I know little about wine…

Sure, I’ve tasted it, but I probably couldn’t tell you whether it is dry or sweet, or has hints of oak or mulberry.

Wine is primarily made from grapes; different varieties bring out diverse flavors. There are unique barrel types and scores of aging methods. One can even earn a graduate degree in wine-making (viticulture)! Who knew?

Jesus seemed to like wine. His first recorded miracle in the gospels was turning water into wine at a wedding. Wine held a central role in Mediterranean culture, and served as the ideal symbol to represent His precious blood in communion. He famously said “New wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Luke 5:38).

Wineskins were animal hides, often goat or sheep, which were removed, inverted, cured and sewn into liquid storage bags. The weight of their contents stretched the skin. To put new wine (especially with active fermentation) in old skins could cause a bag to burst. To patch old leather with new might create uneven wear, rips, and cracks.

So why talk about wine on a leadership blog? Because maybe you’re asking yourself if all this “innovation talk” is merely a business principle.

We suggest that to the same degree that new wineskins were important in biblical culture, they hold equal relevance for leaders today.

Creativity requires fresh perspective. New ideas mandate different processes and structures. New products demand unique materials.

Scripture teems with similar exhortations. Sing to God a new song. His mercies are new every morning. Old things have passed away, behold all has been made new. You’ve heard it said…but I tell you….

An important tension exists, doesn’t it? On the one hand, leaders hold principles we must defend; truths to which we cling. But must we “throw out the baby with the bathwater?”

It is said that the seven last words of a dying church (or organization) are “We’ve never done it that way before.” Innovative leaders must purge these words from their vocabulary. Twenty-first century leadership requires creativity, adaptability, and a surrendering of “the way we’ve done it before.” Values can remain, but delivery methods must be innovated.

What’s one “sacred cow” you’ve defended that might need to be surrendered in the pursuit of innovation today?

Daniel Gluck serves as Lead Faculty for Jessup’s B.A. in Christian Leadership program.