A New Clarity  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

In an earlier post I offered up the need for this concept of Clarity. The dialogue that followed was great! Some pretty powerful stuff was unpacked. One of the things uncovered in the back-and-forth was what I see as unclarity about clarity itself - because "clarity" has become associated with legalistic, fundamentalist, over-defined, rigid, narrow-minded, hyper-structured definition. As some of the bloggers graciously offered up, there's something about purity (free of contaminates as John said) and authenticity at the heart of it all.

Interestingly enough, I was out of town for a few days last week at a prep meeting for this years Leadership Summit. 4 different speakers each introduced their topic by saying they felt their was a deficit of "clarity" on the mission by leaders! It was a crazy convergence week for me as "clarity" was popping up everywhere as both a diagnosis for problems and prescription for release.

But how do you reconcile "clarity" with "life in the margins" as Arnie so nicely stated?

We have to know what it's all about. Hint: it's not the hokey pokey after all. It's about loving God, loving people - and as leaders, it's bringing other people to a life that has those consuming characteristics. It's about figuring faith and life out "on the margins" with grace and love that keeps moving forward towards God.

How do you practice clarity in a world of gray?

Why "gray" you ask? Because we have to push our relationships to bring faith and reality into contact, and lead people in the process of becoming followers of Christ who are so alive on the vine that fruit cannot help but spring forth in their lives. Check out this quote about music and artistic instruction and look for parallels to a life of discipleship:

In musical compositions, so long as we hear merely single tones, we do not hear music. Hearing music depends upon the reception of the in-between of the tones, of their placing and of their spacing.

In writing, knowledge of spelling has nothing to do with an understanding of poetry.

Equally, a factual identification of colors within a given painting has nothing to do with a sensitive seeing nor with an understanding of the color action within the painting...

Our concern is the interaction of color; that is, seeing what happens between colors...

Colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing conditions.

- Josef Albers' "Interaction of Color" (as quoted in Organic Community by Joseph Myers)

There's a need to show how to become, versus how to simulate; how to walk versus arrive; how to sift through the muck of a situation with discernment and love versus predefine 1,001 rules; to see "what happens between the colors."

We, as leaders still need to strive for clarity. Clarity, of course, only can truly come from personal clarity of purpose and mission, of faith in Jesus with authentic messiness - but then we must share the clarity in how we seek to relate to people.

Just some Monday morning thoughts that had been percolating in my heart...

For all of you "anonymous" folks - maybe sign your comments with initials or a pseudonym so we can at least pretend to dialogue specifically with a person? If you're really brave...you could even risk being "known!" :o)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 1:3)!

This entry was posted at Monday, February 25, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 thoughts and responses

I missed the earlier 3 question episode, but wonder if I could throw another kink into the contemplation of Clarity. Could clarity be more than being firm in what you believe and desire as the business man suggested? Could it be that clarity is actually a side effect of understanding the truth of what life is actually about? I would like to suggest that Clarity comes from someone’s world view. In an eternal sense it should be based upon God’s Word & work through the Holy Spirit, but even an evolutionist could have even a degree of clarity when he answers the ultimate set of questions that deal with the meaning, origin of life and purpose for life if we were to define clarity under the business man’s definition. I believe that clarity is a side effect of answering those ultimate questions in such as way to be logically possible. I am not saying that their answers are correct or are not susceptible to criticisms, but are sufficient in answering the questions in a satisfactory manner in which brings clarity.
Are there degrees of clarity in the Christian life? I believe so. It’s like having degrees of sight. Without my contacts you will look blurry, but with the help of lenses life comes into focus. God becomes my lenses and reveals to me what He wants me to see. Sometimes we turn a “blind eye” toward His truth and ultimately we will not see clearly until the end of this age. Does this excuse us from seeking clarity? That would be the same as saying, “Since I cannot know everything I won’t even try to know anything.” It all sounds so philosophical, but boiled down the more we see with what’s right about Him, truth, and what’s wrong about us, sin-blindness to it, the more clarity we will through Him. The more he comes into focus in our minds and hearts the more clear we will be. Call it authentic, real or transparent, but the bottom line is that you are firm in who rules your life and what life is for.

February 26, 2008 at 2:57 PM

I do think that Mike is right when he says that ""clarity" has become associated with legalistic, fundamentalist, over-defined, rigid, narrow-minded, hyper-structured definition."

However, that's not what I meant. At least not in total.

I think you're onto something with the artistic quote you included. Artists at first learn the basics, then they play the basics better and better. Practice makes perfect. But at some point, the art becomes less about the playing of particular notes or painting of particular colors and more about the expression of the artist--an extension of character--a natural outgrowth of who the artist has become.

So it is with apprentices of Jesus. We begin with guidelines of some sort (called purpose statements, core values and vision plans by our commerce/consumer-driven culture) but at some point we stop "doing" the particular purposes and begin "being" artisans of Jesus-like character. We no longer do good deeds, we are a good deed, an epic masterpiece of God's to the world.

Mike said "We, as leaders still need to strive for clarity. Clarity, of course, only can truly come from personal clarity of purpose and mission, of faith in Jesus with authentic messiness..." Personally, I believe that the authentic clarity worth striving for is integrity (wholeness) of character, and it can exist no matter how unclear a purpose or mission might be. Purposes and missions often come and go, but integrity of character, what Thomas of Kempis called the imitation of Christ, is what truly draws people to us.

February 26, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Am inclined to disagree about the Hokey Pokey "put your whole self in" That's what it's all about.

February 26, 2008 at 4:49 PM

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