“We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.”
~ Edmund Burke (18th century Irish statesman & philosopher)
If I donned a sandwich board and walked the sidewalks proclaiming “The End is Nigh!” I wonder how many people would believe me. Now?
Last Sunday I heard sermons from two pastors. One on each coast. The first, an aging boomer and the second, an aging Millennial. Both had similar messages: 2021 isn’t going to be better just because that’s our annual platitude. In fact, they both prophesied, “It’s likely to be worse than 2020.”
Now, nobody wants to hear that.
We all want to slam-dunk last year into the “pit of forgetfulness,” or the “ash-dump of history.” Pick your metaphor. But please, whatever you do, let’s never re-live those 365 days!
The gnawing question here is, if 2021 is more of the same, or some terrifying new plague we must face, what does that mean? Sounds like more change to me, and we all have very different responses to change.
That thought awoke a string of leadership issues and questions. Starting with the oft-ignored feelings we have about leadership changes. Don’t our emotions always seem to range between extremes: “About time! That _____ should have been gone a verrrry long time ago,” to “OMG, now what will we do? We can’t survive without _____!”
First, are you a change-hater or do you run toward it? Head-in-the-sand avoider or a chin-up-this-will-be-great optimist?
Here’s a no-brainer headline. Our nation is living through a momentously rocky transition at the highest level. I’ve read so many strong and well-written articles this week about the tragedies (yes, plural) plaguing our nation. And I’m grateful we can publish our thoughts and concerns. But so far, I haven’t seen one on the process of change itself.
I’m not talking about the political process. About amendments enacted or executive executions.
No, herein I hope to make a few arguments on behalf of change itself and offer a few suggestions to help us navigate an ever-changing future.
Let’s deal with our elephant in the room first: Why we dislike change so much? I’ll suggest a few possibilities:
· We most often hate change that is thrust upon us without benefit of our input
· Many of us already feel overwhelmed and anxious. Change exacerbates our fear of an unknown future and,
· At least the status quo is a “known” (“better the devil you know…”)
· The new risks associated with change are daunting; what if this changes only makes things worse?
So, where is God in the change?
True North Leaders harken to one of our favorites, “I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6)
Good start. And then throw in for good biblical measure, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
But as we all know from experience, everything else changes all around us with spinning rapidity.
How can the True North Leader thrive in change? Please consider these possibilities:
· First, don’t fear the future. Be strong in the Lord. Meditate on the Ephesians 6:10 prescription. This exhortation precedes the quintessential preparation for thriving in a changeable world–donning the full armor of God. Meditate on this passage and let it soak deeply into your soul (mind, will and emotions).
· Never more true than today, find and live in a thriving Christian community. Surround yourself with others who know truth and use it as a powerful plumb line to discern the times (change). And commit to living authentically with those in your sphere.
· Challenge yourself to renew the spiritual disciplines: prayer, immersion in the Word of God, fasting and more.
· Pray for wisdom as you engage the changing culture around you. But do engage! Your voice is important.
· Finally, resist the urge to see anyone who disagrees with you as the enemy. Learn to value and appreciate others’ points of view, and to love as Christ loved (Ephesians 5:2)
In subsequent blogs, I hope to dig deeper into the dynamics of change. But for now, I encourage you to recognize the inevitability of change, the constancy of your faith in True North, and to re-read the end of the book-we win!