Patience, Diligence, and Strategy
Patience. Now to the importance of patience in transition. We all need it. But some need it more than others. For the sentimental traditionalist, patience poses little to no problem. They’d be happy if nothing changed. But for people eager for change, people jaded by change, and (a strange bedfellow) the naïve optimist, all of these need to remember change takes a lot of time and may be derailed for a season, before a new reality starts to find its true life. True change, deep transformational change, moves slowly. History repeats itself. Evil clings hard for life. Nothing seems to change. Be patient in affliction.
Time and Chance. Jaded cynics, who already hate what is evil, need to be joyful in hope, clinging to what is good. God will act when the time is right, and He will use people who can work with Him in very sketchy situations. In a parallel way, those eager for change need to remember to cling to what was good about the past. We don’t need to reinvent wheels. The eager, the jaded, and naïve optimist all need to remember that as much as we plan, time and chance still endure. Sometimes good projects tank. Sometimes bad projects flourish. Sometimes bad ideas need to have their day in order to teach us a lesson. Sometimes good ideas need to wait for their day, which may take a lot time to come around. This is where some of us need to stay behind God’s rather than outpacing Him and pushing beyond that constraints He is even willing to endure. Stride in step with God, even if the pace maddens you. He is working within the confines of time and chance.
Diligence. During transition we will always have a few people who simply need to tune in, clock in, and do some heavy lifting. A few people may need to be reminded that change is hard work. We need everybody to contribute, to do his or her own part. Nobody gains anything from agnostic inactivity. We should not be lacking in zeal but keep up fervor in serving the Lord.
Strategy vs. Deceit. Finally, on the far side of the other end of the spectrum, these verses challenge the opportunist. These people capitalize on change, the fertile soil ripe for many a wary agenda. There is, actually, a fine line between being a discerning leader and a manipulator extraordinaire. In addition to needing sincere love, great wisdom against deceitful scheming, faithfulness in prayer, restraint against personal conceit, and proper calm and concern, self-described opportunists need to remember that, for all of their posturing, humans are prone to err. Sometimes the opportunist should pause with some length before taking another apt moment. They should make sure that they are not wrong. Their agendas might be wrong. Their methods might be askew. They may have missed something. The opportunist should temper their strategies with stretches of inactivity, prayer, and time spent with people in low positions, in order to test their plans. They should learn to discern the long-term implications of their ambitious agendas. Our world needs far more courageous leaders and far less people scheming deceitfully. But if leaders are not careful their zeal could turn quickly in to ruin for many.
We cannot hold back change; it governs the foundation of the world. Sometimes change comes upon us slowly; other times it shocks us with its power. Nobody ever did the world a favour by enabling a denial of change. People can run from change, but far better we learn to navigate it; even in our early and adolescent years. If something changes in our lives, this doesn’t mean we should retreat into isolation. We can do transition well. And Christians should play a special role in leading through it. How can we help lead through transition if we run from it?
Christians as Attitude Leaders in Times of Change
Christians can be healers in transition rather than pushy, entitled, and depressing. They can be gentile and kind; pace themselves; tell the truth in love, show reverence for one another, staying calm, giving trust, and building trust. We say all this in one word: love.
When all the world seems to stumble into the frenzy of deep transition, Christians can hold one steadily to their foundations, with empathy, blessings, humility, uplifting dialogue, truth, hope, patience, abandonment, diligence and strategy. We can hold on deeply to the core wisdom of the past while accepting that sometimes our frameworks for understanding the world had been too small for this complex reality. To move forward as inspirational attitude leaders, we welcome change as the great expander of our universe and the great window of awareness into God in the world. We can remain open to new ideas while keeping our feet firmly planted on what we already know to be true.
I am struck that, in childbirth, we call the most painful birthing pains, the ‘transition’. Rightly so. The world in the West seems to be at a great transition, groaning in pain. If we choose to act in love, as mature Christians, we can and will help navigate through changes of many kinds without further depressing this seismic world we call home.