I’ve been doing a series of posts taking some insights from Tom Kelley’s book The Ten Faces of Innovation and applying them to church in the postmodern context.
The first three faces (Anthropologist, Experimenter, Cross-pollinator) were classified by Kelley as learning personas. Today’s face (the Hurdler) starts a group called the organizing personas.
Hurdlers are those who consistently manage to take an adverse situation and make an opportunity out of it. They do more with less. They make lemonade when life gives them lemons. They have a knack for seeing how to side-step a problem instead of tackling it head-on. Give them tight constraints, limited resources, and a small budget and they excel. They turn obstacles into opportunities. People like this are sorely needed in the church today.
They’re needed because too often in the church we assume we can’t do good stuff because of __________ (fill in limitation here). Often the thought process goes a little something like this:
- We want to do some good stuff in our community
- We need money to do good stuff
- Let’s spend our time getting money so we can do good stuff
The unfortunate result is that, most of the time, we spend all our time trying to get the resource we think we need, and we never get around to actually doing any good stuff.
But Hurdlers think differently – again they have an ability to side-step a problem instead of trying to tackle it head-on. Their thought process might go something like this:
- We want to do good stuff in our community
- We don’t have much money
- Let’s find creative ways to do good stuff that don’t cost much money
I think churches would end up bearing much more fruit for the kingdom if they had more people will this kind of "can do" attitude when the naysayers are despairing. Hurdlers have an ability to maintain optimism in the face of those who "know better" (experts). The thing about experts is that they have deep knowledge of what has worked in the past. This can be very valuable, actually, because we don’t need to make the same mistakes twice. But it can also be a problem, because experts can sometimes be blind to new solutions that circumvent conventional wisdom. Hurdlers are those with the courage and pluck to just keep pushing at something, even when the tide of conventional wisdom and expert opinion are flowing the other way. They’ll listen to the experts, but won’t let them have the final word. Sometimes it takes decades for Hurdlers to finally accomplish their goals, but eventually their persistence usually pays off.
In the church, we need to cherish Hurdlers, because their hugely important for solving problems and getting great ideas implemented. They can sometimes be stubborn and frustrating, but they’re well worth keeping around. We’ll just get more stuff done with a few Hurdlers around.
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