Saturday, January 03, 2009

Commander's Intent

In the opening pages of “Made to Stick", authors Chip and Dan Heath talk about the way the Army adapted its planning process in the 1980’s and invented what they call, “Commander’s Intent” or CI.

CI is a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, clarifying the desired end-state of operations. The CI never specifies so much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. The army believes that with a clear CI, you could lose the ability to execute the original plan, but still never lose the responsibility of executing the intent.

I’m often surprised with God’s apparent reticence to give detailed plans. In fact, usually I don’t even receive detailed sentences. I’ve learned with God you have to be listening.  Although you wouldn’t know that based on much of my prayer life. Forgetting that the burden is actually on me to wait and not on Him I plead for God to listen to me!  He responds.  Sometimes.  What follows is usually a short, controlled response… “Go”, “Wait”, “Pray”, etc…  He doesn’t seem to be too worried about the details.  Although one could argue he used to be.   Take a look at Leviticus or Numbers… yeah, lots of details. But things didn’t go quite right with the detailed plan. God, desiring mercy over sacrifice (Psalm 40:6, Micah 6) and faith over rules (Galatians 3) switched things up. In a jaw-dropping adaptation of the plan He chose to clothe Himself in humanity. Trading in the predictability of heaven for the unpredictability of earth He was tempted just like us! These intense temptations, these dark emotions… this exposure to the volatility of the human condition forged what I would now like to call the Commander’s Intent according to Jesus, “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself" which is good to know because unforeseen obstacles breakdown plans in life just as they do in the battlefield.

-I have a sister going through a complete job change at mid-life. Unexpected.
-I have a sister-in-grace going through the loss of her father. Unforeseen.
-I spoke with a friend recently who was broken hearted about some decisions their pastor had made. Not in the plan.
-Oh, and I know of pastor who is struggling because of decisions made by a few of his parishioners. Unpredicted.
-And then there's me. Yeah, I've got issues! I was unaware of them as well. Believe me, they weren't in my plan.

This is a reminder that all these problems, the unplanned scenarios, these situations where we feel as though we are squinting through a fog, ... they aren't the intent. The plans might be derailed, but above all else the CI remains: Love God and love others.

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jtc said...

endurance ...

I naturally feel disappointment in the fact that sometimes somethings just don't last ... jobs, churches, relationships, (housing markets ...j/k) but I remind myself that while it is true, good things sometimes don't last , I remind myself that the bad times wont/don't last either.

Plus I remind myself that there is one thing that will last, one thing that does endure time, and that's love... especially God's love for us.

shawnmcq said...

My thoughts are nearly identical to Jtc. God's love endures. That is enough for me, that sustains me.
I don't deny that there are problems in this world, I just defy them.

Jonathan Foster said...

thanks guys. "for everything there is a season."