The Leap into Possibility - Habit 6: Synergize!

Nehemiah 8: 1-12 and Romans 12: 2-10

Be geese! (Grandpa and grandson: Fishing and watch geese in V – and explain the teamwork of their flight)

Diversity makes us stronger. We need difference. Danger of echo chamber. If two people agree the second is unnecessary.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nehemiah gathers the entire population, including women and children (who were normally not included in teaching of Torah. Ezra, the scribe, read the Law for six hours with the people standing, attentive. Their response was grief at how they had moved away from God’s intentions. They bowed their heads in submission – and then prostrated themselves on the ground. And then….then…they worked together to do better. TOGETHER.

  • Sequoias grow so tall because they interconnect their root systems for nutrients, water and support.[i]

  • Builders know this. One 2 by 4 supports 607 lbs. Two of them support 1,821 lbs – more than twice that, And two nailed together can support 4,878 lbs.[ii]

  • Stew or gumbo

  • Healthy churches (no universal truth or unified opinions)

“Without difference there’s no basis for synergy, no option to create new solutions or opportunities.’[iii]

Relationships are stronger when synergy is a part of the mix. The relationship between two people is an entity in itself, and it may be “the most empowering, the most unifying and the most exciting part.”[iv] Synergy is the result of practicing habits 4 and 5 where we go for win-win and seek first to understand. Building relationships in these ways allows for the magic to happen

Body of Christ: St. Paul uses this image to help us understand. We are more than just hands and arms, legs and feet, brain and stomach, kidneys and heart. Each has a function, and are necessary to the whole. We are all those parts and more than the sum of them. Our whole body can do far more than all the parts could combined but unconnected. Just try managing without one arm or leg when it’s broken, or one eye when its damaged. We feel the loss.

Also true of the church. If we were all organists, there would be no choir. If all our choir sang the melody, we would miss the harmony. If we were all trustees of the building, there would be no education program, or people working on our relationships. Connected and working together we can do far more than we can individually.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Love binds us together. Being free means “being free FOR the other because the other has bound me close. Only in relation with the other am I free.”[v]

Truth is – we’re better together. We’re stronger together. We have greater resilience together than each of us on our own. True for people. True for churches. Our relationships, which include difference, make us stronger and better and more creative and resilient than we can even imagine.

But it’s risky. It challenges our thinking. Moves us out of our comfort zone and into the realm of uncertainty. Synergy requires opening us up to new possibilities outside of our control. When we work to synergize we DON’T know the outcome in advance. It’s a voyage of discovery every time. Move over Lewis and Clark!

  • The risk is worth taking because it creates new options. Covey calls it “The third way,” just like early Christian mystics. In this third way, insights and creativity flow. We aren’t locked down by our preconceptions or past patterns. Something new is possible.

  • THIS IS THE PATH OF THE SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is quite comfortable with these new paths. In fact, there is room for this Wild Goose, the other image for the Spirit used in ancient Christianity, to move. It’s exciting to know that we have left room for God to guide us, for each other to be sources of wisdom in ways we haven’t experienced ourselves.

Perhaps you’ve had some of these experiences. Maybe been moved to tears by music and words you didn’t understand. Maybe your thinking was totally changed by a comment from an unlikely source. Or perhaps, you were talking with someone close to you and brainstormed until you came up with a much better idea than either of you had in the first place. This SYNERGIZING happens in the church too. Several of us might be brainstorming about music and come up with new possibilities from a remark one person said. Or in the nominating process we talk about the talents needed in a position and as we discuss, several people have the same person in mind – someone that wasn’t on anyone’s idea list before.

In these moments, God is at work.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Nazis, endeavoring to force Indiana Jones into running a gauntlet of traps, shoot his father and tell him that the healing power of the Holy Grail is the only thing that can save his father. He must take the risks…he comes to “The Path of God,” where his father’s journal tells him, as he is standing at the lip of a canyon, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” It’s a leap of faith, he realizes. He stretches out his foot and plunges down – onto an invisible walkway that stretches across the canyon to the chamber full of cups, one of which is the Holy Grail.

The step of SYNERGY is a risk, a trust in relationship with God and each other that brings new possibilities – for those willing to take the leap of faith into new possibilities.

In our difference is strength, complementary abilities, and blessing…in our relationship we are stronger…and if we will risk the new alternative, new possibilities will emerge.

[i] Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 183-4. [ii] Covey, 194. [iii] Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 257. [iv] Covey, 263. [v] Becca Stevens, Tea. 133.

Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash