Tuesday, June 7, 2011

La pièce de résistance

How are we humans supposed to respond to resistance?

A. Fight through it.
B. Embrace it.
C. Avoid it.
D. Persuade it.

Does it matter who or what the resistance is? Sometimes the resistance is looking right at me in the mirror. Other times the resistance is a well-organized part of an institution. Other times the resistance is diffuse, yet omnipresent

Seth Godin invests a significant portion of his book Linchpin in the concept of "the resistance." Godin associates this concept with the portion of our brain that seeks comfort at all costs--survival mode or the status quo. In sociological terms, the resistance resembles a drive in organizations toward homeostasis--a calm center. It doesn't matter if the system is in decay, the resistance wants familiarity and peace.

In reading Linchpin, it's hard not think of Jesus' telling of The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Why do some of the servants/slaves take risks where one does not? What variables are present?

Explicit variables:
+Degree of fear
+Willingness to take risk

Implicit variables:
+Knowledge of the market
+Strength of relationships

The thread linking all of these variables is the resistance. There are theological terms that serve in relationship to the resistance, some might call it sin. Lutherans might call it "old Adam (others?)."

The interesting proposition is that the Parable of the Talents, and numerous authors, preachers, journalists, columnists and psychologists place all kinds of effort into addressing the resistance. Through shame, finger pointing, fear mongering, brain analysis and story telling (remember "Who Moved My Cheese?), the resistance receives a lot of attention.

These days, I'm leaning toward embracing resistance. According to Matthew, avoidance never works in the long term, and leads to weeping and gnashing of teeth. I will invest more time in the Parable of the Talents and Linchpin in my first year at St. John's Lutheran Church because the resistance is what confounds congregations and pastors and causes them to bury their talents in a hole, much like in The Parable. It doesn't take much searching among sister congregations and colleagues to see and hear weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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