God and our organizations

What is the characteristic of God’s work in human history? God has intervened to come alongside us, sinners who do not deserve His companionship, and works in us to make more of ourselves in His service than we could attain on our own. How should our organizations work in light of God’s work? Here are some principles I’ve thought of:

1) Organizations are only temporary, only God and people are eternal.
The besetting sin of organizations is to think that they are more important than the people in them, to think people only have value when they advance the organization’s goals.
But to say the organization only exists to benefit its members is also not good. Individuals need to give themselves to something larger than themselves, God is pleased when this happens.

2) Organizations please God when they call, encourage and facilitate people to invest their individual effort, time and identity in a larger purpose of God’s, outside their own individual lives. This echoes in a small way Jesus laying down His life and giving His life to live in us. We glorify God when we voluntarily lay down what is merely ours as individuals for a larger purpose.

3) When organizations force people to do certain things, that diminishes the glory of them voluntarily giving of themselves to the task. In the real world, force or compulsion must sometimes be used, it is not an unforgivable sin. But it should be used sparingly. To compel people to do a good thing may have a short term benefit, but to persuade them to voluntarily do the good thing is a greater benefit.

4) People who voluntarily take on a larger purpose will usually perform better than people who follow orders to take on a larger purpose. They will spontaneously and creatively adapt ways to fulfill that purpose in their circumstances.

5) When an individual expresses his fallibility and weakness before God, he is likely telling the truth, and this is a sign of strength. The same is true of an organization. An organization can admit weakness in itself, and the leaders can admit weakness in themselves, while still being faithful to the vision. To gloss over failures and difficulties in the name of upholding the vision is actually to subtly betray the vision.

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