[then] helps them design careers around their aptitude” (71).
If ever a quotation describes my journey this one is it. My highest text scores were in science and math. My aptitude tests suggested this was my best career direction, not the ministry, education, writing or teaching. The truth is I am a very restless person who cannot sit still for long at all. I also need to be around people a lot yet I crave being alone. For years this tension baffled me until science began to offer some explanations. But no battery of psychological tests has finally helped me at all. I work with great “bursts of energy” (writing, reading, thinking, speaking, etc.) and I create stuff as an art form without thinking about it a lot of the time. If I had mindlessly followed the advice of my counselors then I would have chosen a boring and vision-killing life and vocation. But God kept me in my teen and college years and then led me in the way that he did. I, for whatever reason, listened. Soli Deo Gloria.
A major help to me in this vision of Fritz came when he writes about negative vision being rooted in fear, guilt and pity. I believe this summarizes most of the leadership that I’ve seen in the church over the last forty-five years. Conflict manipulation seems to be the strategy used by most. The church, like other organizations, tries to scare you into obedience or, if this fails, shame you into conformity. Your support is enlisted for the cause and your life is filled with demands; Bible study, outreach, community, etc. Fritz concludes:
“The great irony is that each one of these . . . uses conflict manipulation, promotes a vision that is, in most cases, the opposite of what they really want to see created on the planet. One tragedy of our times is that well-meaning people often lend enormous amounts of energy to visions they really do not want to see happen” (101).
A major way that the modern church has tried to do this is through “the power of positive thinking” (105). We teach people to use “affirmations” that they can use on themselves. What is wrong with all of this? Fritz nails it and says, “In a word–truth” (109).
The creative process assesses the current state of the creation in progress and does not impose a positive or negative view on reality. Creating is not based on will-power or self-affirmations. It is independent of these processes and embraces what Fritz calls “structural tension” (113).
If you weaken the tensions you experience you will not be creative for it is out of such tensions that true creation comes. Think of this in terms of my vision for a uniting church. If I am “realistic” there is no way I can or should follow this vision. To be “practical” would force me to give up. But what matters, so very deeply to me, is unity in Christ’s mission. This vision pushes me to create new paradigms and contexts for this reality to take shape and to actually work. I have no precise idea how this will happen but I know deeply that what it is needs to happen. I do not see this all around me, but by faith I embrace it and move forward creating models and networks in the power of the Spirit. This is not psychology nor self-help. This is the reality of living by faith in a broken world where only God can bring such results about through those who trust him. I know what I want, and I believe God wants it, so I press on in my vision seeking to help others create new paradigms for unity in Christ’s mission. If I limit and censor my own vision I can kill creativity and faith. This is a great battle that I enter almost every single day.
The organizing principle of my work, as Fritz puts it, is my vision. Vision is at the heart of all genuine creation. In this kind of vision there are basic principles, principles known by other creators, which help me to focus and empower others to embrace a new future. In the end I have learned these principles do work but God alone can give the end for which I labor. The vision comes from him and the creation, which is deeply rooted in me, is developed by him. This work of the Spirit is not discussed by Fritz but everything he writes clearly lines up with it.