Tension is Good – Reggie Joiner

For a long time I bought into the myth that tension on a team is bad. So my goal was to simply try to avoid it. It seems to make sense. If we can get everyone to work together in a non debative, stress-free, harmonious environment, then we can do great things together. Somewhere along the way, I learned to not only respect, but to invite the kind of tension that pushes us to make better decisions, and to clarify what really matters. Think about the points of tension in your ministry or organization. Isn’t it true that some of the most clarifying moments for your team were the result of tension?

  • There is not one aspect of life where tension doesn’t have critical value.
  • Tension between the parties and branches of a government creates a needed system of checks and balances.
  • Tension in science can lead to remarkable insights and discoveries.
  • Tension in a family provides an opportunity to demonstrate commitment and unconditional love.
  • Tension within a team pushes them to better perspectives and deeper relationships.

If you want a good example of the potential tension has to affect your team, think about the relationship Jesus had with His disciples. A close study of the New Testament recognizes that it was packed with tension. Too many Christians have an image of twelve best friends sitting in circle on a peaceful hillside listening to their teacher tell inspirational stories. It’s just too easy to miss the point that Jesus almost always made His point in the middle of some extremely tense moments. He actually leveraged tension to mold His disciples into the kind of men who would change the world. Think about it.

  • He partied with tax-collectors and prostitutes — to challenge the disciples’ deep-rooted prejudices.
  • He broke sacred traditions — so they would value people.
  • He led them into a stormy sea — to take away their fear.
  • He angrily interrupted a church service — to expose how greed can corrupt leaders.
  • He let one of his best friends die — to show them the power of resurrection.
  • He publically debated religious leaders — so he could clarify what really mattered.
  • He didn’t always explain what he said — so they would wrestle with what he meant.
  • He let them argue and have power struggles — to teach them how to serve each other.
  • He refused to defend himself to an enraged mob — so they would know god’s mission was more important than their own lives.
  • He died a violent death — to show them how to forgive and be forgiven.
  • Then he left them standing on a hillside after he disappeared into the sky with no clear indicator of where he was going or when he was coming back.

Jesus never avoided tension. He did just the opposite. He led his disciples right into the middle of some of the most dangerous and stressful situations imaginable to stretch their faith. No wonder they were ready to confront a broken world with a message of restoration and redemption. They had been trained for three years to trust God’s provision and power against impossible odds. Those lessons learned during the stressful and difficult moments gave them the determination and passion to show a world God’s love and grace. Jesus used tension to deepen their message and anchor their hearts to discoveries about God and themselves forever.

  • Tension is good.
  • It is absolutely required if you want to have an authentic faith.
  • It is critical if you hope to engage in God’s story of restoration and redemption.
  • Tension compels us to respond to a higher calling.
  • Tension helps us face our doubts.
  • Tension challenges who we think we are.
  • Tension clarifies what we believe about God.
  • Tension prepares us to live our lives with a deeper message as a part of a bigger story.

So invite it. Create it if necessary. If you avoid tension as a leader, you are potentially robbing your team of the kind of defining moments that shape their character, stretch their faith, and clarify powerful insights. So choose to embrace it, even pursue it. By doing so you add an essential ingredient to your team that will give them the potential to change the world around them.

Reggie Joiner
is the founder and CEO of Orange, a nonprofit organization providing resources and training for churches to maximize their influence on the spiritual growth of the next generation. He also leads the creative efforts behind the Orange Conference and Orange Tour. He is the author of several books including Think Orange, Slow Fade, The Orange Leaders Handbook, and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. He and his wife, Debbie, live in Cumming, Georgia, and have four grown children: Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah

Till death us do part by Gerry Couchman

Such a powerful statement! Such a huge verbal commitment, that gets repeated over and over again, by couples on their wedding day! BUT……. 50% of these couples will be separated long before death separates them!

Spiraling divorce rates, broken homes and broken people everywhere. Kids scarred for life, and adults carrying emotional baggage from one relationship to the next! There’s no difference inside the church or outside.

Are we the church doing enough to reverse these horrific trends?

Almost all churches insist on pre-marital counseling, but that’s where many stop. Once married, the couples are “on their own!” I know some counselors do demand that the couple return 6 months after their wedding day, and some churches do run marriage enrichment courses, BUT IS IT ENOUGH, given the need of our communities? Are we not just living with the scenario versus addressing it?

The question is “what more can be done?”

How do we teach young people about commitment; about relationships, love and communication? How do we not only teach it but more importantly how do we model it?

Imagine if your church was the church in your city with the lowest divorce rate! In Acts2 , we are told that people were drawn to the church because they witnessed the congregation’s love for one another. Not just for other people in the church, but also husband to wife, wife to husband and parents to kids!

Experts tell us that there are many different causes of divorce, but here are the most common ones:

1. MONEY: Usually this is named as the number one reason! Couples fighting over who spent what; over running up accounts versus saving; your money and my money; not enough money! This should be an “easy” fix for the church. There are many sitting in our churches who could give this type of counseling.

2. COMMUNICATION: The lack of, is the root of all problems! How is he wired? How is she wired? The inability to handle conflict! There are many tools out there to start a process of learning to understand and communicate better.

3. WRONG EXPECTATIONS: Don’t see your partner as a perfect person, BEFORE you get married! This should be addressed obviously during the premarital counseling, but should definitely be re-addressed at regular intervals going forwards.

4. COMMITTMENT: The lack of!!! It’s too easy to hit the edit button or the delete button and start again! The world’s role Models have made it ok, to just walk away when the going gets tough. We’ve got to model and teach God’s way!

5. ADDICTIONS: Addictions become a life pattern! A few drinks after work…! This is one area that many churches do. Offer support ministries – but AFTER THE FACT!

6. SEX: Another huge area of high expectation and stress! The world tells us that it should be WOW all the time! What can the Bible teach us? What can the folks in the church that have been married for +20 years teach young marrieds?

7. MID-LIFE CRISIS: For both men and women, the realization that their wonderful dreams are not going to be for filled! Men will change a job, location or lifestyle because they need a new challenge. They are looking for a new lust for life! Abrupt changes have a huge impact on spouses. This all comes as no surprise! We all age at the same rate, so it should be very predictable and therefore fixable!

8. LITTLE THINGS: Those little irritating small things that build up and become huge if not addressed – snoring, toothpaste caps, toilet seat, different career goals.

9. SOCIETY: There’s no stigma any more! Legally the laws are too lenient! It’s too easy to divorce! Dual careers adds pressure. The wife feels she’s carrying all the burden of the home plus having to work! Couples needto know how they are going to function before they get married!

So, that’s the list! This is what the evil one is using to destroy homes and families! With the brain power that God has given you in your church, every one of the major causes of divorce can be countered ! All we have to be is FOCUSSED and INTENTIONAL!

In the 9th and 10th century the divorce rate was at its lowest in history! Why?

Because THE CHURCH WAS AT ITS STRONGEST! It’s time to start taking back ground!


What’s your strategy going to be?