The Missing Link: Luke 12:21

Armand Kruger, MA

Overview: some answers to questions like: as Christians, are we asking the appropriate ecology questions? How strong is our position on the essential goodness of God? Do we get sucked in by the slick, quick and efficient character of our methodology as if that is the final answer? What and how do we future pace? Whose success is it anyway?

The birth of this article started for me after having listened to my minister give a sermon on Luke 12:16-21. "And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'. 21 "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (NSAB).

The Outcome and Check:

For me, NLP/NS is in itself a way of thinking about being human. It has a set of presuppositions of what humans are capable of in living their lives meaningfully. NLP/NS has a way of operating through the outcomes we set, and the value/ecology checks which we do, both for ourselves, and for the person whom we work with.

The minister mentioned that in Luke 12:16ff. was a man with a certain view on life. He was successful, as well as "having arrived". In our jargon, this is a man who has achieved his outcome(s) against the standards he set himself. But, imagine, after having done the kind of "magic" we come to take for granted in NLP/NS, this person walks out our door and we should hear the voice of God saying these words about that person, "This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' (Lit.: they are demanding your soul from you). What will you do? How complete would you consider the work which you have just facilitated with this person? For me, I wanted to shout that I will grab the person and ask them, "please tell me, how many times did I mention the name of Christ in connection with your outcome? Are you experiencing your outcome not only as a gift from God, but as a fulfillment of your destiny through your faith in Christ? Am I leaving you with the awareness that Christ is more than part of a technique, that He is your destiny? As you went through my door, were you in prayer, talking with, singing about, and celebrating Christ?" If not, please then forgive me, for I have given you a half a message!

"Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins." - Thomas Brooks

The Second Check:

Then came the next Sunday, and from that sermon I had to ask myself again, on behalf of the next person whom I will be consulting with, "Are you experiencing your outcome not only as a gift from God, but as a fulfillment of your destiny through your faith in Christ? Am I leaving you with the awareness that Christ is more than part of a technique, that He is your destiny? As you go out through my door, will you be in prayer, talking with, singing about, and celebrating Christ?" Why a second time? Because the sermon then was about the implications of accepting that God is good, based on Psalm 100:"1 A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (NSAB).

Did I make this an opportunity to "To Glorify God C Show people who He is and what He is like"? Did I contribute to them wondering "How can I please and honor the Lord in this situation? How can I show what Christ has done for me?" (Peacemaker Manual, @ Peacemaker Ministries, , p11). Will this person want to race away to pray Psalm 100 and others? If "yes", then I can rest assured that when I should hear " "This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?" I will know that I have facilitated an awareness if not the content of the whole story and the Big Romance.

Whose success is it anyway?

When people come to speak with us, their message is clear: "Whatever it is I am trying, or hoping for, is not happening. I consult with you in the hope that you have the answer or the method." But, "this is the story of all our lives, in one way or another. The haunting of the Romance and the Message of the Arrows are so radically different and they seem so mutually exclusive they split our hearts in two. In every way that the Romance is full of beauty and wonder, the Arrows are equally powerful in their ugliness and devastation. The Romance seems to promise a life of wholeness through a deep connection with the great Heart behind the universe . The Arrows deny it, telling us, "You are on your own. There is no Romance, no one strong and kind who is calling you to an exotic adventure." The Romance says, "This world is a benevolent place." The Arrows mock such naiveté, warning us, "Just watch yourself C disaster is a moment away." The Romance invites us to trust. The Arrows intimidate us into self-reliance. (Pp.31 in "Sacred Romance").

The seduction by the slickness, quickness and efficiency of NLP for many years have blinded me to the answer to this question about whose success is it anyway? Until very recently, no matter what my mouth would say, my heart would smile about the elegance of my application of the technique. I would give myself a pat on the back for the neat way I used the language patterns, and did I not do that sleight of mouth like a pro? My first suspicion of another awareness came when I read Sue Knight's book "NLP Solutions" where she pointed out how for a long period in time she was so infatuated with the techniques of NLP that she did not pay sufficient attention to it's applications. Once I started to have this shift in emphasis, the next question that did not want to go away was this one about "whose success?"

The success of NLP lies less with the practitioner and more with the person who actually does the technique! When I teach practitioners in NLP and Neuro-semantics, I stress that the person whom you work with has veto right both on the tempo with which you work as well as the guided process (technique) you select to use in you facilitation. Apart from the technicalities of the person's preferred modality in which they experience their stuck/problem state, and the elected outcome towards which we work, NLP is simply guiding people through what happens in experience, at an experiential level, using techniques about experience. We facilitate the person's recoding of an experience unacceptable to them, with an experiential processes more conducive to their values and outcomes, to a mutually agreed to end-state. When we work with people in the context of rehabilitation from anti-social behavior, the above would read: "We facilitate the recoding of a person's experience unacceptable to society and with penalties to them, using experiential processes more conducive to ecological outcomes and behaviors, to a mutually agreed and-state."

I want to state this categorically: our achievements through the applications of NLP/NS is a statement about what human beings are capable of. NLP/NS benchmarks the time, the experiential method, the possible outcomes for guided change work, and the contribution people can make to their own solutions for living. Further, it's contribution is to replace labeling with modeling: to denominalize, rather than to describe process and structure of experience through a metaphor solidified into an explanation. This is why I think other approaches to change work should take notice of NLP/NS. But, that is only half the good news, because as Christians, that is only half our story. The other half is about our thinking of what is "good" and how to become/get it. God, and His Son, are the quintessence of "good". Any other definition of "good" would be flawed. As a Christian I try to stay aware of my "collateral goodness" through Christ, as well as of the amazing grace through which I may trust the "goodness" promises of God when I work with someone. One such promise is Romans 8:28-29.

"Our best performances are so stained by sin, that it is hard to know whether they are good works or bad works." - CH Spurgeon.

There is another element to our Christian story: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." (1 Cor. 3:6-6; NASB). For me, this meant I also had to answer the question: How strong is my stance on God's goodness? How much is Psalm 100 part of my thinking when I work? My stance on God's goodness determines my frames and their delivery. In the Sacred Romance the authors say on page 82: "It is only when we see God as the Hero of the larger story that we come to know his heart is good." How large are the frames within which I work with the content of the person's story?

Checking for "Good" Outcomes:

My personal (over?) emphasis on ecology checks goes with my love for mutually agreed outcomes. In NLP/NS an ecology check is about whatever outcome the person accepts to be facilitated towards, they check that it is compatible with their highest values and/or identity. Sloppy NLP/NS is like some other "I-am-the-expert-forms of change where, because the helper says it is the best answer, the person will accept that it is the best answer, or otherwise they will be described as 'resistant.'"

I propose that in doing work with Christians, and other people, some of the ecology questions we could ask are:

I have heard it said that my outcome in conflict resolution is not to succeed but to be faithful. I must wonder how this apply to the guided change work I do as a Christian so that I will not be totally seduced by the methodology I use?

Contact information for Armand Kruger:

South Africa's Institute of Neuro - Semantics
Armand Kruger
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
Fax: 2716-362-1559

©2002 Armand Kruger All rights reserved.