Tag Archives: maturity

If It Ain’t Broke… (or Why Change?)

Jj recently asked, “Why change?”  A very good question.  As they say, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” The simple, and maybe obnoxious answer, would be “Why not change?”

So, allow me to begin by suggesting some rather good arguments not to change.  First, keeping things the way they are offers a level of stability for the individual and/or the group. Second, maintaining status quo provides some sense of security.  In an era of constant change and flux (in the West it is at a dizzying speed) security can be a good thing. Every person is different, and therefore there are those, for whatever the reasons, where tolerance for change is extremely low.  They need security for their emotional or mental state.  Third, concurrent with the previous two reasons, no or low change brings no or low stress. Of course I am speaking in relative terms since all of life is stressful to one degree or another. It is the capacity to deal with stress (or more properly stated – distress) that factors in to a person’s or group’s response to change.

There is another reason for not changing things, and that is the benefit(s) of tradition. Much has already been written on the good that tradition brings, so I won’t belabor the point here. Traditions inform and help to form the culture of a group. Tradition not only brings stability, security and a lack of stress to a person or group, but it offers connection to others in the past, present and even into the future. That can certainly be a good thing.

Now, back to the original question:  why change?  First, let me say that the change about which I speak has to do with the life of a person who has a saving faith in the life, death, burial, resurrection of the God-Man Jesus Christ. The God who became man to live the life of purity, holiness and righteousness on our behalf and then died to pay our debt to God so that believers would be made right in time and into eternity with God.  Even more, the change about which I speak has to do with the community of believers called the church.

When talking about change in this context I am presupposing:

1.   Not all change is good. Good change is good. Good change that is defined, described or derived from God’s Word is unquestionably good.

2.   Change is inevitable. However, from our human perspective change can be serendipitous or intentional, incidental or incredibly significant.

3.   Spiritual, social and numerical growth in the life of a person and church requires change.

4.   To get from one point to another necessitates change.

5.   To move from a sinful condition to a glorious one demands change.

6.   True, biblical reform comes through biblical change.

Not all change is good.

Good change is good. Good change that is defined, described or derived from God’s Word is unquestionably good. The history of our U.S. culture is one that reinforces the idea of progress and that all progress is positive.  Yet, as we know, not all progress is beneficial or positive.  I leave it to you to think about all the relatively good things or advances made over the past two hundred years, which have also brought challenges and problems.

For the believer in Christ and the local church, we must be careful to evaluate the “why” of change against the “what” of Scripture. For example, if our personal or corporate worship life is anemic then God clearly demands that to change. If we are being faithful to the Lord in terms of exercising the New Testament “one-another” commands then we ought not to change.  Our starting point and measurement must be what God tells us, not what the latest innovation, scheme, program, method, model, fad or trend says.

Change is inevitable.

However, from our human perspective change can be serendipitous or intentional, incidental or incredibly significant. God did not make a stagnant universe, therefore nobody lives in a stagnant environment. In his providential way, the Potter oversees his creation as it changes (shifting of the magnetic poles, the rise and fall of mountains, the blessing of rain and the curse of monstrous storms, etc.) He also manages the affairs of life from the toss of the die to the rule of dictators. In his redemptive way he is bringing history to its culmination, all in his good time and according to his ultimate design.  God works providentially and intentionally. In fact, God originally designed our planet and the universe to move from one state of glory to another (see below)!

The effect of nature’s activities bring about slight or enormous changes to us. We are more apt to accept natural events that change us than we are to accept intentional change introduced or imposed by others. And, how we perceive the change will impact our response or reaction to it.

In any case, change happens. The real question is not so much “why change” but rather what shall our response be to it?

Spiritual, social and numerical growth in the life of a person and church requires change.

We live in a created world that was intended from the beginning to move from one condition (glory)  to a better condition (glory).  This was even when God declared His original creation as good!

Original man, Adam and Eve, were required to change. How? They were to grow in knowledge of themselves and of God (this was their prophetic function). They were to learn about God, his creation, about self and others by thinking his thoughts about such things.

They were to grow in their relationship to and worship of God. This was part of their priestly function. They were also to grow in their relationship to the rest of creation as they glorified it by ruling over it as faithful and good stewards, and fashioning it according to heaven’s model. This was their kingly function. Through their God-directed and God-anointed labor they were to take the raw materials and re-form them into something beautiful and useful, and presenting the fruit of their labor to God. The moment he began to take care of the garden in the land of Eden, things changed.

As stewards they were to cultivate the earth. As stewards they were to exercise dominion over God’s creatures.  Note that the moment Adam named the animals things changes. They were to be fruitful and multiply, which of necessity breeds change! Even without the introduction of sin and evil, change would have taken place as God’s people would have re-formed creation from one condition of glory to the final consummation of all things in glory.

However, sin brought a different kind of change into the world, reversing that which was good. It corrupted the design for positive and glorious good change into a spiritual, social, and physical entropy.

God’s plan not to be undone, the redemption he brings  causes change in creation, reversing the reversal of sin. The whole point of the Bible is to record this changing dynamic in the universe, a change brought about by God’s recreative and redemptive work through Jesus Christ.

As believers in Jesus Christ and as a local church in Jesus Christ, we are being changed and we must work toward that change from sin to glory.  Granted, it is by God’s Word and Holy Spirit that true, redemptive change takes place. Nevertheless, we are told to deliberately and intentionally labor in God’s saving work as God works in and through us (Philippians 2:12-13). This process of change is, in theological and biblical language, repentance and faith. God desires, expects and demands us to put off the old by repenting and put on the new by faith. This means change.

This God-inspired and God-directed change affects our own and our church’s spiritual and social growth. For the local church this healthy maturity into Christ-likeness means growth, and often, but not always, means numerical growth.

To get from one point to another necessitates change.

This statement should be obvious. But, this statement also begs the question: to what point are we going? What’s the goal?  Ultimately the goal for the believer and the church is a state of Christ-like glory.  If the person or the church is not moving in that direction, then here is a central reason why change is important – it is because change into Christ-likeness is unquestionably necessary!  That is God’s design for us and our final destination. Anything that impedes this must be put aside, removed or destroyed.  Anything that promotes and fosters this must be accepted and employed. This then leads us to and supports the next statement:

To move from a sinful condition to a glorious one demands change.

One of the prevailing themes in the New Testament is that of repentance and faith, going from a sinful condition to that of a glorious one; moving out of the realm of old darkness into the kingdom of God’s marvelous light. To reject this demand for change is to reject Christ.  So, for one example, Hebrews makes plain that an unwillingness to repent, to mature in Christ and to take the pilgrim’s upward path toward that heavenly city will bring about God’s discipline (for true believers) or wrath (for pretenders of faith). 

True reform comes through biblical change.

Since we are called to and designed for dynamic change into Christ-likeness, then change is inevitable and required.  Personal and corporate change as those who believe in and belong to Jesus must and will take place.

This purpose of knowing Jesus Christ is to love him. To truly know him is to love him. to love him is to become and live like Christ. This is transformation and re-formation at its best. Having said this, it must be understood that transforming and reforming people and the church is not the ultimate goal.  The objective is not change for change’s sake. Sometimes we, particularly in the United States, assume that change is what we need – just because it supposedly means progress.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that.

Having been a Christian for forty years I have observed and participated in the numerous programs and models churches have used in order to change, to re-form.  There are a myriad of reasons for adopting and implementing these changes.  We can hear and read compelling arguments, such as “to make a difference in the world,” “to change the world,” “to save the church from impending death,” “to be relevant,” “to grow,” ad infinitum and often ad nauseum.Those reasons are not insufficient, and all too often bring about more harm than good.

That brings us back to the first main point: not all change is good. Good change is good. Good change that is defined, described or derived from God’s Word is unquestionably good.

So, Jj, in answer to your question, Why change?  We are to change personally and corporately because God wants us to change to become more like Jesus Christ.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Change, Healthy church, Pastor & Church Relationship, The Church

Growing as a Man and a Leader in Jesus Christ

God is looking for F.A.S.T. men!

(Faithful –Available – Spiritual – Teachable)

-Anonymous

 

It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguish

leaders from their followers.

 

Take a Test

1.    How vital is growth to a man?  To a leader? To me?

 

2.    I would say that overall, I have grown  (circle one)

very little   –  somewhat  –  more than usual  –  quite significantly in the past year.

 

3.    In what ways have I grown in the following areas of my life in the past year?

a.    Spiritual (relationship with God)

prayer
worship
enjoyment of God
fellowship with God

 

b.    Character (becoming more like Christ)

  • Character of Christ-likeness (see 1 Timothy and Titus)
  • Discipline and self-control
  • Courage
  • Love
  • Attitude and emotionally

 

c.     Comprehension

  • of God
  • of  God’s Word (study, knowledge, memorization)
  • of myself
  • of my area of labor or calling
  • of general knowledge

 

d.    Competency

  • In life skills (wisdom)
  • In my talents and spiritual giftedness
  • In relationships
  • In communication skills
  • As a husband and/or father
  • In my field of labor (professionally)

 

4.    True or false:  I currently have a written plan for personal growth.

 

A Critical Requirement of a Godly Man and Leader is Personal Growth!

 

A.    Defining Growth

1.   Growth is the development and progress toward maturity.

2.   It is expansion, advancement, improvement; increase in capacity, extent or prevalence.

3.   “The capacity of each person created in God’s image to reach far beyond perceived levels of achievement.” (William Vermeulen).

B.  Growth is both necessary and required for a leader

1.  According to the Bible growth is presumed because it is the nature of God’s creation.

a.     What God creates grows. It is a characteristic of creation.

b.      Growth is a characteristic of God’s people.  Summarize what these verses have to say about the subject of growth:

Job. 8:7 – _____________________________________________

Psalm 1   – ____________________________________________

Psalm 92:12 –  __________________________________________

2 Cor. 3:18 – ___________________________________________

 

This is revealed more clearly when we consider all the terms and activities that pertain to the Christian: discipleship, nurture, change, learning, etc.

 

What do the above verses say about you and your growth?

 

 

2.   Death and decay, a result of sin, is abnormal. What is not growing is either dying or dead.

The intentional lack of growth or maturity is repulsive to and rebuked by God. See what God says:

Isa. 28:9 – _____________________________________________

1 Cor. 3:1-2 – ___________________________________________

1 Cor. 14:20 – ___________________________________________

Eph. 4:14 –  ____________________________________________

Heb. 5:12 – ____________________________________________

 

Are you growing as a man or are you dying?

 

3.  God is concerned with the growth of the whole man.

a.   What does 2 Peter 1:3-11 reveal about your growth in Christ?  What does this verse say to you?

 

b.   God’s chosen servants grew physically, mentally and spiritually:

Ex. 2:10-11; Acts 7:20ff  –  __________________________________

1 Sam. 2:26 –        ________________________________________

Luke 1:8   –            ________________________________________

Luke 2:40 cp. 52 –    ______________________________________

2 Cor. 3:18 – you are to grow from glory to glory

 

Are you growing in physical strength and health?  Mentally?  Spiritually?

c.  God calls His people to mental, social, emotional and spiritual growth. In fact, He demands it!

(1)  Spiritual growth will bear a tremendous influence and have a great impact upon you. For example:

Proverbs 9:9   Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

 

Matt. 12:34ff – _______________________________________

 

Mark 7:21-  __________________________________________

 

(2)  God expects and requires you to grow in Christ.  What do each of these verses say to you?

Eph. 3:16-19  –  ____________________________________

Eph. 4:15 – _______________________________________

Col. 1:10 – ________________________________________

1 Tim. 4:15  – ______________________________________

1 Pet. 2:2  – _______________________________________

2 Pet. 3:18 – _______________________________________

The bottom line: at minimum, God’s people are to grow. How much greater the requirement for godly leaders! What’s more, one of the common and significant traits of all leaders is that they are always growing. To be a leader, it is necessary that you grow!

 

C.   Growth is a choice

1.  Healthy, godly men and leaders make a conscious choice to grow, to improve self.

2. Paul B. Thornton in Be the Leader-Make the Difference writes:

Leaders with a continuous improvement mind-set have

  • A strong desire to improve
  • A commitment to candid self-assessment
  • A strong curiosity
  • An ability to learn from both success and failure
  • Non-defensive response to negative feedback
  • A willingness to experiment and try new approaches.

Is your life in Christ, which encompasses everything about you, proactively seeking to grow and improve?  Is your life intentional, purposeful, goal-oriented or is it just riding on the winds and waves that life presents you?

 

D.  Growth is change

1.    Self-development, not self-fulfillment is the focus of growing and godly man.

2.     See Leadership Class: Disciplines of a Godly Man-The methods of discipline to becoming a godly man by this author.

3.     Be aware of the danger stagnation.

 

Three very important things in which a godly man and leader grows:

As a leader, you need at least three things (see Rom. 15:14): character(to be),  comprehension  (to know),and  competency (to do).

1.   Character (to be)

A person of “engraved distinctive quality” who remains steadfast in moral excellence. Lives a praiseworthy life. A person of special quality in whom others willingly place their trust. A person with a controlled mind, will, emotions, attitudes, etc.

Who you are is who you attract; and who you attract will be determined by your character.


2.   Comprehension (to know)

What God wants you to know. Seizing or grasping mentally, and perceiving morally. This requires disciplines study for the gaining of truth and knowledge, and the understanding of the nature, significance and meaning of things; understanding cause and effect, etc.

 

3.    Competence (to do)

This is what God wants you to do. To have the requisite ability to respond to and meet the challenge. To be qualified and faithful. Effective in relationships, communication, performance and delegation. To be able to lead and able to get others to follow.

 

“Choose instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold” (Prov. 8:10) The principle here: “Learn instead of earn” should be one of my life’s priorities!

 

Arenas or Spheres of the Godly Man and Leader’s Life That Must Grow:

1.     Your Spiritual Life (relationship with God)

  • prayer
  • worship
  • enjoyment and fellowship with God

 

2. Your Character – becoming more like Christ at least in these areas:

a.     Character of Christ-likeness (see 1 Timothy and Titus)

b.     Discipline and self-control

c.     Emotionally

d.     Love

e.     Attitudes

(1)  Courage as opposed to fear

(2)  Passion as opposed to apathy

(3)  Hope as opposed to negativity

(4)  Confidence as opposed to doubt

(5)  Humility as opposed to pride

 

3. Comprehension

a.     of God

b.     of  God’s Word (study, knowledge, memorization)

c.     of myself

d.     of my area of labor or calling

e.     of general knowledge

 

Be a continual learner!

Philip B. Crosby says

There is a theory of human behavior that says people subconsciously retard their own intellectual growth. They come to rely on cliches and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their mind runs on idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organizationally, they may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day. But they learn no more.

 

4. Competency

a.     In life skills (wisdom)

Prov. 4:7-8 “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her and she will honor you.”

Prov. 19:18       “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.”

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, in their book Leaders wrote, “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”


b.     In my talents and spiritual giftedness

c.     In relationships

d.     In communication skills

e.     As a husband and/or father

f.      In my field of labor (professionally)

 

5.      A Plan for Personal growth

a.      Make a commitment to personal growth.

 

b.     Develop a specific and written plan for growth. Then prioritize.

(For example, see John C. Maxwell’s Your Road Map for Success)

Note: it will be easier and more successful if you focus and build primarily upon your positive strengths. Then address areas in which you are deficient and in need of change and growth. Choose one significant item in each area with which to begin. Don’t overwhelm  yourself.

(1)  Make a written plan for:

My spiritual life

My character development

My comprehension

My competency

 

(2)  Prioritize

 

c.     Establish habits of successful growth.

Nobody will ever master every area of his life. However, by God, who works in you both to will and to do of His good plan, you can see significant and on-going growth in each area. The mastery will be in the skill and process, not so much in the perfect completion.

 

d.     Find and use resources to help you change and grow in the designated areas.

(1)  Resources, such as appropriate people, books, tapes, magazines, etc.

For example, one man always has five books by his bed or favorite chair, one on each subject in which he is growing. He rarely drives anywhere without listening to a CD on the subject, and always takes advantage of every “free time” (such as waiting at the doctor’s office, or in the airport) to read, study, or review.

(2)  Put yourself in a “training” mindset

(3)  Make the time for personal growth, or life will take your time from you.

 

e.     Create a climate for growth: plan to do each of the following at least once a day for the next month

(1)  Affirm someone else for doing something new that displays a desire for growth.

(2)  Try something you’ve never done so that you’re taken out of your comfort zone.

(3)  Think about a benefit that your current growth plan may give you in the future.

(4)  Find ways to reward and encourage yourself in the areas you are growing

 

f.  Develop relationships with growing people. True success always includes others. Build relationships for growth in the following ways:

(1)  Find a mentor. Name the person you know who is growing and who has the most expertise in the area where you’d most like to grow. Your goal is to develop a win-win relationship with that person.

(2)  Spend time with growing people.

(3)  Pick someone else to mentor. Select a person to help grow…

Note: a great habit to develop is whenever you meet with someone with whom you have a mentoring relationship, always brings something of value to give: a book, tape, article, something you’ve learned, or anything encouraging or instructive.

 

Putting this into practice:

 

1. Would I consider myself a faithful, available, spiritual and teachable man? Why or why not?

 

2.  I would say that I am growing in the following areas of my life:

_____                        Spiritual

_____                        Physical health

_____                        Mental

_____                        Social relationships

_____                        Life skills

_____                        In my area of work or expertise

 

3.   I know that I am growing in this or these areas because:

 

4.   True or false:  I would say that my life is characterized by intentional growth in most or all areas of my life.

 

5.   If I am not intentionally growing, then I am dying on the proverbial vine.  What is keeping me from  growing?  What is hindering me?

 

6.  What does 2 Peter 1:3-11 say about where I am in life right now?

 

 

7.  Which, if any, of the characteristics Paul B. Thornton in Be the Leader-Make the Difference writes about do I have?

_____    Strong desire to improve

_____    A commitment to candid self-assessment

_____    A strong curiosity

_____    An ability to learn from both success and failure

_____     Non-defensive response to negative feedback

_____    A willingness to experiment and try new approaches or new things

 

 

8.  True or false:  I am proactive about growing in

_____            Character of Christ-likeness

_____            Discipline and self-control

_____            Emotionally

_____            Love

_____            Attitudes :

_____      Becoming more courageous as opposed to more fearful

_____      Passion as opposed to apathy

_____      Hope as opposed to negativity

_____      Confidence as opposed to doubt

_____      Humility as opposed to pride

 

9.  True or false:  I am proactive in learning more and more about many and important things in life.

 

10.      True or false:  I am becoming more and more competent in the various areas of my life.  Write down what area(s) and how:

 

11.     I am growing in my spiritual life (write down the following ways):

Prayer    ______________________________________________

Worship  ______________________________________________

Enjoying God   __________________________________________

Fellowship with God  _____________________________________

 

12.   I am growing in knowledge in the following areas:

_____      God

_____       God’s Word (study, understanding, memorization)

_____       Of myself (who I am)

_____       Of my calling or area of labor

_____        As a husband

_____        As a father

 

13.   I am becoming more and more competent

_____                        In life skills (wisdom)

_____                        In my talents and spiritual gifts

_____                        In communication skills

_____                        In my field of labor (professionally)

_____                        As a husband

_____                        As a father

_____                        As a disciple of Jesus

_____                        As a loving servant of others in my church

_____                        As a loving servant to others outside of church relationships

 

14.  My written plan to grow is:

 

 

 

___________

(c) D. Thomas Owsley – All Rights Reserved – from Band of Brothers: Dynamic training for intentional living as a man in Christ.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Church Leadership, Man and Men