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Secret Sauce

Every leader is seeking “The secret sauce of transformation.” We wonder how it is that while some merely go through life, others grow through life?
Perhaps you’ve seen the adage: Change of Place + Change of Pace = Change of Perspective. However, the more that I ponder the topic I’m convinced there is one more necessary element. In what I see and have experienced myself, a radical change of perspective almost always happens in the context of community. Leaders crave community but rarely experience it. We all need other people to sharpen and deepen us. Here’s how it goes:
  • “Change of Place” involves an actual location. We all need occasional breaks from the familiar. No matter how much we enjoy our comfortable surroundings they rarely produce fresh discoveries. For groups like the ones I have facilitated and enjoyed, that place typically happens in regular retreats to the holy ground and beauty of Breckinridge, Colorado. (It pays to have friends with “high places!”)
  • Change of Pace” involves deliberately choosing to be still. Some people actually fear stillness. Many allow their days to be filled with unceasing noise from beginning to end. In our semi-annual soul care retreats the guys regularly “take two.” That’s the simple discipline of periodically enjoying two minutes of silence even as we sit in a circle of other highly verbal leaders. That is just one of the ways that we each learn to slow down and listen in order to go deeper.
  • Change of People” involves allowing yourself to enter into the inner world of others and allowing them to enter into your own. That’s a scary place for some that requires courage. As Brene Brown has written, the prefix “cor” of our English word “courage” springs from the Latin word that means speaking one’s mind by sharing all of one’s heart. Few of us need to be surrounded by more people, what we really need is to surround ourselves with the right people. 
Let’s face it, we were designed for more than non stop frenetic activity and countless casual interactions. We were created to enjoy life in community. Not just surface interactions but in-depth connections. These sorts of experiences almost only happen intentionally. Someone has to seek them and someone has to facilitate them. And that person could be you!
I’ve been trying to crack the code of transformation for decades. Now I see that transformation can’t be reduced to a rigid formula or a certain helpful resource, not even a best selling book of Bible based devotions. What we all need is to slow down and embrace a process. That process involves:
Change of Place + Change of Pace + Change of People = Change of Perspective.
The missing element in spiritual transformation for many, even for many in Christian leadership, is life with the right people. We all need to encircle ourselves with a core of healthy others who are actually seeking the best for themselves and for us! Both are vital. Many say that they want the best, but their lives give no evidence of actually seeking the best. That doesn’t happen easily or automatically, we all need help.

  • We need help moving from casual interactions to in-depth relationship.
  • We need help moving from head land to heart land.
  • We need help moving from just another beneficial study to memorable moments.
  • We need help moving from endless sports talk or shop talk to life on life soul talk.
I’ve been privileged to invest my life with dozens of gifted men on the grow. Without exception these guys have been amazed by how quickly they have gone to greater depths of conversation, connection and discovery than they ever imagined. I’ve tried to narrow it down to the one key element, but I can’t. That would be sort of like identifying the one key element in a great sauce or stew. It isn’t just one thing, rather it’s the combination of several things.
Change of Place + Change of Pace + Change of People = Change of Perspective. As you ponder the formula, which one, or ones do you lack in your life? Now, what might you do about it? 

Grace and Peace,
Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Soul Care Covenant Groups
The Center for Church Leadership