Costa’s Blog 2017-07-25T13:44:25+00:00



In reviewing everything we wanted to be included in this new web site, I of course read our Vineyard story again, and tweaked the way we express our identity and vision to adapt to changing times, culture and idiom. Which got me thinking about that particular “radical middle” – how we may hold the tension between constancy and adaptability, foundations and function, faithfulness and flexibility.

The poet/songwriter of our hippie days (the 1960’s), Bob Dylan, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016. I remember grooving (that was our word!) to his music, all of us glorying in youthful vision, zeal and strength, protesting for our place in the sun, our day at the steering wheel. His song “The times they are a-changin’”, looking at all the institutions of society in turn, had the refrain at the end of each verse:

“Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’”

“For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’”

“There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’”

“Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’”

“And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’”

All of which proved to be true as the world experienced major changes in family life, political loyalties, sexual mores, and racial justice (well, in the USA, although it took us another 30 years to catch up in South Africa!), to name a few. They were changing times then, and of course are even more so now, because then there was no worldwide web, so that the phenomenon of the global village was embryonic and limited, whereas today everyone lives in it. Whatever changes have happened, while we are describing them new ones are happening!

Although it sounds a bit oxymoronic to say, the fact is that change is a constant, because people come and go, culture and context shift, and we have to change or adapt to changing conditions on a daily basis. And more importantly, leaders rise, and the vision of the future they bring rises with them. The longer they stay, the more of their vision takes form and substance. Leaders are to be change agents, as well as guiding their followers through the turbulent waters of change. So, how are you doing as a leader in the midst of change, and sometimes in “being the change you want to see”?

There is a good leadership lesson in 1Chronicles 12:32, we read of “(Leaders from) the tribe of Issachar, (who) kept up-to-date in their understanding of the times and knew what Israel should do.” The text suggests that our job as leaders is to be constantly scanning our world in the following ways: understand or discern the times (context scan); establish the scope of our responsibility (influence scan with “Israel” in mind – not just my tribe but the wider group I am a part of); decide on the preferable future I see and want for those I lead (future scan); and then invite, inspire and GO there with them!

You can do it, because of who you are, what you have received, and who you’re following. Our leader is Jesus, who is at the same time constant of character “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) while He is versatile of strategy, “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). He is still leading every individual follower, negotiating every bump and dip in the road you’re on and saying “watch your step here, step around this rock, mind the donga!” He sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), knows the way that you are taking (Job 23:10), and is constantly whispering in your ear: “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). These texts are the constants I have depended on, and been anchored by, for 50 years, from when Dylan was a rookie!

For your life, your church and your leadership, while the times are a-changin’, the Lord of history has got it in hand, and invites you, through Him, to discern the times, take refreshment for the journey, set your compass, and GO, in the certainty of the fact that He will finish what He started in and through you!

Costa Mitchell

Office: (+27-21) 7121619