I was in the Army for over twenty years. Building acronyms was part of what the Army did. Instead of saying someone was “absent without leave” we said they were AWOL, most often pronounced “A-Wall.” Old timers might spell it out “A-double u-oh-el.”
VUCA is an acronym. On the negative side it means: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. On the positive side it can be transformed into vision, understanding, clarity, and agility (with adaptability understood and an excellent option or alternative). We live in a world framed by VUCA, but which one?
There is a strong biblical and theological reason for hope. Hope helps us to see the opportunities. Turning VUCA around from negative to positive meaning is accomplished through these principles:
- Volatility yields to Vision
- Uncertainty yields to Understanding
- Complexity yields to Clarity
- Ambiguity yields to Agility [& Adaptability]
The 2008-18 Map of Future Forces Affecting the Episcopal Church suggested that to bring about this VUCA turnaround, faith in the future would call for:
- Vision that gives you meaning, with intent that articulates a meaningful future – beyond the polarities of the present.
- Understanding the grace of all people, with a sense of empathy that grows with the differences all around us.
- Clarity of discernment and communication, in the fog of disbelief and the conditions of the VUCA world, clarity of discernment leads to faith. For some, discernment means discovering God’s will for your life or discerning your own calling. Clarity of communication means stating clearly to others what you think is going on and what needs to be done. Clarity is required to create an effective strategy for change. Clarity is needed so that others can understand your strategic intent for the church.
- Agility in the practice of faith, since predetermined action is brittle in a VUCA world riddled with surprises, an agent of change must be…practiced, agile [and adaptable.] You need to prototype your way to success and fail in constructive ways.
Following a period of testing and refinement in the wilderness Joshua (in verses 24: 15 of the Hebrew Bible book bearing his name) would say: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
There is a whole lot of vision, understanding, clarity and agility in that. And serving the Lord can be about building the Kingdom. I vote we see the future in terms of Joshua.
Selah, Pastor Dennis