Change begins with one step. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I’ve been thinking how powerful the first step can be, especially when taken by a leader. I was reminded of this again reading in John 5 this week. Jesus met a disabled man who had been waiting by a pool, which the people thought had special healing powers. I was struck by a few things:
- This man understood waiting and longing. 38 years he had been waiting for healing. 38 years!
- What are you longing for? –in your life? In your leadership? In those you lead?
- Jesus asks “Do you want to get well?”
- Are you ready for a different reality?
- Do you want things to change?
- Or have you become content just maintaining your current reality?
- The man has reasons, very rational ones, why nothing has changed yet.
- It is easy to complain and see all the barriers in getting to a new reality.
- Have you lost hope somewhere of things changing and being different?
- Are you ready to give up your excuses and barriers?
- Jesus didn’t argue with the man, nor talk him through his reasons. Jesus simply said “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
- Jesus told him, take a step, your first step.
- What is Jesus saying is the first step for you?
This is an invitation for some deeper reflection. I think of this both personally and for our churches…
Personally: What am I longing and waiting for? Do I want things to change? Will I stop the excuses and push through the barriers? What is Jesus saying is my first step?
This can be helpful whether it is about health, exercise, what you eat, Bible reading, a relationship issue, further education, role changes, tough conversations to be had, connecting with a new group…
For our churches: This seems to speak to our current reality. I hear many church leaders and people both inside and outside our churches recognizing things need to change in Canada in order for us to reach our communities with the Good News. I hear people longing for renewal in our churches. I hear people longing for new churches to come to life. I hear people longing to see the church connect with this generation. I hear people longing to see the church connect with the community. I hear people longing for our children, youth and young adults to have a vibrant, sustaining faith. I hear people longing to see faith lived out in homes. I hear people longing to see a faith that changes the neighbourhoods where we worship, work, live, study and play. I am one of the ones longing.
I hear lots of longing. BUT, how many of our churches actually want to get well? Leaders, it starts with us.
I hear Jesus asking us… Do we want to get well? Are we ready to change? It will change your reality and your church’s reality, if we are to be more effective in today’s world.
OR do we just want to complain? I hear a lot of this among us… Talk about all the reasons it is too hard, that we can’t change, that the new reality is too unknown, too scary, too different, has too many hoops, that our church is different, our church isn’t ready, our youth group isn’t ready, the leadership isn’t ready, we don’t have any ______ (youth, $, volunteers…) …we’ll loose our place sitting on the mat by the pool, I’ll loose my spot in this church/youth group/ministry, if we _______________...
I hear lots of talk. I do not see much action. I do not see much change.
Jesus asks us. Do you want to get well? Get up! Get walking.
It’s the same questions for churches: What is our church longing and waiting for? Do we want things to change? Will we stop the excuses and push through the barriers? What is Jesus saying is our first step?
Trust Jesus and take the first step to change. It doesn’t matter if you are a 1st chair, 2nd chair, 4th chair, or 122nd chair leader. Somewhere you have influence. Somewhere you can take the first step to change.
Maybe it’s also important to note both Jesus and the man got in trouble for him taking his first step that day. It was the Sabbath. Carrying your mat on the Sabbath was just not the way things were ever done around here (Jerusalem)! Expect trouble when you take steps to change. If it’s change for the sake of people coming to know and experience God it is worth it!
I see a lot of churches, a lot of youth groups, a lot of leaders, sitting by the pool day after day, missing Jesus words “do you want to get well?”, “Get up.” Get started. Take the first step. There are things you cannot control. But there is lots you can control.
Please help our churches get well. Please take the first step towards change where you lead. Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.
Stuck and wondering what your 1st step could be? Who could you talk to that will help give you courage and clarity on this? If we can be helpful, let us know.