A New Perspective on ChaosPublished May 14, 2019
This article is a part of the GLS19 Faculty Spotlight series where we feature fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content from this year’s Summit speakers.
It is such a thrill to welcome back multiple-time Global Leadership Summit faculty member and good friend Danielle Strickland to GLS19. Pastor, author and justice advocate, Danielle’s insightful teaching has marked us in significant ways. We recently had the chance to interview her on the GLS Podcast. Take a listen and see how her fascinating mind works!
We live in times of unprecedented change. As leaders, we often feel the tension of chaos and confusion. In this episode of the GLS Podcast, Danielle sits down with Jeff Lockyer to suggest a new way for leaders to view chaos—through the unlikely lens of the biblical account of creation.
Jeff Lockyer: In all of your travels, what are you noticing in the Church or in leadership in general? Are you sensing any trends? Are you seeing anything emerging?
Danielle Strickland: I’m blown away. All over the place, divisions—things that have held us back and kept us fighting against each other—they are coming down. There seems to be a new hope emerging for the possibilities of doing things a new way.
Jeff: Where do you think that’s coming from?
Danielle: We’re in massive shift. We got the printing press about 500 years ago, and it not only changed the way information was disseminated, but also the way power worked. It brought, at first, a real season of change and chaos. But also, incredible advances for humanity.
I think we are in one of those times again. We are in the greatest refugee crisis in history, which is bringing about a massive human migration on the earth. The internet changed not just how we disseminate information but also the way power works. And in the middle of all that shifting, changing, transitioning, there’s a desperation to pay attention to the things that matter. As leaders, we have an opportunity to bring hope in the midst of uncertainty.
Jeff: And that’s our topic for today—how to bring hope in chaotic and turbulent times. In light of all this chaos, you feel like there’s wisdom for us that surprisingly comes from the creation narrative in the Bible. Can you tell us how you first started to reflect on this?
Danielle: As a leader, I always had this idea that chaos was the enemy and order was king. Then, I had a season in my life when I was trying to do a church plant and establish safe housing in the downtown eastside of Vancouver—a drug addicted and dysfunctional neighborhood that was really defined by chaos. At the same time, I was working on a master’s degree in Leadership. So, I was learning all these leadership principles and being taught how to order things. And none of it worked in my context because it was so chaotic.
But what happened was that I became okay with not being in charge. And when I leaned into the chaos of that community, I began to see beautiful things happen.
So then, I started really looking into what is meant by order. I asked myself, “If God is orderly, in what way is He orderly?” And I went back to the very beginning because surely there would be some hints in the earliest creation account of how God works in bringing new things to be. And I found that God brings creative beauty in the midst of chaotic places.
Jeff: I’ve heard you say that everything stared with chaos. What strikes you about the fact that the creation narrative begins with chaos?
Danielle: For me, it was a game-changer because I had been taught that chaos was the enemy and God came in with order. But when I actually read the Hebrew story, there is this picture of the spirit of God hovering like a mother bird over chaos. Out of that place, there is giving birth to something beautiful.
I started to realize that we avoid chaos because we think it’s a threat. But what we end up avoiding are those places where God is waiting to bring beautiful things into being.
To listen to the complete interview with Danielle and Jeff, click on the link above. Or subscribe to the GLS Podcast, and every month, you will get episodes filled with great content like this delivered right to your smartphone.
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About the Author
Danielle Strickland is currently based in Toronto, Canada. She loves Jesus and she loves people. She is the author of 6 books with her most recent being Better Together: How Women and Men Can Heal the Divide and Work Together to Transform the Future. She is host of DJStrickland Podcast, ambassador for Stop the Traffik, as well as the co-founder of Infinitum, Amplify Peace, The Brave Campaign and the Women Speakers Collective. Danielle is a mom of 3, wife to @stephencourt and has been affectionately called the “ambassador of fun.”
Years at GLS 2016, 2018, 2019