Metanoia is the invitation to thoroughly rethink. Metanoia is a call to rethink how you are presently doing what you are doing. Metanoia is radical work.
One of the renderings of the word Metanoia is ‘think again’. Proverbs 14:15 captures the idea as ‘the prudent person giving thought to their steps’. It is through ‘metanoia’ that we can gain great clarity on why we do what we do and why we make the kinds of decisions that we make.
Thinking again is deep work. It demands focus. It also provides focus. It requires us to push the pause button and take a fresh look at what needs to be attended to.
I see metanoia thinking as result-oriented-thinking, which is different from process-thinking.
Along with many, my natural inclination is to be a process thinker. A process thinker looks at what is happening and asks: How can we improve that? How can we make that more efficient? How can we simplify the process?
An example of this might be, “What changes could we make to how we do small groups so that it would be easier for people to join, or easier to lead? That is an example of process thinking. It is asking, ‘How can we tweak what we already have in place?’
Whereas ‘results oriented thinking’ begins with a different set of questions that go to the reason why something exists. For example, ‘What are the various results we want to see from what we are doing in small groups? The more measureable or observable the results the better. If we got what we were looking for what would it look like?
Here is an exercise you can try to get an experience of what I mean by deep work, or metanoia ‘think again’ work.
To prepare for this exercise, block out some uninterrupted time and find a place where it is easy for you to keep focused. Spend some time in prayer and identify a component of your ministry or organization to run through the following steps.
- Begin by answering this question. What measureable results do I want to see from this area? List as many as possible in the order that they come to you. When you are finished, try to think of a few more. Take lots of time on this. The emphasis is to identify, not evaluate. That comes later.
- Now dream. If every one of those results that you identified were to occur what would it look like? Describe what you see in as much detail as you can. Refrain from evaluating how you are presently doing (process thinking), instead stay focused on what you’d see if those results were to come about.
- Before you go any further, now is a good time to identify your core values. What are the core kingdom values that you want to express through every decision you will be making in this area of ministry? Write those values down and don’t lose sight of them.
- Now, back to the project. Look ahead six months and answer this question. If we had all the resources we needed what could we realistically accomplish in six months that would move us towards realizing the vision we identified in step 2? If we had all the money we needed, all the people we needed, and we had no other distractions, what could we potentially achieve in 6 months? Write down the details.
- Now, let go of the six month time frame. What you just recorded in step 4 may very likely be the strategic targets you want to now begin moving towards.
- Now, with the resources you presently have what could you begin doing that would move you towards what you identified in the last step (strategic targets)? When you will start? Who could help you? You are now shaping your immediate goals to make fresh, innovative steps towards a tangible vision.
Try it and see what happens. I’d be curious to know your experiences.
Here is what I hope for you. I hope that you will gain greater clarity on what needs to be done. It may require changes to the way you are doing ministry, but you now have the answers to two very important questions.
- Why are we doing what we are doing? (The fruit of results oriented thinking)
- Why are we making the choices we are making? (Core values are being expressed)
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