I recently heard a fantastic quote that has been turning over and over in my mind:
“The pain of staying the same has to become greater than the pain of change.”
I’ve seen this quote attributed to many people, so I’m not sure who to credit for this brilliant statement. Regardless, it’s a thought that has truly absorbed my mind on so many levels!
I’ve slowly added weight over the years. My days of rigorous activity, sports and an active lifestyle were overtaken by sedentary work (locked in an office editing for days later transitioned into being stuck in front of a computer and phone). My eating habits, too, changed and I went for easy instead of healthy. I’ve tried the diet/workout thing in the past, but because I didn’t really want to change (I wanted the results, but not the work), I didn’t change.
The pain of staying the same finally hit me. I don’t like it. I don’t want it and, finally, I’m motivated to do something consistently about it. I don’t need to crash diet or workout like a madman to see change. It will happen when I have the discipline and consistency to do something long enough to cause change. Much thanks to my bride, Babs, for getting us both into a pattern. She started first and I’m motivated to do this with her.
At the same time, I’ve been looking, listening and learning, as I need to change my business model. I love helping churches. LOVE IT. But the model I’ve been using isn’t getting the results I need. So, now that the pain of staying the same is unbearable, I’m forced to make radical change. Where I was caught napping was in the belief that making small course adjustments and being proactive would yield change. Tweaking isn’t change. Change is all-encompassing and I failed to go that far.
Hopefully the Lord will lead me to the right kinds of change in strategy and direction or He’ll simply open another door. I’m not the only one going through this right now, so it’s helpful to see and be motivated by others that I admire as we all try to change and help each other.
Lesson: Change by myself is usually inadequate. When someone else changes with me, I have more motivation.
Dr. Sam Chand, in his book “Ladder Shifts” tells us that leaders often stop leading because the pain of change becomes personally too difficult. Often, the most difficult changes are those of personnel. Dr. Chand points out that leaders put a glass ceiling on their growth when the pain of removing, demoting or even firing a close co-woker – often a friend after years of work – is too great. So, instead of making the hard choice (what leaders must do to be a leader), they opt for the lack of growth to maintain their relationships.
I’ve had to fire people before. Usually, it sucks. In most cases, making these hard choices are done to help both the person being removed as well as the organization. In the world of ministry, this can be especially hard. Firing shouldn’t be ugly. It should be full of grace and compassion and honesty. Being truthful about the lack of results from the person in question will help them know what not to do in their next job. Help them succeed later on by giving them the plain truth about why they’re being let go. If possible, help them find a fit that works within their abilities and talents.
I wonder how many churches are stuck because the pain of change (making hard personnel choices for the greater good of the organization) is greater than the pain of plateau or even decline?
Lesson: Let go with love, but be willing to let go.
As a follower of Jesus, I have to do one of the most basic and difficult things: example Jesus. It’s hard to change when my soul (mind, will & emotions) is in battle with my Spirit. Our soul is selfish. It must learn to submit to the Spirit. Here’s what Psalm 131:2 says:
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
In the same way that we have to change from what we know and like (much the same as a child feeding on milk), we must wean our souls to submit to the Spirit, for that is what is best for us long-term. What I think (my mind), what I feel (my emotions) and what I do (my will) must not stay in control. Die to self. Lay down my life. Turn the other cheek. All of these are counter-intuitive to my soul!
The psalmist, David, talked to his soul quite a bit. Do not be cast down. Straighten up. Be quiet. Bless the Lord. It is a continual, consistent work of submitting our way (soul) to His way (Spirit).
The result? Spiritual Fruit that comes from a soul being continually weaned and a transformation that produces mature results.
Lesson: The change from my way of thinking, believing and acting requires a daily decision to do things God’s way, even when I don’t want to.
All three types of change require a personal commitment. All three require consistency. And they all start with a choice to compare where we are to where God wants us to be. Change IS painful; the key is to make the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of change.
As I am living through a season of pain & growth, I am finding that the pain of staying the same really has become greater than the pain of change. Hopefully, I’ll be able to look back and see just how “worth it” it was to make some hard changes.
What say you?