Applying Jim Collins’ 5 Stages of Decline to Today’s Culture
I think you’d agree that every generation and culture, from the time of Christ, right up to where we are living today, has experienced serious problems because of the sin and chaos in the world. Cultures seem to grow, die off, grow and die off again because of sin.
Jim Collins, a Stanford professor and business consultant wrote several books, one of which is How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, published in 2009. In reviewing it for this lesson, I believe it is even more relevant today of what’s happening, not just in the business community but across our culture.
God will lead us through whatever is going on in our culture and world today, so we have no reason to fear. But I want to share five things Collins talks about in his book of how businesses get into trouble and how applicable it is to our families and society in general today.
- Hubris Born of Success
The word hubris means there’s an overconfidence – a sense that our culture is immune from what the rest of the world is facing.
In this book Collins says, “Great enterprises can become insulated by success.” And in the place of “great enterprises,” we can also say “Great families,” “great cultures” or “great times in history” can become insulated by success.
God has blessed America as a culture. And I think that this principle certainly is applicable. It’s the truth that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More
For the most part, our culture is not satisfied with God’s intention for humanity, for family and for life. We want more. We want to change the definition of gender. We want to be able to create over $30 trillion in debt and say, “That’s okay.” We want the opportunity to abort babies because they’re going to be a problem to someone.
This is the culture in which we live.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV). And yet church attendance is down; respect for religious leaders is down and appreciation for the family is down.
3. Denial of risk and peril
Collins said, “Leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data and put a positive spin on ambiguous data.” They “explain it away.”
Isn’t that what we’ve done? We’ve explained away the sin around us and the decay of our culture. We try to explain away what’s happening instead of stopping and saying, “We are at a point of risk in our culture.” Scripture forewarns us that in the last days we’re going to see what we see today.
4. Grasping for Salvation
Collins says they look for “common saviors” – something that’s going to save their business.
People are thinking money is going to save them from the problem, perhaps entertainment or maybe the next political leader or movement is going to make a difference. But we know that ultimately, as followers of Christ, it’s going to be much more than any of those things as we continue to see the decay in our culture.
5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Collins said, “Leaders abandon all hope.” And it’s no accident that the thing you hear us say on the radio throughout the day is, “We’re here to help you experience hope!”
Our culture goes through these cycles, and that’s why it’s important now more than ever to be intentional in this world.
This is what we’re facing as we go out into our culture every day. So the questions to ask ourselves:
- How are we to behave?
- How are we to live?
- How can we stand intentionally firm in this world in which we’re living today, to not only experience the hope for ourselves, but to be able to share it with others?
In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series of blogs, we’re going to look at those questions and I’ll share 5 anchors to help you live intentionally.