Having done my undergraduate work in chemistry I am always interested in science. Being a pastor I have an extreme interest in theology. Amazingly, I find these two seemingly unrelated fields cross paths frequently. This week I stumbled across Evisaging, a blog by Todd Wilson. He made a post regarding Christian leadership (found here)and its connection to the fission process in a nuclear reactor. I found his five points of comparision extremely interesting to think through.
If we were to look inside two different reactors — one that is subcritical and one that is supercritical — we’d see the following common elements:
- uranium fuel – the substance from which latent energy is transformed to active. No fuel, no transformation. Higher concentration and increased uniform distribution of fuel throughout the core enhances criticality. In our lives, the uranium fuel is analogous to God. The greater his presence throughout all aspects of our lives, the greater our impact for him. The capacity for transformation through him is more than we can imagine just as the total energy stored in a nuclear reactor is hard to grasp.
- neutrons – the catalyst for transformation by splitting uranium atoms and releasing huge quantifies of energy. More neutrons productively encountering the fuel equates to more fission. In our lives, the neutrons are analogous to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The greater our reliance on and submission to the working of the Spirit in our lives the greater our impact for God.
- impurity material – structural and other impurity materials that hinder the fission process by “distracting” neutrons from the fuel and limiting the effectiveness of neutrons in converting latent to active energy via the fuel. In our lives, impurities are the sin that so easily entangle, that limit the power of the Holy Spirit to work and catalyze change in our lives, and that limit our transformation to become more like Jesus. Our unrepented sin limits the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us for 100X impact.
- reflector material – materials that seek to keep neutrons actively in the core where it can interact with uranium. The reflector provides boundaries that help keep the neutrons concentrated where they are intended. In our lives, the reflector is like the Spiritual disciplines of Bible Study, Fasting, Prayer, and Devotion that keep us centered on God; disciplines that position us to join God in the calling and plans he has for us.
- control rod material – inserted and withdrawn from the reactor to control the neutron population and the rate of fission. The “safest” place for the control rods is fully inserted into the reactor. However, much like the one talent man who buried the talent, you simply can’t get a God-sized return on control rods that are fully inserted. Want to increase criticality, you MUST withdraw the control rods. In our lives, the control rods are analogous to our faith; to the risks we take in stepping out of the boat for Jesus. In the parable, its the risk the five talent leader takes for his master in earning five more.
In every nuclear reactor all five of these characteristics are present. The difference is the size and how these five characteristics function. If one doesn’t function as well as it should, or if there were a lot of impurities, then the amount energy created by the reactor decreases. If we as leaders are not utilizing these five principles in our lives then our effectiveness as leaders decreases, regardless of how many talents or how large our platform is.