Two simple, yet powerful words: “So That”.
Lately I’ve been drawn to these simple words as a way to get to the purpose, the intended results of actions. Or, in the nomenclature of leadership principles, to align our actions with our mission. It’s a little like a 3 year-old asking “Why?” all the time. You know, when the child says “Why?” to everything we say (in order to get attention), we’re forced dig deeper to articulate the core reasons for what we’ve said.
Likewise, using “So That” is like peeling back the skin of an onion, delving deeper and deeper to see the real reasons for our actions – whether they connect with a worthwhile purpose and help advance it. Or whether we’ve lost connection and need to refocus.
I first learned of the “So That” concept from Lovett Weems when he spoke at a conference of lay leaders and lay speaking directors earlier this year. Then I saw it explained in more detail in the new book that Lovett and Tom Berlin wrote, called Bearing Fruit: Ministry With Real Results. The book is good and I’d recommend it.
The authors say that “So That” are “the two most powerful words for leadership.” That’s a pretty strong statement. If it’s true, perhaps we as leaders should use them more.
Actually they’re also very scriptural. The authors give several examples of basic, well-known scriptures that use “so that”: John 3:16, Romans 12:2, Exodus 25:8, I John 4:9. I’ve begun to see the words a lot more lately. See how many places you can find “so that” in your Bible – circle them – and see the result that’s emphasized.
As leaders, we know that we must focus upon the mission of the church – making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Think about that. We seek to make disciples of Jesus SO THAT our world, beginning with our communities, our neighborhoods, even ourselves, will be better. More like what God intended. Eventually, in God’s time. With all that’s going on in the world and our communities today, that’s a purpose to get fired up about!
Each congregation has its own version of that mission – or should have. All of our programs and activities should align with the mission, contributing to its accomplishment. But often we struggle with determining alignment and simply continue doing things like we’ve done before. Congregation leaders who seriously use “So That” in a process find that people begin to see how traditional activities like choir and vacation Bible school can become more purposeful toward the mission. Even restructuring toward a simpler organization isn’t an end in itself, but should only be done “So That” the mission is advanced. As Lovett and Tom say, “using the two important words so that has the power to change the way leaders work with their congregations toward fruitfulness.”
Give it a try. You have worship or Sunday School or visitation or stewardship campaigns “So That . . .” And you want to accomplish that “So That . . .” Eventually, you should end up at contributing to the mission. And if you don’t, it’s time to re-think and re-focus the activities to get the results – the “fruit” – you want.
THANKS again for your leadership. May God bless and inspire you as you continue to grow in His grace – “So That . . .”!