30 years ago, Tom Peters’ wrote the book “Thriving on Chaos”. It was even popular in Kenya where I read it in 1990. It was about flexibility as an essential for corporate survival in a world where customer preferences were so unpredictable that constant market volatility was the order of the day. The main message of the book, as I recall, was that companies and organizations that thrived during chaotic times were those that would adapt rapidly. Those that failed were slow, inflexible, or fixed in their ways.

Today the internet and especially business leadership material is abuzz with articles on agility, the key ingredient for responding to change. Organizational survival is said to be dependent on the ability to respond quickly to the instabilities brought about by the pandemic, a situation that is still creating uncertainty about the future.

One Harvard Business Review article proposing flexibility over concrete plans suggests the following manifesto: “We embrace ruthless and constant prioritization and stop activities that are not yielding results within the time frame”

We do know, to some degree, the disruptive impact COVID-19 is having on our teams, our donor partners, and the people we serve, but the full picture of the long-term effects is still evolving.

The Board members of EMAS Canada recently took a test to assess its readiness for change. We want to know if we suffer from the Titanic Syndrome: one early sign of this disease is the inability to see alternative ways of doing things or to find different uses for our resources, which is the path to organizational death, how we might become a fossil.

One predisposition to this illness is having prideful overconfidence in our past successes. Procedures we have perfected over the seven decades of doing God’s work can deceive us into thinking we have the ideal ministry methods and tools.

Reading old testament stories about ventures, military and otherwise, done in obedience to God, one finds no formula. Likewise, Jesus in His healing and teaching can hardly be said to have had a fixed way of doing things.

King Hezekiah is an example and a warning for us, preceded by the idolatrous King Ahaz, the youthful and aggressive Hezekiah hit the ground running. He repaired the temple, inspired the nation, and restored the worship of God. His success was attributed to the wholehearted pursuit of God’s leading, and to a strict obedience of the Law.

Years later, Hezekiah failed. The blessings of God, which included a 15-year extension of his life, led to pride. Although he humbled himself over “the pride of his heart”, complacency would not let him change direction for the good of those who would come after him.

The EMAS Canada Board is not embracing complacency, however, and is developing a strategic framework during the pandemic. The goal is to bring our team leaders along in a process that will make us better stewards of God’s work, able to discern His leading, and more alert and responsive to new ways of fulfilling our Vision.

EMAS Canada is also seeking to build a stronger corporate financial base through the overseas ministry support fund. This will create greater flexibility by making funds available in the common pool as opposed to being locked in by specific country project accounts. You can support this general fund here.

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You can read the fascinating story of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles:29-33 and 2 Kings:18-20.

All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)

Feature image: Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash 


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A physician and surgeon in his native Kenya, Peter has a passion for Christ-centred healthcare and has a wealth of experience both hosting and sending short-term mission teams.

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