Managing Tension

July 24, 2013 — Leave a comment


There are some questions with only one correct answer.  For example, how much is 4 + 4?  There is only one correct answer and it would be 8.  Who was the first president of the United States?  Again, there is only one correct answer.

But there are other questions with more than one correct answer and it takes wisdom to answer and act accordingly.  For example, in a friendship should I pay attention to myself or to my friend?  There is not one correct answer to this question.  Pay attention only to yourself and your friendship fizzles.  Pay attention only to your friend and you fizzle.  The correct way to answer the question and respond to the situation is not look for the one answer/response but manage the tension between two or more appropriate responses.

Managing tension is needed in your personal world, in your business world and in your spiritual life.  Managing tension is when you stop looking for the “one right answer/response” to complex and multi-faceted situations and wrestle with the polarities.  In the business world it’s called “polarity management” and one business writer refers to it as the “genius of the AND.”  Either/or thinking is very appropriate on dilemmas that require one correct response.  But there are some situations where both/and responses are available and the best response depends on the situation at that time.

There are several areas of spiritual and theological tension, such as, Divine election and free will, assurance and warning, judging wisely and not judging at all, the kingdom of God is here and the kingdom of God is not fully here, and, when it comes to maturing in Christ, the tension of “let go and let God and make every effort to nurture your own faith.  These and other topics aren’t puzzles to solve but tensions to manage with situational wisdom.

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