Sunday, November 21, 2010

Change For The Better

by Rev. James Wong
The S.E.R.V.I.C.E. Culture

I shared that the final “C” of leadership is culture and together we need to build a church culture that is biblical and progressive using the acronym S.E.R.V.I.C.E. I have covered these: S=Serving Heart, E=Empower Others and R=Result Oriented, V=Value Teamwork, Innovate for Growth. For this week I would like to focus on “C” which means, “Change for the better.”

C = Change for the better. What does it mean?

Progress requires change. Everyone resists change in some ways and many leaders don’t like change but progress requires change. Being a leader, whether in the home, office or in the church, to make positive progress, you must lead forward and not leading in circle. To lead forward is to lead in a direction that will arrive at the goals that you want. But this will mean that you have to change the way you think and your mode of operation. To lead in circle is to lead with a set of rules or an old set of beliefs to maintain the status quo. You cannot move forward without thinking of change. Without change there can be no improvement. Change is not an end in itself but a necessary process of advancement.

Change could be a great obstacle. Change could be one of your greatest attitude obstacles that you need to deal with. In a marriage environment, it could be pride or seer stubbornness that a spouse is unwilling to change his or her way of living for a more cordial relationship. In the church, most people resist change because of tradition. The wrong assumption is that if something has become a tradition, it is better. Not so! If tradition helps to reach the purposes of the church effectively it can be a good thing. If it doesn’t, it could be time to try something new or create a new and homogeneous tradition. When we have the awareness that change can bring better benefits or better results, we will be more receptive to change.

Our natural resistance to change. We must understand that we have a natural resistance to change and some of the common reasons why we do not want to change is the fear of personal inconvenience, fear of the unknown and reasons best known to ourselves.

Columbus set sail from Palos in southern Spain in search of a western route to Asia on August 3, 1492. When he returned from the New World he proclaimed that the world was round but nearly everyone else at that time in Europe believe that the world was flat. His generation died and when another generation grew up they believed that the world was round. That was how change took place in the mind of the people!

What Jesus teaches about change
The parable of the wine and the wineskins is a parable about the necessity of change.
“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matt 9:17 NIV). In ancient times goatskins were used to hold wine. New wine which was made from fresh grape juice would ferment and give off gas and the new wineskin would stretch. But a used wineskin, already stretched, would break. Jesus brings a newness that cannot be confined within the old forms.

The parable first of all refers to the Pharisees who had become very rigid in their beliefs and they were like old wineskins. The Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ is like new wine which will destroy the old wineskin. God’s truth is always the new wine and our mind is the wineskin. God is always doing something new and his ways will always challenge our conventional thinking. We must be prepared to change. In Christian leadership, we must create a culture of changing for the better all the time. How do we do that?

1. Adopt a humble attitude. Change begins with a humble attitude. The Pharisees were so learned in the scripture that they completely missed the point concerning the Messiah. They could perceive nothing in Jesus that had the slightest resemblance of the kind of savior that God would send to deliver them. Their historical experiences, unequalled religious devotion and learning had conditioned their minds to think of the savior in terms of military might and conquest only. But the Good News of God’s Kingdom is about God’s rule in the hearts of men that has a global and eternal implication. To adopt a humble attitude is to be open to change.

2. Keep an open mind. "A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open." (Frank Zoppa). The Gospel is always the new wine and will ferment and will add “pressure” to our lives. A closed mind is a mind of old wineskin where there is no more room for stretching. We cannot confine God’s activities to our pattern of thinking or the traditional practices of our church because God says: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord . "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways” (Isa 55:8-9 NIV). That is why we pray “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” because God’s will is better than our will.

3. Keep your heart pliable. Our heart, like a wineskin can become rigid and prevent us from accepting the new ways that Christ offers. Our church programs and ministries constantly require new approaches, new structures and new administrations. We must have room for the fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, a new method, a new idea or a new way of thinking. Change for the better is an eternal principle of progress and advancement in every field of endeavor and the church is not excluded. How can we change for the better is the cornerstone question for us to serve the church effectively.

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