Personalities - Most people say change is a good thing and that it’s good to get a fresh view or perspective on things. Some personality types thrive on it and can’t live without a lot of it. Like the seasons, the weather, fashion and the times, it is normal for things to come and go and that’s what change is. Like Bob Dylan famously sang, ”The times they are a ‘changin”…. Other personality types resist it because to them it means they can’t count on things they depend on. When tried and true areas they relied on in their life are gone, like friendships, a good job or even a familiar store or website they liked is suddenly gone, it can be a crushing experience for certain kinds of people.
Politics - Barack Obama was elected 8 years ago as the country faced an economic crisis on a promise of hope and change, promising to end the Iraq war, broaden access to health care and change the way Washington works. He said, “not red or blue states but the United States!” Of course as we now know, little of that change ever happened and instead, he enacted changes that created great insecurity for much of the country. Closed factories with good jobs lost, mid-east chaos with a refugee crisis caused by his CIA-led Arab Spring, homegrown terror, racial riots and a loss of a national identity were created with his “change”. So this led to the rise of Donald Trump, who basically promised he would stabilize and restore America. 8 years later we see Obama was largely elected out of idealism for a post-racial US. Trump was elected due to worries people had over a languishing economy, a need for competence, pragmatism and a restored US created by Obama.
Change can be good but change just for the sake of change can be disastrous. Many people threaten their happy lives because they think they’re not happy enough so they long for change, any change. Convinced they are shouldn’t be content they opt for a change. Singles sometimes want a change from the single life they are living so they marry the first person that comes along and is really interested in them. This might end up being a huge mistake.
Being a pastor over the years I have witnessed many people so desperate to change something in their lives they destroyed a good marriage, ended lifelong friendships, robbed people of their retirements, split churches and bankrupted businesses. The fruit of a “change to get something needed” led to catastrophic consequences not just for themselves but those around them. Violation of promises made and oaths given for some kind of short-term gratification are all too common. Sometimes fear and desperation move people to make decisions that can rarely be undone.
Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change.
Psalms 15:4-5 He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.He who does these things shall never be moved.
The second passage above actually equates some change as compromising your word, akin to corruption for the sake of personal gain.
Business - On Wall Street what investors look for is stability and consistency. Change and unexpected events scare the market because many transactions require a commitment that lasts a long time like 10 YR T-bills or mortgages. If your lender on your home mortgage came to you in a year or two after buying a home and said, “I changed my mind about your mortgage, I now want you to pay me 10 % instead of 4%. Sorry it’s not personal, but business.” You would freak out. Stability in agreements is needed.
Harvard business review did a study and found the vast majority of people have legitimate reasons to be resistant to change in 10 different areas. Sometimes the people don’t want change they want options or something different. Businesses have to move rapidly to adapt but most have has found if companies bring about changes too quickly, even really good ones, they can lose business and customers. So in the area of business many changes happen behind the scenes and out of sight. Too many visible changes that adversely affect people’s sense of comfort are harmful.
Some people get bored without change and would rather die than not change. Helpful change for the sake of resolving lingering problems is good and necessary. Mow that yard! Reorganize and edit that basement! Get a better job! Go back to school! But making foundational changes to your life without wisely considering how it will affect other things can cause you to waste valuable time and ruin valuable relationships or even your marriage. So before you throw out the baby to get rid of that dirty bathwater you can’t stand, determine if that the changes pass these tests:
1) Consider the short and long-range consequences.
Is it a cosmetic change like a coat of paint? or is it foundational, like digging up your home’s slab to expand or change a room? You should count the cost of any decision or it could cost you a wasted 2 years. Luke 14:28-30 tells us we must consider the cost.
2) Determine what is valued and precious and what is not. Proverbs 6 describes the passing pleasures of a night of adultery then the horrible consequences in people’s lives later.
3) Determine the consequences on all of your relationships. I have watched as people have walked away from wonderful relationships in churches because of an arrogant dispute over a point of view they don’t even remember years later. Community and family trumps doctrinal purity.
4) Will this change bring about more love, joy and righteousness, more godly character in me and others? Will I walk in peace because of it? Or is this a self-centered trip to make myself feel relief awhile? Relief isn’t peace and an absence of the cause of stress doesn’t ultimately remove the stress. “Why does this stress me?”, is the question to ask myself. A lot of people who lack peace, try to avoid things that bring a lack of peace, editing things and even people out of their lives. Yet sooner or later they will find peace only comes out of their being at peace with God. Changes that any of us make to avoid God’s dealings with us will fail. Don’t waste years finding this out.
5) Finally, does this change violate my conscience, the Word of God or ethics? Over the years I have watched as people justify doing the craziest things to change something that bothered them in their life. Desperate, they break a covenant they made with God to get “relief”? Are they robbing others because they made unwise financial decisions? Short-term inconvenience to be a person of your Word is more important than getting relief now! Scripture is especially clear: to defraud someone financially, emotionally or relationally is dishonest and serious to the Lord.
Changes can be really good but we should make sure we don’t change or compromise the foundations of a righteous life to do so.
Pastor Marc Lawson
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