Dealing with Change in the New Year!


December 2004

Dear Ministry Partner,

Change. For some people, the word makes them feel terrified and their heart stands still. For others, the word "change" always creates excitement and their heart beats faster! Different personality types view change in different ways. It has been said that the one thing that is constant in life is change. People change jobs, change cars, change clothing styles, change houses, relationships change, the economy changes, technology changes, and people around us change. The kids grow up, the older relatives die of old age, the neighbors move away, somebody you know comes down with a disease or falls away from God — something seems to always be changing around us.

Understanding and dealing with change properly is one of the keys to a successful life. People who don’t understand when to change, how to deal with it, or aren't obedient when God prompts change are destined for greater problems than those who follow Spirit-led change. In fact, it seems like God in the Bible was continually either creating change in the environment around the Biblical characters, or else He was telling those characters they needed to change. Anyone who tries to "just keep everything the same" is in for a very uphill battle. Often, God wants something to change.

When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they camped in the wilderness for 40 years. However, they did not camp in the same place. He led them with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exo. 13:21). They were supposed to follow it in faith (Exo. 40:38), and sometimes it stayed in the same place for a year, and sometimes only for 2 days (Num. 9:22). And the Bible does not record any pattern or reason for it. God obviously had reasons for each "change" but the children of Israel were vastly unaware of the reasons, whatever they were. Numbers chapter 33 records that God led the children of Israel to "change" where they were camped at least 42 times. However, the ones that were unwilling to change got left behind and died unfulfilled in the wilderness. Others were impatient for change and could not wait on the Lord (Num. 14:44 & 21:4), and this caused their premature death.

Basic attitudes toward change are initially influenced from the personality of the individual involved. There are four major human temperaments or personality types universally recognized. Of these, two personality types are at the "extremes" concerning willingness to change. First, the Sanguine type is very prone to change (the "I" in the DISC model, also known as "otters" by Gary Smalley). Those who are very slow to change are the Phlegmatics (the "S" in the DISC model, also known as "golden retrievers" by Gary Smalley). Typically, the spontaneous Sanguines need to resist the constant urge to change things so often (nothing against the Sanguines, we need all the personality types). As a contrast, typically the steady Phlegmatics need to resist the constant urge to keep everything the same! Some people have to be held back from changing so much, and others have to be prodded to change anything! As is often the case, keeping a balance is the key. The other two basic personality types have a more "even" tendency in their approach to change, but most people still don't like change.

It has also been said that there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. As Christians, we need to make things happen — being leaders for the Lord, and bringing about positive change for the Kingdom of God. (And as Christians, what we make happen should be a blessings to others, and not hurt, use, or control them.) God has not called us just to exist for 70 or 80 years with nothing changing — just paying utility bills every month! We were created for a higher purpose, and society needs changing.

Others around us are competing to create a change — to dictate the direction our society will go. Hollywood and the unGodly media are trying to influence and change people in an evil direction constantly. We need to simultaneously resist this kind of incorrect change, while implementing our own Godly changes!

Some people try to change the things of God into something less holy. For example, how on earth could a historical, Godly minister in Turkey named Bishop Nicholas be changed into a fat toy maker living on the north pole with a bunch of elves? And how could the celebration of the birth of the Son of God become a "winter holiday" and be all about snowmen and commercial materialism? Some changes need to be resisted.

Change is always somewhat risky, but very vital. It has been said that whenever something stops changing, it is dead. Change is not our enemy, incorrect action is. As you contemplate this next year, what does God want you to change? Is there something you need to start? Is there something God wants you to stop? If you are in the wrong church, does God want you to change churches? If you are in a dead-end job, does God want you to change careers? Maybe you want to start reading your Bible, or pray more? Some people have to get very uncomfortable before they are willing to change. But God wants us to change before we get uncomfortable. It is the still, small "voice" that He wants us to follow — proactively changing — rather than fleeing from a disaster and reactively changing. We can change a little at a time and minimize the discomfort, rather than having a massive change thrust upon us because we have not been changing.

Change is sometimes a difficult thing, and it brings to mind a statement by a famous minister in England, G. Campbell Morgan, who said "Faith sees and dares in the day of overwhelming difficulty. Faith waits patiently through delays caused by failure in others. Faith acts with courage in the day of opportunity." What is God speaking to you to change or take action on? Lives may be eternally impacted by a "change" this year.

And when implementing change of any kind, it is great to have as much stability as possible. And nothing is more stable than the Word of God! We encourage you to read through your Bible this next year, and our daily Bible Reading Guide is a great tool for this. Invest into God's Word, and you will have the power to change. We also invite you to invest into our ministry as we are at the end of this fiscal year.

Changing things for God,

Dale & Judi Leander


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