My understanding is that Ignation spirituality tells us that a feeling of dissatisfaction in our life can be a sign that God is actively pursuing us, seeking to draw us closer to what is true and life-giving. From this perspective, the dissatisfaction is something to celebrate. The longing for something more might be a seed that God has planted inside of us.
I believe that the same can be true in our experiences with organizations that we are a part of. Dissatisfaction that we feel with the current state of the organization might be a sign that God is actively drawing the organization towards healing, towards a truer calling.
Of course, dissatisfaction might also be a cynical pattern that we are stuck in, which keeps us from moving towards what is good around us. In my work with organizations, I like to focus on noticing what is the good, life-giving core to the organization, and build on that. But I also believe that actively paying attention to dissatisfaction can also be life-giving.
I recently facilitated a series of community meetings that left me feeling "brought low." In facilitating these cross-cultural, cross-generational dialogues I felt humbled by my personal and professional limitations, noticing my urges to withdraw when conflict emerges. In the meetings, we also felt some of the dissatisfaction that members of this organization had, such as frustrations about cultural gaps and tensions within the building. When I came home after these meetings, I felt reminded that my own limitations can be a helpful reminder to turn things over to God and to the community around me. I want to be supportive of God's movements in organizations, and not just try to fix things on my own.
Last week I had the chance to think about ideas like this as I participated in a seminar about the "Theology of Institutions," which was organized by a group called Seeing Things Whole. Several papers published by Seeing Things Whole lay out five premises about the theology of institutions:
- Institutions are a part of God's order
- God loves institutions.
- Institutions are living systems.
- Institutions are called and gifted, they are fallen, and they are capable of being redeemed.
- Faithfulness in institutional life is predicated upon the recognition and management
of multiple bottom lines.