“I bought one for everyone,” our team leader said as she approached the first member of our renewal team with her paper bag filled with polished stones. “Each one has a different word etched in it.” Everyone took a turn. A few didn’t like the first words they got, so they exchanged their choices for another, or switched off amongst themselves.
Change is hard…for even me, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. Some of the changes I've experienced were good, some not so good. The way we are created, though, we are not meant to stagnate. Change is necessary to our lives. Human life is in a state of constant change from birth through death. Perhaps that’s why we don’t like to initiate change-- the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. If we aren’t seeking out opportunities for growth, a different kind of change will come find us, and the results can be devastating. This is true whether we're looking at a specific detail of our individual lives, or those grand issues affecting human development as a whole, or any point in between: friendships, jobs, our health, etc. This includes ministries, too.
How often do you hear "I/we've always done it that way"? If it's simply to see where we've been, that's one thing; but when it becomes conventional wisdom, it is suddenly an excuse to avoid change. We ignore truth and facts, leaving that which we've worked so hard for vulnerable to changes we never saw coming. We should learn our history, but not become history.
If we are to avoid the stench of stagnation in our ministries--or anywhere else for that matter--the continual building of relationships is also vital. If we don't know one another, how can we serve one another? Well-formed relationships with others based on not just our sharing our thoughts, but openly and attentively listening to others and observing them carefully with a heart open to service will increase our capacity to love.
There's that commandment again: "Love one another as I have loved you." It's no coincidence that Jesus' commandment has taken on similar voices as did my CHANGE stone: a reminder, a warning, a directive. Love, after all, requires change of the self. The more we change, the better we love.
Perhaps my CHANGE stone should serve me in the same way as Jesus' commandment now does...as a goal.