But contentment is not always good, like when you become content with who you are as an individual or an organization. This leads to spiritual or organizational complacency and spiritual inertia. It is what I call “old wineskin disease.”
What is the cause of “old wineskins disease”? Status quo leaders, like the religious establishment who frustrated Jesus, that have too little compassion and too much contentment. That’s a lethal combination that can bring about mission paralysis and the eventual death of any church or organization.
When an organization is new, everything is fluid and flexible. Change is the norm. Over time, however, as a church adopts more and more policies, procedures, and programs, people start saying, “That’s not the way we do it; this is who we are; this is how we serve our people.” And eventually, structures become rigid. Flexible movements, once creative and adaptive, turn into monuments chiseled by past successes.
Remember, if you do what you’ve always done, then you will get what you’ve already got.
If any organization is going to stay fresh and alive, then it must learn how to remain soft and flexible like a new wineskin. It’s time for an infusion of innovation and the power of creativity. In today’s world, innovation is not just for the entrepreneur, it’s for everyone who wants to survive. The future belongs to the leader or organization that learns the art of flexing their forms without forgetting their core values.
Joshua and the Israelites risked the spiritual inertia of contentment when they lived in the dessert. Life got pretty easy. They became accustomed to the manna God provided every day for them to eat. But the promise land was waiting for them and God’s plan for their lives was so much more exciting than the plan with which they accustomed themselves.
Fortunately, Joshua believed in God’s plan and he would not allow his people to settle for status quo. In Joshua 3, he activated his people and led them over the Jordan River to the promise land.
But they still needed to overcome the second cause of spiritual inertia, fear.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, God performed a miracle. He parted the river, like he had done with Moses and the Red Sea. He could have just built a ship or a bridge in a blink of an eye. It would have been just as miraculous and amazing. So why part the river?
God provided a way for the Israelites to move forward, but he gave them no way to turn back. A ship or a bridge goes two ways, but by parting the river and closing it again behind them, he eliminated their option to stop progress when fear would eventually creep in. They were forced to trust in God and keep moving forward.
Is your church or organization experiencing spiritual inertia as a result of contentment or fear? What other causes of spiritual inertia do you see threatening the forward progress of your organization toward God’s greater plan for it?