Complicated vs. Complex
The difference between complicated and complex has been an interesting topic in various areas of our culture in the last decade. For an interesting description, see Cuban’s description in the Washington Post. I heard it described in a similar manner at a recent leadership conference. Assembling the internals of a watch or repairing an automobile engine could be classified as complicated. Following a blueprint or step by step manual, whether it takes step 10 steps or 1000, should end up at the same, successful result. As one speaker pointed out, “you will not be surprised by a clown jumping out.” Alternatively, a complex system is one for which a blueprint will not always arrive at the same desired result. Examples would be predicting the weather 2 weeks in the future, or for me, successfully growing a garden. Humility requires admitting that raising a 4-year old is in the same bucket. The results are not perfectly predicted…and a clown could jump out (not the child, but me looking like a clown).
What does this have to do with a church’s blog? I better spin this towards something spiritual, shouldn’t I? So much of pastoral ministry involves encouraging and shepherding folks towards a deeper relationship with God. What could be more important? It would be nice to be able to put together a step by step blueprint, even if it we called it complicated. But the more one grows in their relationship with the Lord, one realizes that the system is complex. How the job is going, a blown-up relationship, a sickness or injury coming from nowhere at such a smooth time in life, an unexpected AC repair, and good ol’ 1st world busyness – all of these contribute to the lens through which we view our relationship with God. One simply can’t “game” the relationship with God into a list, no matter how complicated the list is allowed to be.
That being said, two Scriptures come to mind. The first is Romans 12:2, emphasizing that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we think about the day we have ahead, a planner likes to think through and orchestrate as much as possible. Even for the most detailed Type A planner, he/she is still going to live through over 99% of that day in reaction to what happens (and sometimes that even involves a clown jumping out at a time when you weren’t in the mood for a joke). It’s complex, isn’t it? Hence, we must let relationship with God and His speaking through His Word be the transforming forces. That’s why Paul tells us in Col 3:16 that we are to let the Word of God dwell in us richly. I love that word picture. Most people have had a friend or relative dwell with them for a period of time. Their dwelling with us changes things and affects us in significant ways. God’s Word dwelling in us does the same. Many speak of digesting God’s Word. Digesting affects us to the core. Similarly, God’s Word dwelling in us produces results, as the passage goes on to share – teaching and correcting, praising and giving thanks.
Life is complex, and I mean that as an encouragement. If you are struggling in some way with your relationship or closeness with God, you’re not alone. But admitting that, don’t sit on the sidelines. Given the complexity of what your life is pitching, you “ain’t got time for that.” If this has stirred up something at all in your heart, respond to the Lord’s longing and seek to let God’s Word dwell in you richly today.