In my leadership roles, I tend not to take a long view of time. I have deadlines that must be met this week, this month, maybe 6 months out. I tend to work on those projects. Sometimes the project stretches out due to delays beyond my control, but basically, like many people in the industrialized world, I want to see results and I want to see them soon.
Working as a Church Council president has been both rewarding and frustrating. I'm coordinating 9 to 12 Council members, and larger chunks of church membership. Everyone has their own schedules and views of what things should be done and when.
And sometimes, no matter how hard we work, we just cannot accomplish a task that we have deemed important. I've been feeling like this inability to move to completion is a massive failure of leadership on my part.
Happily, my pastor doesn't see it this way. Or perhaps he does, but then he reminds himself that the Holy Spirit moves in a different way. Perhaps as a Church we haven't been able to accomplish certain things because it simply wasn't the time for it yet.
It's the difference between Kairos time and Chronos time. In the youth groups of my past, we talked a lot about this idea. As an adult, I've lost sight of it.
The world moves rather rigidly on Chronos time. We march forward to the incessant beat of the clock.
Kairos time talks about the right or opportune time. It's often a more indeterminate time, an opening, a qualitative measure rather than the quantitative measure of Chronos time. In theological terms, we often use the idea of Kairos time when we talk about God's timetable rather than the timetable we create.
I find it a comforting idea. It doesn't let me off the hook completely. But it reminds me that I'm not the one in charge. I have ideas about where I'd like to move the Church (both on the local level and the national level), but God may have different ideas. And since God has a much broader perspective than I do, I need to learn to stop struggling in this Chronos world and move more gracefully in Kairos time.