Fear, Threats, and Paranoid Opportunity

December 7, 2005 by

The latest issue of Business 2.0 extracts “golden rules” from business big shots. One such example is from Andy Grove, former chairman and CEO for Intel. He quipped that only the paranoid survive. A self-proclaimed chief “paranoid” officer, Grove is a big believer in Murphy’s Law–if it can go wrong, it will. This translates into an advantage for Grove, as he uses his paranoia to predict and predicate the impending future looming around the corner.

I started thinking about current industries that are grappling with their uncertain futures. Often the paranoia comes from the threat of new industries that can topple established paradigms. Think 1980s deregulation, when the tel-com industry meant the end of Big Bell.

I am surprised at how many industries seem to be missing the real threat. It’s as if they are sidetracked or focused on the wrong fear or fears. Consider:

  • Traditional radio is concerned with the increasing popularity of satellite radio. I think I would be more concerned with the competition from cell phones. More people are using their cell phones when driving than listening to satellite radio.
  • For the last 50 years, America has been more concerned with a nuclear war than a suicide bomber. We spent billions on a war that never happened (and probably won’t) and never thought about the person who could disrupt our lives and bring more terror with a backpack and a bomb.
  • The media industries are afraid of illegal file swapping of their songs and shows, as they don’t want to miss out on all the revenue they’re supposedly missing out on. Are they missing the bigger picture that perhaps if they focused on producing the content and letting the market dictate delivery, that people will pay? People will figure out a way to steal whatever they want to steal, which they’ve been doing for thousands of years. I’d focus more on the people who will pay.

    What does this mean for your church? Let’s stop fearing the obvious or the inevitable, and begin or continue stewarding the opportunity. Small churches fear not being big enough to support themselves; big churches fear not being able to sustain themselves. Progressive churches fear being just another cog in the system (progressive + time = contemporary), traditional churches fear being disconnected from reality.

    In all of this, let’s not forget that people are leading busier lives than ever before, we are working for more but asking for less, and we’re wondering what Church (big C) is all about in this context.

    As first century Publilius Syrus said, “What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.”

  • Post By:

    Brad Abare


    Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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    One Response to “Fear, Threats, and Paranoid Opportunity”

    • Ann
      December 7, 2005

      It’s your second to last paragraph that should remind churches that within all this change that’s going on, we have no need to fear – God is the ultimate response to lives that are busy, wondering and scared.
      Still, though, churches are so scared of the future. I wonder what it would look like if somehow we were able to “fear not.”



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