Here are two competing maxims of leadership:

On the one hand, we are told:

Simplicity rules. Portable is memorable.

Complexity confuses. So KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

However, we are also told:

Vision & values are distinctive. Be unique. Be YOU.

Don’t say what everyone else is saying. Visioneer your variety.

How do we hold these two leadership lessons in tension, especially when we consider communicating who we are in our vision and mission statements, our value lists, our strategic themes.

We want to communicate well but also say something distinctive. We want to dish out something everyone will understand and get into–but we want more than vanilla too. We want a broad impact but a narrow focus.

How is this done? How have you done it or seen it done? Is it possible to be simple and unique at the same time in our communication, or does the unique complexify things, and beg explanation? Does the simple suppress individuality, squashing distinctives?

I’m thinking about this in terms of the word “holiness.” It is no doubt a distinctive of people in my tribe in the Kingdom of God (the Wesleyan types). Some in our tribe have bristled at using the term, as it can be misunderstood as being about “holy rollers” or about legalism. For me, it seems helpful to discover why terms like “entire sanctification” caught on in the first place. Why did those words grip those looking for more than a stagnant religiosity? Why did they compel people to seek a deeper life in the Holy Spirit’s power?

I think it wise to examine these motives (and I hope church history scholars will help us do so better in the future… “The Story” book and WesleyanHistory.org are filling the gap for now). By doing so we can re-discover the motivation to communicate these things in a compelling manner, rather than to “believe in the brand and buzz words more than we believe in the doctrine itself” which is less than the goal of theology, preaching & communication.

I’m not looking to resurrect old words–but I am interested in how older distinctives “caught on” and how we might communicate the concept of our unique hope and holy living.

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