Lately I’m having trouble with change. As one well-practiced in transformation, I wonder whether change per se is being over-sold just a bit.
It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago, I learned from effective leaders and wise older mentors how change can (and cannot) happen. I’ve experienced change throughout my life. pursuing about a dozen careers, relocating to eight different parts of the country and persevering through life-changing medical conditions—all of these inviting extensive personal adjustments. During my entire work life, I’ve studied and written about radical reformation of the church. With others, I’ve developed and led large-scale programs that re-imagined congregational identity and purpose. At this stage in life, I mark with gratitude the changes that the Spirit has worked in and through me.
What brought me up short about change? I’ve seen too many institutional reinventions of the Church—some even promoted by me—end up as train wrecks. So I’ve gone from thinking of myself as an ecclesiastical change agent to realizing why there might not be any such thing.
I don’t believe that my current hesitation to accept change as Gospel is some kind of character defect. And I don’t think that my caution comes from being older. What gives me pause is that some change-encouragers lack full historical background about what has already been changed. That they sometimes chase their whims without an accurate assessment of the current state of affairs, or the long-term effects of the changes they advocate.
I could change my mind again if I saw humility in those who constantly pursue change. If they showed appreciation for ancient wisdom. Or if they sought hopeful, helpful testimonies regarding change from veterans of change.
And yes, I could be wrong about all of this….
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