Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel – Part 5

In his book Intuitive Leadership, near the end of the book Tim Keel talks about leadership as posture. I loved the whole book, and these postures were my favorite part of the book.

Here is the final posture Keel recommends for leaders.

9. A Posture of Dependence: From Resolution to Tension – and Back Again
Like chaos, the leader can embrace tension. Tension is created when two seemingly opposed realities are held in a dynamic relationship that demands engagement and interaction. Yet, since tension is discomforting, we attempt to opt quickly for resolutions that often maximize one half of a complex reality at the expense of the other half. In each of Keel’s leadership postures, leaders learn to embrace the twin realities in their dynamic tension (answers vs. questions, head vs. heart, work vs. play, etc) more readily than previously allowed. Leaders tend to be reactive and swing from one extreme to the other. Such reactions, Keel argues, are neither generative nor sustainable. To avoid the reactive swings toward quick resolution of tension, leaders must learn to live in and lead out of tension. Again, a posture of dependence and trust on God’s creative and dynamic work must be present in the leader. “What if leaders learned to live in and lead out of tension? What if leaders learned to discover the kind of dangerous peace that comes from knowing and engaging God in a creative and dynamic way? What if leaders refused resolution, not because resolution is bad but because it too often comes about as a way of escaping the demanding posture of dependence?”

4 Responses to Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel – Part 5

  1. CO Fines says:

    JR, I hear you about tension, and yet there is something not right. I spent part of my day mowing overlong grass and the only way I could get thru it was to redline the tractor placing horrible tension on the engine, the mowers, and me. I’m still recovering. If that’s what we have to look forward to on the other side, I’m having second thoughts.

    Yes, it is necessary to learn to live with discomfort. That might be the hardest lesson for today. But rather than becoming comfortable with tension as the means, I wonder if balance might not be a better ride. The bird sitting on a twig flicking its tail up and down to keep its balance isn’t tense, if anything its relaxed.

    Not head tucked under its wing relaxed, but not tense either. Okay, tense enough to not get picked off by a hawk, but you don’t learn to ride a unicycle by being tense. Or at least it will take you longer.

  2. JR Woodward says:


    Hey, it’s good to hear from you again. Instead of having an either/or here, tension verses balance, I think a good both/and may work better. I think we grow in both the tensions of life and the places of balance. I think part of what Keel may be saying, which I appreciate, is some people lack the willingness to live with the tensions we face in life, thus move to an unbalanced position too quickly, possibly moving to unhealthy extremes, say like fundamentalists for example.

    I think that on this side of the new heavens and earth, we will fluctuate between tension and balance and that only by properly engaging the tensions in life, may we get to balance, but an unwillingness to do so, might lead to imbalance. Which might be why Keel mentions “dangerous peace” and the basic metaphor of dependence.

    Maybe that is part of what it means to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling” yet also experience the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, etc. What says you?

  3. CO Fines says:

    Ah, yes, working out our salvation. The fly in the ointment of Protestantistic justification by faith. Talk about tension! I think you are right in that both tension and balance need to work hand in hand. Even a pew potato needs a certain amount of tension to stay upright.

  4. CO Fines says:

    A footnote on tension from the conclusion of Calvin for Armchair Theologians which notes that a case can be made for movements as wide apart as Christian Feminism and Christian Fundamentalism both being a legacy of Calvin:

    “It might be the case, as some have suggested, that Calvin’s legacy is so complex, even confused, because of the complexity of Calvin himself. On the one hand, he was the humanist who criticized the rigid and lifeless dogma of his time, who counseled flexibility and tolerance, and who argued for an openness to mystery. On the other hand, he was a man fearful of a chaotic age that lacked an organizing structure, a conservative who struggled vigorously to impose order on a disordered world. Calvin was, in a certain sense, a man at odds with himself. Perhaps it is this internal tension that we have to thank for the unruly brood who are Calvin’s surviving heirs.” Pages 171-2.

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