Saturday, February 04, 2006

Value Formation and Value Shift

A Talk given at the
Loyola House of Studies
February 4, 2006

All institutions, governments, and churches suffer from problems, crises and decline of some sort, big and small. Albert Einstein said “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We will not solve our problem by insisting on doing the things we have been doing before, just because that is the way we have been doing things here.

We do not wait for the future to come upon us. Rather we create the future and bring it to our present. And how do we do it? We should not be satisfied with “cosmetic changes” or superficial changes, even if they appear good. They are temporary. We need to do some “paradigm shifting” or “values shift.” If you want dramatic and revolutionary transformation either in your person or in the institution or organization, you need to change your perspective, your mindset, your frame of reference, and operate with new set of values. This is called “metanoia”.

My references for this talk are two books: “Values Shift” and “The Genesis Effect” (Personal and Organizational Transformation), both by Brian Hall. This author defines “values” as “the ideals that give significance to our lives, that are reflected through the priorities that we choose, and that we act on consistently and repeatedly” (Values Shift 21). Values are learned, oftentimes unconsciously imbibed, and transmitted. Values are caught and taught. I have been affected, influenced and changed by the values and/or virtues of people who have been in contact with me through the years. In similar ways, my values and/or virtues have also touched other people’s lives. In this sense, values are both tools and goals for social transformation, for the renewal of public life, for the renewal of both church and society.

The research of Brian Hall identifies some 125 distinct values (BH 32). Personal renewal and social transformation would mean the ability to experience a new sense of values by changing or modifying former set of values because they have proven inadequate to face emerging challenges or produced negative results.

There have been identified some eight stages of values formation: 1) safety, 2) security, 3) family, 4) institution, 5) vocation, 6) new order, 7) wisdom, and 8) world order—in that sequence. In each stage there are values that serve as its goals and means to achieve it. The values found in each stage have a corresponding leadership style and organizational development.

Personal renewal and social transformation means going beyond the survival phase of life whose concern is to simply secure ones safely and security with their attendant goals and means. Value-shift would mean here living with a sense of belonging to a family or an institution with their attendan6t goal-values and means-values. Further transformation or renewal would mean entering a still higher phase of life: this involves initiating oneself to participate in the development of one’s vocation (i.e., charism or profession) in view of constructing or renewing the social order. This again requires new meaning and formation of other values. Finally, renewal and transformation leads to learning the values of interdependence which brings the relationship of people on a global scale. This is the stage were values of prophetic wisdom and world order are acquired and developed.

A person’s values, world-view and mindset are indicators of his leadership style. For example: one who is too much concerned with personal safety and security will tend to have values which can develop in him the character of autocratic, authoritarian/paternalist leader, a dictator. Such a leader would like to keep his subordinates poor, dependent and deprived of progress. On the other hand, one whose primary concern is the protection of his family and/or the promotion of some institution, he would have to shed off his authoritarian/paternalist style of leadership and develop the managing, enabling or mentoring style of leadership. As one’s circle of influence widens to include other vocations or services and the prospect of a new social order, the style of leadership shifts to one that is collaborative, participative and service-oriented. Finally, when people become genuinely independent and consequently interdependent, the corresponding style of leadership with focus on communion and harmony will be servant and prophetic (visionary) leadership.

More concretely, how do we envision the Church of the future? How will the Church look in the near future? Karl Rahner, one of the prophetic theologians in his time, more than 40 year ago, envisioning the Church of the future, facing the crisis of the Church in Europe, insisted that the members of the Church would have to be “mystics.” What did he mean? In a world of widespread secularism, consumer materialism, globalization and religious indifferentism, only those could survive in their faith who had a deep personal experience of God and who in their lives could make their experience accessible to a totally secularized world.

Another prophetic theologian, Segundo Galilea, 20 years ago, made a similar observation regarding the future of the Church in Latin America. “The ‘contemplative’ woman or man today is the one who has an experience of God, who is capable of meeting God in history, in politics, in his brothers and sisters, and more fully in prayer. In the future you will no longer be a Christian without being a contemplative and you cannot be a contemplative without having an experience of Christ and his kingdom in history. In this sense, Christian contemplation will guarantee the survival of faith in a secularized or politicized world of the future.” (Galilea, Following Jesus, 1981).

Personal renewal and transformation is possible when the person and the group (congregation or corporation) have the courage to shift from one meaning to a new meaning, to coordinate or integrate their values, and “to jump out of the descending wave to a new wave.” Each style of leadership suits a particular set of circumstances that make that style the necessary style for that given set of circumstances. Any style of leadership is the consequence of values of the individual leader in relation to the corporate (institutional) setting and its membership” (BH 165).

1 comment:

frederic said...

Dear Bishop,

Just want you to know how happy I am reading a reflection from a CBCP president with quotes from Rahner and Galilea, two progressive and treasured theologians of the Church in the modern world. With your reflections, you are indeed projecting a truly prohetic leadership in the Philippine Church at the very context that we are in today.

Mydriad times will I say "thank God!" for giving you to us as the head of the Philippine Church.

In essence, the central thesis of your reflection is "metanoia". A good number of times we hear bishops, priests, deacons, religious, lay people, et al, say that this is what it's all about when we speak of transformation whether personal or social. However, most of them do not explicitly emphasize "kenosis".

Kenosis is the key to metanoia.

Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world." In the way that it was written in Greek, the preposition "of" simply means "not determined by". He did not intend to say that his kingdom is not in this world. The message he is trying to drive home at is that the value system of the kingdom is not determined by the whims and caprices of those who are trying to project and protect the comfort zone of power at all costs, those megalomaniacs. As a Christian, this is for me a very powerful message.

Christianity is a disturbing option. So long as we don't empty ourselves with what we have as our comfort zone, we cannot go into the pilgrimage with the "people of God" carrying with us the Gospel values. The Gospel values have to be lived in the world. This thing disturbs and nags. But this is precisely the challenge of Jesus. "The kingdom is at hand." It is in this world but not determined by the "world".

Emptying (kenosis) ourselves with the standard of greed will eventually lead to a change of heart (metanoia), a comprehensive paradigm shift in values.