If an organization exists to serve a cause greater than itself, then it should be willing to persevere through difficulty (check), to adapt to new contexts (check) and even to strategically shut itself down (what?).
In fact, I believe this is a core leadership principle for individuals and organizations. And, as it’s true with individuals, organizations have tendencies to do some of these things better than others.
Wycliffe USA (along with our primary partners around the world, I might add) has a track record that proves a historic commitment to perseverance. I’d say that we are quite good at digging in when times get tough. Our organizational history is packed full of stories of toughing it out.
Things are changing around us at a pace and to a depth that we must either adapt or get out of the way. One of the reasons I’m proud of the leaders with whom I work and serve in Wycliffe is that we do appropriately ask ourselves the questions, “Is it time to let go?” “Is it time to shut down?” and “Is it time to get out of the way?”
As a leader, I must keep asking God to give me the sense and the sensitivity to His Spirit to know which of these responses is the right one at every juncture — both for the organization and initiative I lead and for myself as a leader. The fact that I’m ruminating on this (as I was in August in response to the Leadership Summit, for example) it not indicative of any cataclysmic event to which I’m reacting — it is, I believe, a part of what leadership requires of us with consistency.
Still, it would be so much easier if I could get an email each morning with a list of the things I’d encounter through the day with boxes checked next to each item indicating the appropriate response: (a) Hold on. (b) Bend & stretch. (c) Get out of the way!