to set an example of integrity and compassion. Finding the proper balance is a sign of emotional intelligence.

  5. Followers – you can best support your leaders by being honest and open with them. Being an accountable follower means that you are supportive, but not in lockstep with the leader(s). It does not mean always getting your way or never disagreeing, but it may mean supporting an approved policy with which you do not agree. If leaders are not open to hearing you, or if they are toxic (LINK), you must protect yourself; do not remain in an unhealthy situation – if you can’t influence it in a positive direction and it is toxic, your best option may be to leave.

  6. If there are ethical violations occurring, use the ethics process. Ethical standards and procedures for Centers for Spiritual Living are described in Section 7.1 & 7.2 of the Policies and Procedures Manual. It is advisable to review this before making a formal complaint if you are a minister or practitioner. If you are not, you probably do not have easy access to that document. The contact information for ethics complaints is below. I am sure that Unity has a similar set of policies and procedures.

Centers for Spiritual Living
Rev. Barbara Bue, Licensing and Credentialing Manager
Email: bbue@CSL.org Phone:  +1 (720) 279-1634
573 Park Point Drive Golden, CO 80401, USA

These are particularly challenging times for leaders of all kinds. We are facing tectonic shifts in cultural evolution and issues such as the worsening climate crisis, among many others. As Nora Bateson has written:

“Whatever leadership used to be — it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were. The kind of leadership that I want to explore may not be identifiable as leadership at all.  I am interested in a kind of mutually alert care and attention to the well-being of all people and ecological systems. This kind of leadership cannot be found in individuals, but rather between them. It cannot be found in organizations, nations, religions or institutions, but rather between them. I have called it Liminal Leadership to highlight the relational characteristics.”

~ Nora Bateson

 

I think it is obvious that leaders facing these kinds of transformational challenges which affect the very nature of leadership itself must improve their ability to have positive interpersonal relationships with everyone, especially those in their inner circles. New Thought Organizations can only do so much for spiritual leaders in this regard – perhaps better psychological testing at entry level and better support for those in service, but spiritual leaders have to be open to such interventions, and that has too often not been the case. Additionally, no one wants a heavy-handed organization intervening too often. Most issues are best resolved at the local community level – and taking personal accountability is a significant and necessary first step.

The organizations do need to improve their ability and knowledge to develop and support healthy and competent spiritual leaders – focusing on emotional and spiritual intelligence as understood today would be a good start. Many issues within a spiritual community do not rise to the level of ethics violations but are extremely destructive. Blaming the larger organization usually misses the point – accountability lies with each of us to be in the highest and best integrity in our roles, regardless of the behaviors of others.

There may be more to come on this topic but let me close this post with a quote from a distinguished citizen of my new hometown, Lyon, France. I think that Ernest Holmes would agree.

“You must begin by assuming responsibility. And you alone are responsible for every moment of your life, for every one of your acts.”

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As always, your comments are welcomed!

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

 

SPIRAL AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT WHEN ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – PART 3

“If one were to crystallize twentieth-century psychology into a single problem, it would be the problem of fear in the face of overwhelming evolutionary forces in humanity as a whole. At the end of the century we thought we were past that problem. We are now in the thick of it.”

~ John Campbell on Twitter

In Part 1 (LINK) and Part 2 (LINK) of this series, I have laid out some of the issues to be considered when planning and implementing programs designed to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in spiritual communities and other organizations. Using the Spiral Dynamics™ Model, one can see how different evolutionary values systems (vMEMEs) give meaning to terms such as “diversity,” “inclusion,” “racism,” and “white privilege.” Thee is also the issue of complexity of thinking at the different values systems. When we fail to see the presence of these values systems, we either make them wrong, present issues in highly complex ways, or ignore them entirely. This lack of “spiral awareness” means that many well-intentioned programs fail to be compassionate and to achieve the desired results.

VMEMEs Simplified

The Values Systems (vMEMEs) of the Spiral Dynamics Model

It can be quite challenging from any point on the spiral to convey your values in such a way as they are understood by those centered at different levels. And, the “circular argument” (if you disagree with me/us it proves my/our point) is a sign that absolutism has entered the picture, which is unlikely to result in understanding or collaboration. While the concept of white privilege or straight while male privilege makes perfect sense to someone centered at the Green level of existence, it is very likely given a different meaning at other levels on the spiral. The result is that you think you are communicating one thing, but something else is being heard.

“Drawing a ‘privileged’ individual’s attention to the discrimination issue might be valuable (more awareness is better) but pushing them into the ‘perpetrator’ role (which personalized discussions of privilege do) rather than directly asking them to step up to help those disadvantaged is more likely to backfire and polarize potential allies than it is to solve the problem.”

~ Kylie Stedman 

What is needed to ensure the highest level of success in programs intending to encourage greater diversity and inclusion, or to raise awareness of racism and sexism, include the following:

  1. Spiral Awareness – a recognition that different values systems exist so meaning making is not uniform.
  2. A focus on desired behaviors – rather than on labels which will be interpreted differently. For example: saying that “white privilege” is a given, for example, will not be received well by white people* who are not centered at the Green level of existence. Since they are the target audience for the program, alienating them means less likelihood of a successful program.
  3. Sharing stories – have representatives of all groups in the community share their stories, which may be of oppression or the ignorance of oppression. There is nothing more powerful than hearing from people you know and can relate to.
  4. Cast a Vision – programs including a sense of vision for what is possible are very powerful. This process can be participatory as well, thus growing a vision which is shared by as many participants as possible.
  5. Provide counseling – some people are going to need assistance to process strong feelings which will arise during programs such as this. Consideration should be given to how to best provide counseling to those who need it.
  6. Understand: Not Everyone Will Get It – it is important to realize that a person may be open, arrested, or closed at any level on the spiral. Some will not be willing to expand their sense of reality to include the values being presented. This is to be expected.

Poster - Change is Good - You Go First

Cultural change requires time plus a deep understanding of the values systems present. It also requires an understanding of change itself; change is usually gradual with occasional leaps forward or setbacks, and often uneven. There needs to be proper support through the change process, especially for those with natural aversions to change (LINK) and for those for whom a particular change does not seem like a good idea.

Leadership has to be onboard with the change and has to model the desired behaviors in ways that everyone can see. Everyone’s value system must be acknowledged and approached in appropriate ways. This requires a lot from leaders and program managers, but the alternative is another program with little to no impact.

“An elemental law of psychology confirms that what is not faced in the developmental tasks of the parent will be visited upon the child. So it is true that what is not faced by corporate or collective leadership will be carried as a problem by the employees or members.”

~ James Hollis

Beautiful Beginnings

As always, your comments are appreciated in the section below. Please consider following this blog if you are not already doing so (Click on the FOLLOW button), and feel free to share with your friends.

*People of Color centered in other values systems may understand white privilege differently than white people, however, they will still see it differently at each values system on the spiral.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

NOTE: I will soon be offering a two-part program in Spiral Dynamics™ for New Thought. Part one will be an introduction to the model; Part two, which is optional, will provide certification to teach and coach using Spiral Dynamics. More information soon.

 

Hope & Horror, Parts & Wholes.

I am re-blogging this post from Nora Bateson’s blog because I think it speaks to not only a major crisis of our time, but also to the complexity that I have been blogging about since the inception of my own blog. Nora’s amazing view points which allow us to be more clearly understand the interrelationships of all aspects of our universe, or critically important for those of us In New Thought to digest, and to incorporate into our own world views. We who teach Oneness must come to see your world as an expression of that worthles must come to see our world as an expression of that Oneness, not just as an idea, but as the basis of our construction of reality. The blog post take you to a link which contains a chapter from Nora’s book, SMALL ARCS OF LARGER CIRCLES. It is worth your time to read it. I look forward to your comments.

norabateson

This is a chapter from my book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles. It is a story of my discovery and confusion around the emergence of a widespread global grouping of people concerned for the survival of “indigenous Europeans” — white people. It is important to note that a peephole into this parallel world began for me in 2013 (maybe 2012?), and by then as an internet phenomenon of community it was already in full swing. This white supremacy question is not about the USA, it is not about Trump, it has nothing to do with Making America Great Again (MAGA), this situation runs much much deeper. In my considerations of how and where to take action, I am finding that an oversimplified, or decontextualized view of these social divisions only helps to fuel the fire. I am not suggesting that I have the deeper view necessary, only that I am…

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CONSENSUS AND THE EVOLUTION OF PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS, PART 3

(NOTE: Since writing the last installment of this series (just over a week ago – but it seems longer), my wife and I have arrived in Lyon, France, where we plan to make our home. We have been in transit and in three (so far) temporary lodgings as we begin the process of seeking a long-term rental here. We have also begun to study French in an intensive setting, and last Thursday was my 66th birthday. I point this out to illuminate the undeniable truth that whatever I would have written right after Part 2 was published is not what I will be writing now. Living our lives has a powerful effect on our creative direction. Again, my immense gratitude to those of you who take the time from your lives to read this blog and, perchance, my books. Your participation in seeking to know how to wisely steward our New Thought movement through increasingly complex times means very much to me.)

 

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process…”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

In writing about what 2nd Tier decision-making practices may look like for organizations and spiritual communities, I draw primarily from my own experience and these sources:

  • The body of work that constitutes Spiral Dynamics™& Spiral Dynamics Integral™ via Clare Graves, Don E. Beck, Christopher Cowan, and others; this includes the members of the Beck-Graves Original Spiral Dynamics Community on Facebook. As faithful readers will know, it is my go-to model for understanding human and organizational cultural evolutionary dynamics.
  • The work of Frederic Laloux, particularly his book, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS (LINK), and the expanding work of the growing community of those who seek to understand it and expand upon it (LINK TO VIDEO).

As noted in Parts 1 & 2 of the series (LINK) (LINK), the use of consensus (LINK) as a decision-making process is a choice based on the cultural evolutionary development of the individual(s) or community present. As I noted in Part 2:

It is important that we realize the evolutionary nature of human cultural development as we explore how we make decisions in groups. Those centered at the various levels on the spiral will naturally gravitate toward decision-making processes which reflect the values systems of their own level. And, they will tend to reject the decision-making processes which reflect the values systems of other levels. So, for someone centered at Blue or Orange, consensus will seem less than ideal. And for someone at 2nd Tier, Yellow or Turquoise, it will seem like an immature process.

Sign - Complexity

Consensus as a decision-making process is a choice which is likely to emerge when the Green vMEME is predominant. When we are not aware of the dynamics of the spiral, we will not notice this as an emergence, rather, we will see it as a new discovery of something with which we resonate. Consensus is to Green what majority rule is to Orange. But what decision-making process(es) does 2nd Tier – Yellow and beyond – bring? Before we can explore that, I need to share some ways in which 2nd Tier organizations operate.

From Laloux, and his research, we learn that 2nd Tier is a vastly different way of being than 1st Tier organizational design and operations. What he found was that 2nd Tier organizations:

  • function without the fear-based structures from the Blue/Orange For example, in the organizations that Laloux studied, there were no (or minimal) centralized functions (think accounting, IT, planning, budgeting); such functions, if used at all, are handled at the level of self-organizing teams who hire & fire, set compensation, negotiate contracts, pay vendors, etc.
  • essentially do away with layers of management. These organizations have a CEO-equivalent, sometimes a board-equivalent, and the self-organizing teams. There may be a very few people who work with teams to ensure things like licensing requirements are met (adherence to Blue/Orange requirements), but that is all.
  • use the Advice Concept (LINK). Essentially, any decision can be made by anyone in the organization (you may want to sit with that one a minute – I know I had to). What is required is that the person who intends to make a decision advise everyone who will be affected by the decision before hand (where possible), giving them a chance to respond and give advice. Once the responses are in, the person still has authority to make the decision. The role of the CEO/leader is primarily to communicate the vision, deal with outside entities (like vendors who are used to dealing with centralized purchasing departments), and provide other forms of support to the teams.
  • Group decisions at the team level may be made by consensus, but are more likely to be made by individuals who have taken temporary leadership status with regard to specific tasks or issues.

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

Now you see why I used the metaphor of the caterpillar transforming into the butterfly in Part 1 of this series. 2nd Tier, as described by Clare Graves, Ken Wilber, Frederic Laloux (note that Wilber & Laloux use the term TEAL) and others, represents a transformational change in how people and organizations operate. The Spiral Dynamics Model tells us that this transformational change represents a “momentous leap” in human consciousness. It also tells us that once that leap is made, the operational activities that represent 2nd Tier, including decision-making processes, will emerge naturally. Laloux notes that in every organization he studied, the Advice Process was present in some form, even though the organizations had not been in communication with one another. That would be a clear indication of the emergent nature of our development.

ELP Butterfly

Using the consensus method of decision-making is a natural and appropriate emergent development when a group is at the Green vMEME. It will be uncomfortable for those at other levels on the spiral, and they will probably resist it to some degree.

“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” 

~ Peter F. Drucker

When members of a leadership team move to 2nd Tier-Yellow as the predominant vMEME, we can expect that consensus would be set aside or minimized at some point, and something akin to the Advice Concept would emerge, just as consensus emerged to replace or supplement majority rule after Green emerged.

As always, unless there is an awareness of the nature of cultural evolution and the spiral, all of this will be seen as simply discovering a new method, rather than as an evolutionary emergence of a new level of development.

Those who don’t feel this Love
pulling them like a river
those who don’t drink dawn
like a cup of spring water
or take sunset like supper
those who don’t want to change
let them sleep…

~ Rumi

In Part 4 of the series, we will explore whether New Thought is 2nd Tier.

Your comments are always welcomed – please consider following this blog and you will get an email when a new post is published, and get to see it first.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get my book
CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:
A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At
in paperback or Kindle editions
(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)
(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)
(LINK TO AMAZON.CO.UK)
And at DEVORSS.COM

CONSENSUS AND THE EVOLUTION OF PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS, PART 2

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

In Part 1 (LINK) of this series, I pointed out how consensus decision-making is the result of an evolutionary dynamic – one which emerges with the movement on the spiral into the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence.

Consensus as the primary, or sole, formal method of decision-making at the spiritual community or organizational level works very well, if not perfectly, when all of those involved in the decision-making process are centered at Green. It is less successful when participants are centered lower or higher on the spiral. (Remember that lower or higher is not better nor worse, simply a reflection of the level of complexity of thought at which someone is operating currently). There is a tendency for those who are not aware of the dynamics of cultural evolution to simply think that they have discovered something new, such as consensus, and seek to entice others or impose the new thing on them. This can lead to negative consequences. An understanding of cultural evolution will help one realize that we are all evolving differently and unevenly; and that there are vMEME-driven implications in our emerging values systems.

VMEMEs Simplified

 

Let’s look at some pros and cons of consensus decision-making, then follow with some additional exploration of developmental and evolutionary factors.

PROS OF CONSENSUS (some from this LINK)

  • A way to ensure that every voice is heard
  • A way to make decisions without authoritarian energy
  • A safe space to voice concerns
  • A respectful hearing of all perspectives
  • A bias toward the non-rational – this can allow exploration of deeper meaning (Presencing – LINK).
  • A process by which a group mind emerges from individual input
  • A process aimed at achieving a greater good
  • A way to synthesize various ideas or perspectives into a uniquely new outcome
  • A way to forge greater emotional connection between members of a group or team

CONS OF CONSENSUS

  • Those operating at vMEMEs below Green will feel out of harmony with the processing and will believe they must comply or be a hindrance (they will project their own values system onto the process at hand). Those at Blue will want to know what happened to Robert’s Rules of Order and be uncomfortable with what is to them the free-flowing nature of the process.
  • Those operating at 2nd Tier may well become very frustrated with how long it takes to process decisions and by the tendency to succumb to manipulation by feelings (see below), and they may leave the group.
  • When unhealthy elements of Green are present, consensus can be obstructed or, at minimum, become very difficult. Examples of unhealthy Green include:
    • Open-ended relativism – every idea or concept or belief system has equal value – “Who am I to say what we should decide?
    • A bias toward the non-rationalGreen is where elements of Tribal-Purple re-emerge. This can result in budget income line-items such as “God Will Provide” when dealing with scarcity. This will be very difficult for someone centered at Blue, Orange, or Yellow to accept.
    • A strong bias toward inclusion can lead unhealthy Green to overlook whether candidates for positions have the necessary skills, experience, or ethical backgrounds.
    • Unhealthy Green can become authoritarian (re-emerging Blue). Remember, unhealthy Green can be in shadow and have a high tolerance for dysfunction.
  • A tendency to be manipulated. At Green, feelings are paramount. Everyone must feel that decisions are correct and in the best interest of all concerned. This can lead to two major issues:
    • Someone with a lack of emotional maturity can manipulate the group by expressing negative or hurt feelings about issues. A sociopath can effectively sabotage or even take over the group by manipulating emotions.
    • Getting everyone on the same page emotionally can take a long time. Seemingly endless processing can frustrate members and make it difficult to recruit new people into leadership due to the frustrations of some with the leadership culture – word spreads that being on the leadership team is no fun.

Cartoon - Agreement in Principle

It is important that we realize the evolutionary nature of human cultural development as we explore how we make decisions in groups. Those centered at the various levels on the spiral will naturally gravitate toward decision-making processes which reflect the values systems of their own level. And, they will tend to reject the decision-making processes which reflect the values systems of other levels. So, for someone centered at Blue or Orange, consensus will seem less than ideal. And for someone at 2nd Tier, Yellow or Turquoise, it will seem like an immature process. At the same time, someone centered at Green will see authoritarian or majority rule decision-making as undesirable as well.

Remember also that vMEMEs are fluid – we are always in an evolutionary flow, even if we are slow to change. Evolution is never static, always dynamic. The composition of vMEMEs present on any decision-making team will be in flux, as are other aspects of their developmental natures. Each will bring levels of psychological development, styles of being such as introvert or extrovert, orientations to change (LINK), and what is happening in their lives at the current moment to the decision-making process. That said, the vMEME levels occupied by those involved will have the greatest effect on what kind of decision-making process is most favored.

“While genes evolve slowly, the decision systems formed by vMEMES are always on the move. vMEMES can be so dominant they seem like archetypes and are easily misinterpreted as ‘types’ of people. When several are in harmony, vMEMES resonate like the notes in a musical chord. However, vMEMES in conflict lead to troubled individuals, dysfunctional families, corporate malaise, fractured churches, and civilizations in decline and fall. Since they are ‘alive,’ vMEMEs can ebb and flow, intensify and soften like a string of Christmas tree lights on a dimmer. Several different ones may line up in support of a specific issue, idea, or project because they share the values contents. At other times, people with essentially the same vMEME decision-making frameworks may disagree violently over details of beliefs and what is ‘the good,’ degenerating into holy and un-civil war.”

~ Don Edward Beck & Christopher Cowan, SPIRAL DYNAMICS

Consensus is a good fit when an organization and/or its leadership team is centered at the Green vMEME. That said, it does not guarantee that the consensus process will have positive results. That will depend on how healthy the team expresses at the Green level. It will also depend on how those centered at different levels on the spiral are welcomed within the leadership team and the larger spiritual community. Like all 1st Tier levels, Green is fear-based, and those at Green will tend to view those expressing the values systems of other levels as being wrong. When there is pushback, those at Green may close in together and keep others out of the decision-making process. These are all things that good spiritual leadership will be aware of, and work to minimize.

“Cultures are moving pictures, adoptive flow states, that can either downshift under fear or upshift with waves of confidence, access, education and appropriate structures.”

~ Don Edward Beck

Finally, it is important to realize that while consensus may be an ideal fit when those involved are at the Green level, the evolutionary process will continue, and there will come a time when expression at a higher level on the spiral will emerge. Any given spiritual community or organization may be centered at the Green Level for a few years or a decade or more. In Part 3 of this series, I will explore some of what we know about 2nd Tier decision-making.

“It’s a recognition that reality as we know it is being animated by an evolutionary current. This is true on the cosmological large-scale structure of the universe. It’s true biologically. But it’s true on a human level, too. The great mystery is living and wanting to transcend itself through us toward greater expressions of beauty, truth and goodness. And so evolutionary spirituality says that, for lack of a better word, God is implicate, intrinsic to that evolutionary push.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

 

United colors-38
Here is where you can get my book
CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:
A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At
in paperback or Kindle editions
(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)
(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)
(LINK TO AMAZON.CO.UK)
And at DEVORSS.COM

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

CONSENSUS AND THE EVOLUTION OF PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS, PART 1

“You must constantly transcend your present positions, indeed, even perhaps contradict them altogether.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Consensus (LINK) is a form of decision-making used in a number of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. This series of posts is designed to explore the evolutionary nature of consensus and its pros and cons.

I believe that people and organizations (which are people in groups) evolve by design. That is, they change over time in a developmental manner, moving through generally understood stages of growth. Individuals and organizations evolve physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They evolve toward greater complexity, an evolutionary process driven by the increasing complexity of the world around them. If they fail to adapt (evolve) to the external level of complexity (living conditions), they suffer to one degree or another, since they are unable to fully engage with the world in which they find themselves. If they get too far behind, their suffering is more serious.

Cartoon - Evolution - More Steps

In the individual, this evolutionary process involves many factors, as mentioned above – our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual natures are all evolving at different rates. It is important to understand concepts and models such as emotional intelligence (LINK), spiritual intelligence (LINK), Presencing (LINK), and Spiral Dynamics(LINK). We are at different places along the developmental measures of these various models and instruments; so, in effect, each of us has a different “evolutionary code”; we are unique in that way.

This, of course, makes groups and organizations even more complex mixtures of individuals and their developmental levels. I have explored a number of these factors in this blog over time, and in my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (LINK). Spiritual Leaders lacking an understanding of the dynamics involved will be at a loss to guide their communities forward through times of rapid external change. Decision making processes, the topic of this post, emerge like other elements of organizational behavior, as spiritual communities move on the spiral (see Spiral Dynamics LINK). We may think that we are having new ideas, but they are more a reflection of what is newly emerging within us as we adapt (or fail to) to increasing external complexity.

“Evolution has not shaped an all-knowing computer, but rather a modular computer for making different decisions based on different contexts.”

~ Jason Collins

Which brings me back to the Green Level of Existence, Values System, or vMEME (LINK) (LINK). Each level or vMEME on the spiral will have decision-making processes which align with the vMEME values of that level. For example, at Traditionalist-Blue, something resembling a monarchy with a form of bureaucracy is a likely decision model; at Modernist-Orange, we get democratic forms – people vote, and we get autocratic leadership in many settings.

Green vMEME

At Postmodernist-Green, where values include egalitarianism, relativism (one belief is no better nor worse than another), every voice must be heard, a bias against hierarchy, and a high regard for feelings, consensus is often the decision-making process that is favored. Before I go into the pros and cons of consensus decision-making in Part 2 of this series, I need to point something out. Those centered at Green strive to be non-judgmental and they seek intimacy in groups and spiritual community. This arises due to the immense complexity of thought at the Green level. It creates a broader and deeper view of possibility, and widens the field of choice, but at a cost. I’ll let philosopher Ken Wilber point out an issue with Green’s tendency toward no judgements:

“It’s the calamity you’ve discussed, the calamity of our generation, that we’ve come to think that you’re morally good if you don’t make judgments. But that’s exactly wrong. You’re morally good if you make the right kind of judgments. And you have to learn how to make wise judgments in order to make moral decisions. But what we do, because we understandably don’t want to marginalize anyone or unfairly judge, is to say, therefore, don’t judge at all. And so we stand back with no moral compass, no judgments, no discriminating wisdom, and basically the whole show goes to hell because of that. So in the midst of saying that nothing is better or worse than anything else, even on a relative plane, if you then have an experience of satori or kensho or oneness, it reinforces your broken moral compass. And this broken moral compass, combined with your realization, is what you call spirituality.”

~ Ken Wilbur

When it comes to making decisions, holding people accountable, and dealing with conflict, spiritual leaders who are centered at Green often find themselves unable to act clearly and forcefully. Green tends to have a high tolerance for dysfunction due, in part, to the value of not upsetting people. Green-centered leadership will often let disruptive behavior go on for some time without speaking up about it, as being non-judgmental becomes more important than accountability. This creates real problems for the spiritual community, who must operate in a sub-optimal atmosphere. Also, the fact that Green is the level where spiritual communities are often moving toward a possible transition to 2nd Tier (LINK), the absence of strong leadership can be devastating.

In Part 2, I will look at the pros and cons of decision-making by consensus, and why that form of decision-making works only at the Green Level of Existence.

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Photo Jul 04, 1 26 08 PM.jpg

My view this week in Connemara, Ireland

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CO.UK)

And at DEVORSS.COM

GETTING CULTURE RIGHT IN A SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY

Navigating a culture

towards conscious impulsion

with unshakeable vision

while at the same time

honoring its sacred heritage

is not for the faint of heart.

~ Unknown

 new-thought-logos

Organizational culture is defined as: The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization (LINK). In New Thought, we have two levels of organizational culture – the denominational organization (such as CSL, Unity) and the local spiritual community. The focus of this post will be the local community – I will address the larger organizational level in another post.

The culture of a spiritual community is the environment, the energetics, the Presencing (LINK) that exist as a felt reality for those who are a part of the community and for those who encounter the community and its members. It includes any sense of vision, mission, purpose, and passion that the community espouses – or the lack of any of these things. It includes the leadership Presence, style, and expectations. It includes the values & behaviors of members in support of the highest vision (if one is articulated) or in opposition or indifference to that vision. It includes the overall sense of well-being, or lack thereof, at any given time in a spiritual community.

“As within, so without. As above, so below.”

~ Ancient Hermetic Philosophy

Far too often, the culture of the spiritual community is not consciously considered; it simply happens. The role of spiritual leadership in the creation and maintenance of the culture cannot be overstated. It is a critical aspect of spiritual leadership. Culture is fluid by nature, it ebbs and flows, it evolves, and it is a constant presence that everyone feels and experiences. If not properly attended to, it can devolve quickly into negative behaviors, confusion about values and vision, inconsistency of message, fear, and indifference.

“The one constant, the North Star of every vital community is its commitment to nurturing a culture of love. This reverent commitment uplifts our relationships to one another and to the world at large. Without it, our collective experience is embittered rather than empowered.”

~ Dr. David Ault

What is the culture of your spiritual community? Can you define it? Can you articulate the vision and mission, whether you are a spiritual leader or a regularly attending member? Can you describe the values of your community based on how people behave toward one another – toward leadership – toward the teaching?

Poster - Culture Quote - Nehru

In a more secular, but still applicable, context, Seth Godin speaks of organizational culture this way in his blog (LINK):

Four ways to improve customer service

  1. Delegate it to your customers. Let them give feedback, good and bad, early and often.

  2. Delegate it to your managers. Build in close monitoring, training and feedback. Have them walk the floor, co-creating with their teams.

  3. Use technology. Monitor digital footprints, sales per square foot, visible customer actions.

  4. Create a culture where peers inspire peers, in which each employee acts like a leader, pushing the culture forward. People like us do things like this. People like us, care.

You’ve probably guessed that the most valuable one, the fourth, is also far and away the most difficult to create. Culture is a posture that lasts. It’s corroded by shortcuts and by inattention, and fed by constant investment and care.

Big company or small, it doesn’t matter. There are government agencies and tiny non-profits that have a culture of care and service. And then there are the rest…

How do we ensure that the culture we ARE living in our spiritual communities is the same as the culture WE SAY that we are living? This is primarily the role of spiritual leadership. The culture must be presented over and over again – spoken about at gatherings (every gathering is an opportunity to express the culture to those present); taught in classes; expressed at special events; mentioned in conversations; modeled in behavior, etc. It is best presented in an evolutionary context, recognizing the ongoing development of the spiritual community and its members. So evolutionary leadership is called for here.

When you consider what kind of events your spiritual community is going to host, do you think about things like “does this represent our culture well?” or “how can we use this to express our culture clearly?” Do you include cultural identity and its expression in your planning? Do your planning teams know what that is and how to do it? I hope so. Would someone from outside your spiritual community get a good sense of your culture by attending any event that you present?

“As I see it, there are two main reasons to be in spiritual community. One is to develop a culture of love and support for people living their daily lives based on spiritual understanding; the other is to introduce them to the mystical path.”

~ Jim Lockard, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY

Poster - Included Inspired Involved

You can think of your organizational culture as the environment that is created by those present. Every spiritual community has a culture. That culture is best cultivated and expressed in a conscious manner. Over time, it becomes more and more automatic, but still it must be expressed. It is much more than reading the mission and vision statements out loud. We don’t hit people over the head with our culture – we speak of it internally and express it through our behaviors and statements to the larger world. We tend it like a gardencultivating the flowers and removing the weeds.

Beautiful Tree in Lake

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 4

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.”

~ Rollo May

ELP Butterfly

In Parts 1 through 3 of this series (LINK), I have suggested an idea about the nature of the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence from the Spiral Dynamics™ Model. Namely, that the Green Level is where organizations go to die – in the sense that the caterpillar enters the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar, but to emerge as the butterfly.

Green nature has many facets, and it also provides a “launching pad” into 2nd Tier Levels of Existence. 2nd Tier is starkly different from 1st Tier. The preparation for what Clare Graves (LINK) called the ”momentous leap” from the Green Level to the Yellow Level is nothing if not significant, requiring a massive change in consciousness.

“To move beyond the Green memetic mindset and consciousness requires that you start to really and honestly understand, appreciate, and respect your own and other people’s incomparable cosmic singularity. So long as you compare yourself with others (equality is a term of comparison) you will remain in the mode of deficiency. When you realize your and other people’s incomparability, you enter the existential mode of abundance and start to live in the world of abundance and plenitude.”

~ Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, President & CEO, Vision-In-Action, LLC

2nd Tier consciousness is not fear-based. That is a huge distinction, as most of our energies when we occupy 1st Tier levels go into self-protection, ego defenses, and creating the structures which provide these. As we move to 2nd Tier, this changes, moving into an empowered, love-based ego structure. There is currently no well-defined pathway into 2nd Tier, but this transition clearly requires significant changes in one’s self-image.

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift.”

~ Richard Rohr

Sign - Self Knowledge

When an organization or spiritual community emerges into the Green Level of Existence, one of four outcomes is possible:

  1. A long period occupying Green due to either unhealthy expression, a lack of 2nd Tier Living Conditions being present, or a lack of 2nd Tier development by the spiritual leadership. This is a good thing when there is movement toward a healthy expression of Green.
  2. A transition to 2nd Tier occurs over time – this requires a healthy Green foundation to be successful.
  3. A regression to Orange due to unhealthy Green or a change to Orange-centered leadership.
  4. The organization or spiritual community ceases to exist.

Major challenges for spiritual leadership within organizations or spiritual communities that are entering or centered in the Green Level of Existence are twofold: (1) to guide them toward a healthy expression of Green and (2) to shepherd them through the transition to 2nd Tier when that is appropriate. And, if it is time for a spiritual community to cease to be, wise leadership will hospice that process.

While arrival at the Green Level may not have occurred for many spiritual communities, it is on their agenda. As Living Conditions (the cultural world around us) grow more complex, humans are called to adapt to that complexity by moving their Level of Existence farther up the spiral. Here are my suggestions for spiritual leadership who are recognizing these dynamics:

  1. Grow your knowledge about cultural evolution. Models such as Spiral Dynamics (LINK), Theory U (LINK), and Edgewalkers (LINK) are important tools in this regard. Get a coach/mentor to work with you – this is not a solo journey.
  2. Seek to expand your capacity to be creative and bold. Evolutionary leadership skills are essential to determining who will thrive in the future. Success will come to those who are willing to make decisions that require deep knowledge and the willingness to risk being judged (LINK). Remember that significant transformation is on our agenda. How will we respond to that challenge? We are not planning for catastrophe, we are setting the stage to thrive in the chaos.
  3. Grow the knowledge of your community leadership team as well – ensure that you are developing evolutionary leadership capacities in your spiritual community.
  4. Speak about evolutionary growth – personal and communal – when you address your community members. Your future leadership team is in the audience every time you speak.
  5. Remember that, for the most part, people with different value systems are not corrupt or lacking understanding – they are operating from the values system of their Level(s) of Existence. When spiritual leaders are aware of this, they can expand their field of compassion to include those with different values than their own (whether higher or lower on the spiral!). The key is to encourage healthy expressions from each of the levels present.
  6. It is critical that spiritual leaders understand and model the healthy aspects of each Level of Existence present in the community. To do this, develop an awareness of the spiral, and do the deep personal work to develop greater capacities for compassion.
  7. Those centered at the Green Level will advocate for processes like governing by consensus and shared leadership. It takes wise leaders to recognize that consensus is only viable when everyone is operating from the Green Level.

Those centered at Blue and Orange value authoritarian leaders and majority rule. When consensus is imposed, they will find it very difficult to respond authentically – they will feel coerced. Shared leadership feels good to those at Green, however, it often results in a lack of clear accountability, which is a significant liability for any organization with Blue/Orange structures and proceduresGreen will tend to insist that everyone else be as “evolved” as they are, and have little patience with those who currently occupy the same places on the spiral that those now at Green occupied a short time ago. The tendency of those centered at Green to insist that no one feel discomfort or use abrasive speech can also be an obstacle to progressive growth.

“We live in a bourgeois cocoon of niceness and anything that breaks out of that is very threatening and disruptive to people. We have to work towards having honest speech with each other. When we have honest speech, we have to speak out about the things that are unjust and unfair. We need a more honest and abrasive speech to bring our talk into connection with our social reality. Any intent to curb that kind of speech is a desire to not have reality pointed out to us. But if we don’t have reality pointed out to us nothing will ever change.”

~ Walter Brueggemann

  1. At 2nd Tier, leadership moves away from both authoritarian leadership and shared leadership. In most organizations operating at 2nd Tier levels, anyone can make any decision at any time! (LINK) Imagine leading such an organization. Can you see now why the “leap” to 2nd Tier is so momentous?

What is required of spiritual leadership in these times is a deeper step into our own authenticity. If something new and different is required of us in these times of accelerated change, that something is already within us, awaiting our permission for it to emerge. The process is not one of becoming different, but of becoming more of who we already are. Finding our inner genius, our inner lover of life, and bringing them forward is our calling. We in New Thought have the tools to do so.

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

spiral_staircase_photography

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 3

“We have yet to see what the multiplied consciousness of a church body can do, if they are properly trained, if they permit someone to exercise an authority over them.”

~ Ernest Holmes

This quote from Ernest Holmes speaks from the Tradionalist-Blue value system. Although the focus of The Science of Mind philosophy arises primarily from the Modernist-Orange values system, Holmes and others recognized the importance of traditional values in organizational matters. As the Postmodernist-Green values system emerged and evolved in New Thought, some of the traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange values were left behind. Some of this was positive (letting go of overly authoritarian leadership; being less driven by numbers and $$$) and some was negative (seeing all forms of authority as negative; being overly feelings-oriented).

Green values include wanting everyone to feel good about themselves all the time, so rigor in instruction or testing/evaluation is not highly valued. In fact, it is often rejected. This has evolved away from rigorous teaching spiritual principles to more informal classes where standards are relaxed (everyone passes), and ideas outside of New Thought principles are often given equal value. This has led to a greater disparity in the degree to which students of New Thought teachings understand and can apply their basic principles.

Additionally, local spiritual leaders pay less attention to centralized curricula and teach what they want to teach (which would be a reflection of both Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green values). I am not talking only about adding to the existing curricula, but changing it significantly. As I will focus on in Part 4 of this series, there is little remaining authority in the leadership of New Thought organizations to hold individual spiritual leaders and communities accountable.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

We do have our sacred cows. And, like many other things, they have evolved over time.

The evolutionary movement of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities from its historic center of gravity as an inward-focused spirituality toward a more outward-focused engaged spirituality is happening before our eyes.

On the spiral (LINK), we can see the historic focus on teaching spiritual principles as the “prime directive” of New Thought spiritual communities arises from the Traditionalist-Blue values system. The focus on engaged spirituality emerges from the Postmodern-Green values system. Both are valid from a values systems perspective. One evolutionary issue that has emerged is that the Postmodernist-Green level has not properly valued the Traditionalist-Blue value of rigorous teaching of spiritual principles.

Spiral Dynamics Chart 2

The failure of newly emerging levels of the spiral to incorporate the healthy aspects of earlier levels is a common problem. We see it in the larger culture when Modernist-Orange emerges and the traditional ethical practices of Traditionalist-Blue are not carried forward – we get scandals, Enron and the Recession of 2008 to name just two.

While Religious Science began with a strong Orange component of spiritual individualism, it adopted the traditional Christian Church Model and held to the Blue value of rigorous teaching of the basic principles in a uniform way from spiritual community to spiritual community. The evaluation and credentialing processes were also fairly rigorous throughout the 20th Century.

This began to change in the late 1990’s as the Postmodernist-Green level began to have a greater influence in the movement. The rigor of the past seemed harsh, as those who “failed” to become practitioners or ministers felt badly, as did those who had to “pass judgement” on them. The idea of holding students to rigorous levels of performance in classes also began to change, and a period of just about everyone passing just about everything, from basic classes to the awarding of doctorates began, and continues to this day. This is the Postmodernist-Green level expressing.

“Every transformation demands as its precondition ‘the ending of a world’ – the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols

In the previous installment of this series (Part 2 – LINK), I wrote about the need for a both/and plan for the emergence of more engaged spirituality in New Thought. By this, I meant that for engaged spirituality to be truly effective, it must be carried out by spiritually realized people – people who have thoroughly learned the basic principles of the teaching and who continue to learn to apply those principles throughout their lives (lifelong learning). Engaged spirituality requires some rigor in preparing people to enter highly contentious situations. I am not sure that we can say that we have that kind of rigor in many of our New Thought spiritual communities today.

“We will not refuse to help the helpless or lift up the fallen, but we will refuse to wallow in the mud because of our sympathies.”

~ Ernest Holmes 

Postmodernist-Green is higher on the spiral than Traditionalist-Blue or Modernist-Orange. To be successful, higher levels must include some of the healthy aspects of the lower levels. So, Green needs to include a value for some traditional values, such as holding people accountable to developing a high degree of mastery of basic spiritual principles. This is especially true where credentialing is involved – in Centers for Spiritual Living at the practitioner and ministerial levels. When such accountability is absent, standards are lowered and the organization suffers at every level. Spiritual leaders must be willing to stand firm on this issue – both with themselves and with their students, or truly empowered engaged spirituality will not occur.

In Part 4 of this series, I will explore the role of Spiritual Organizations in this unfolding of engaged spirituality.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

cover

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

IT’S 2017 – TIME TO UP YOUR GAME

“Grassroots spirituality involves a vaguely panentheistic ultimate that is indwelling, sometimes bodily, as the deepest self and accessed through not-strictly-rational means of self-transformation and group process that becomes the holistic organization for all of life”

~ Robert K. Forman

There are many who say that the founders of the New Thought Movement left us lessons to deal with any eventuality. While there is a huge treasure trove of wisdom in the writings and teachings of the Fillmores, Ernest Holmes, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins, the Brooks sisters, and many others, it is no longer sufficient as a knowledge base in the 21st Century.

I’ll give you a minute to process that statement.

meme-waiting

Okay, regardless of your reaction/response to the statement, here is why I make it: human knowledge and experience has expanded greatly since the bulk of New Thought literature was published in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century. We now know much more about human psychology than the founders did; we know more about science, especially neuroscience, as well. And, perhaps most importantly, our culture has shifted. The concept of evolution has been expanded beyond the field of biology to many other areas of cultural development. We even talk today of cultural evolution in several fields of study.

Ernest Holmes himself alluded to this idea late in his life:

“The moment you step out of the ordinary ranks, the moment you step out of the procession that moves endlessly down the aisle, you are in the spotlight of evolution. Your own choice has decided you, and you are no longer going to think as others. You are no longer going to lay your greatness at the feet of a person whom you recognize to be great. The moment a person steps out of the endless stream of humanity, he no longer goes by the norm that was set by the mass mind. He is a leader, he is a thinker. He is one who introduces new things to the world.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Beverly Hills Lectures

Dr. Holmes had a limited understanding of evolution, one consistent with the understanding of that dynamic during his lifetime. But evolutionary understanding has expanded greatly in the nearly 60 years since his death. But still, we have problems with it. One reason, the way we are culturally conditioned to see new things and ideas.

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

~ Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

We all tend to want to see the world as we knew it yesterday. Even though we may be excited about new developments and technologies, we will tend to view them through our old mindsets.

“Evolution is in part a self-transcending process.” ~ Ken Wilber

sign-start-something-new

The increasing pace of change in our world is calling forth in us new ways of being and of seeing. We must consciously work to transcend our old, and even our current, ways of thinking and being, to encourage the new to emerge within us. There is no longer time to let this unfolding occur in a leisurely fashion; the world around us is speeding up too fast to allow that to work. In fact, we have seen a huge rejection of evolutionary thought in the recent elections in the U.S. and Great Britain. People want to return to an idealized concept of the past because they have not adapted to the emerging future. The problem with that view is this: the emerging future does not care about our comfort, it will continue to emerge and we must adapt. The irony is that this speeding up is our own doing; the planet itself is not getting more complex – human society is.

But the future will not wait for those who have not adapted to catch up; and attempts to take regressive actions by our nations will surely inhibit our ability to thrive in this rapidly changing, globally connected world in which we find ourselves. Those capable of evolutionary thought will need to step up and engage in society in the coming years.

Our wonderful heritage of New Thought wisdom must grow and, yes, even change to accommodate the increasing knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. The teachings of the founders must be supplemented by more up-to-date and comprehensive knowledge from the fields that I have mentioned above, and from other emerging fields of awareness. In short, we need to become leading-edge evolutionary thinkers in a modern context. We must do this both as individuals and in spiritual community.

If we pay attention, we can see that New Thought entered a time of stagnation some decades ago. We stopped developing the teachings beyond the expansion that occurred within the founders’ lifetimes – and we stopped being on the leading edge. It has taken half a century or more for that to really catch up with us in the form of so many struggling spiritual communities, but that is where we are. What used to work is no longer working – it is time to think and act differently. It is calling forth something new from us.

Will we heed that call?

 New Years - Past and Future

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

The next MINISTERIAL COACHING PROGRAM begins this month. It is open to all ministers and ministers-in-training. We have a maximum of 12 spaces and a few are already spoken for. Go to the website (LINK) for more information and to join our upcoming informational calls on January 13 and 17, 2017.