Letting Change Change You!
By Jill Briscoe
My husband was answering questions at a pastors’ conference where he was the guest speaker. "What is the biggest challenge you have faced in 30 years of pastoring?” Stuart was asked. Without hesitation he answered, “Coping with and managing change!” This has been my biggest challenge, too. Change is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to depend on God. In other words, change is an opportunity to find out how inadequate you are and how all sufficient He is!
Change teaches us flexibility. I tend to be a rigid person, so God has used our ministry experiences to teach me flexibility. I have learned about change in over 45 years of ministry. First as a full-time youth worker, then for 30 years as a pastor’s wife, and now as a minister-at-large with Stuart, available to the church and mission community worldwide, bringing informal biblical training and encouragement.
My life changes almost on a daily basis! While I’m not coping with family, housing or job changes—I’m coping with a changing worldwide church that is living in one of the most frightening, exciting, challenging periods of history. Yet the gospel is spread and it changes people, societies, and the world. We are called to be change makers! The church is God’s method, and we have our mandate.
This ministry takes us away for months on end. This year I will have been in a Jewish country, Muslim countries, a Buddhist country, a Catholic country, a Communist country and America. As I adjust to time changes, food changes, climate changes, culture changes, bed changes, clothes changes, and language changes, I try not to allow these lesser, though not unimportant, changes distract me from the bigger issues at hand. I can use the lesser things I need to adjust to, as a workshop for the bigger challenges around the corner of tomorrow.
Change changes me. A missionary in Thailand testified after 45 years on the mission field that she had come out to help people find the life-changing Christ, and found that God wanted to do a life-changing work in her heart! That was one of the main reasons He brought her there in the first place! God could only make those changes in her on the field and not at home.
Look at your place of service and ask yourself, “What is this place and period of service for? What does God want to use in this setting to change my attitudes? My actions?” Let a change change you. First and foremost, let God change you into the image of Christ on a daily basis. This may mean you need to change your schedule to give God time. It may mean you change your eating habits if the only time for God is at a mealtime. It may mean changing the way you spend your money, your discretionary time, even your vacations. Change loosens your grip on the things of the world. Things like jobs, relationships, plans, and dreams. I need to relax and let things happen and not try to control things. I need to believe He’s in control and trust Him. Often a change means you evaluate the things you own and remember we really own nothing in this world at all – it is all His.
A change of country will do that for you. We were asked to come to the States with nothing, and the church would provide for us. We came with two suitcases apiece. It was quite a change to have everything we owned packed into two suitcases! Incidentally - it can be done!
That is quite a challenge in itself. Maybe you want to make a list of some of the lessons you have learned through change.