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When you find yourself sidetracked or shipwrecked: expect difficulty, exercise leadership, and express faith.


There’s a little acronym that’s become common in managerial circles—VUCA, which stands for “Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.” The US Army War College first introduced the concept to describe the new realities after the Cold War ended.

VUCA refers to the perfect storm of circumstances of life that sometimes strikes individuals, families, and churches. It’s what happens when you face a string of complicated and ever-changing “unknown unknowns.” Or as an article in the Harvard Business Review put it, VUCA is a catchall phrase for “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”

Have you ever been trying to achieve something good and God-honoring, only to find yourself swirling around in the VUCA? Have you ever been trying to get somewhere you know God wants you to go, only to find your plans sidetracked or your dreams shipwrecked?

A sidetrack is when life takes you on a detour you didn’t anticipate, and it isn’t on the way to where you’re trying to go. Sidetracks aren’t necessarily bad but can be perplexing and frustrating. A shipwreck is when life crashes your plans or dreams on the rocks, and all you can do is pick up the pieces. Shipwrecks are painful and scary, and you wonder, “Okay God, what now?”

My friend Ryker graduated college last year, got married to his sweetheart, and moved to another state to take a new job. He was so excited by how well his life was going. Only once he started work at his new job in his new state, he found out it wasn’t anything like what he had been told it would be; it wasn’t anything like what he expected or wanted or was good at. So much so that when he got downsized just ...

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David Ward is Pastor of Teaching Ministries for New Hope Church in Greenwood, IN.

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