Substance and Form

I recently found a quote by Dee Hock the founder and CEO of Visa. There are many quotes from him that I like. I have listed them below. You can also read a Q & A from him on where he discusses the idea of “Chaordic” leadership.

Here’s the quote:

“Substance is enduring, form is ephemeral. Failure to distinguish clearly between the two is ruinous. Success follows those adept at preserving the substance of the past by clothing it in the forms of the future. Preserve substance; modify form; know the difference. The closest thing to a law of nature in business is that form has an affinity for expense, while substance has an affinity for income.”

I think what this quote makes me think of most is the struggle that churches find themselves in. We have a truth, the Truth, that is unchanging. He left the proclamation of His message to the church. The problem is that although the Church won’t be overcome, we tend to get stuck in ruts of form. If the proclamation of Jesus’ message works, we tend to bottle it and hold on to that form for the life of us and sometimes the life of a church little “c”.

We must hold onto Truth, Jesus, for the life of us and change our form for the life of reaching others with Jesus’ message.

This is so much more difficult than mere words in a blog. But right now as we reach out to our community from a fresh beginning I am aware of how easy it would be for us to find ourselves 10 probably 5 years from now trying to proclaim the same Truth, with an outdated ineffective form.

We have committed to not do that… I think being aware of the tendancy is a good first step.

Off the subject of my post… Dee Hock never used his credit card to purchase something he didn’t have the money in the bank to pay for… so I’ve read. A good practice to commit to I think.

Now some of his other quotes…

“Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.”

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a room packed with archaic furniture. You must get the old furniture of what you know, think, and believe out before anything new can get in. Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.”

“Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength. It is idiotic to replicate your weakness. It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgment are radically different from yours. It is also rare, for it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom.”


Posted on February 27, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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