Thursday, November 21, 2013

Challenges of Change

Like the relentless, always changing waves of the sea,
everyday life and work are subject to constant change.

How do you react to change? Does it make you excited, eager to tackle the new and unfamiliar? Does it fill you with dread, terrified by what lies ahead? Or do you respond, “Well, it depends – what kind of change are we talking about?”

In Leaders Legacy, the organization I work with, we use a motivational assessment tool, the Birkman Method, a great help with leaders we are coaching and mentoring. One of the key components the Birkman identifies is how much change people want and can manage effectively.

Some people have a strong need for change. They find repetitive routines despiriting and energy draining. From their standpoint, the more change the better. Other people, however, aren’t fond of change. In fact, some resist it in all forms. Slight alterations to their work environment, a store closing at their local mall, or even moving the furniture around at home, can be disconcerting.

Most of us probably fit somewhere in the middle. Variety is the spice of life – as long as it’s not too spicy, right? And in reality, change is a lot more palatable when it’s on our terms, or at least we feel we’ve had input into what changes are made, and how.

But love it, like it or hate it, change is here to stay. The saying used to be that there are two certainties in life – death and taxes. Now there’s a third – change. Whether it’s technology, the economy, political trends, the weather, sports, or society in general, change is the only constant.

Ecclesiastes 3 starts with the declaration, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (verses 1-4). If those words sound familiar, most were part of a rock song in the ‘60s, “Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds.

Time’s relentless march ages our bodies, turns babies into children and then adults, wears out our clothes, and brings decay to our cherished machines. As soon as we grow accustomed to anything, it changes. It seems like spring was just yesterday, and today we’re in the midst of autumn. Before you blink your eyes, winter will be here.

Don’t you sometimes wish we could slow down change? Wouldn’t it be nice if some things never changed? We’re hard-pressed to find much in the natural world that doesn’t change, but in the spiritual realm we’re assured we can trust in a faithful, unchanging God.

“I the Lord do not change,” He declares in Malachi 3:6, and Hebrews 13: 8 promises, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

What does this mean for us? When we read God’s promises to His people, we can trust those promises will be fulfilled for us – just as they have for believers through the centuries. He offers us grace, love and mercy, and won’t withhold them because He’s changed His mind.

And as we look beyond this life toward the life to come, we can anticipate what Jesus assured His followers 2,000 years ago: “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

If you were on a boat in the midst of a storm, it would be very reassuring to know the vessel was securely anchored. With Christ – in the midst of change, turmoil, even distressing circumstances – we have that anchor, unaffected by the howling winds and crashing waves we might be forced to confront.

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