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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

That Old Devil Change

We had a wonderful family vacation in February. My wife and I, our three adult children, our daughter-in-law, and our two grandchildren went to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, for the proverbial week of fun in the sun. It was our eighth year at our favorite resort. We had neighboring ground floor rooms just steps from the pool. Wonderful.

At first we weren’t too sure. The resort was pummeled by Hurricane Odile last September, and was closed from mid-September until mid-December. Rebuilding is still underway. Some parts of the resort are still not completed and in use. There was, however, more than enough for us, and we had a great week.

But. But. For seven years we had been taking two or three meals a day in the same resort restaurant, the Napa. We knew what to expect there. We knew where we liked to sit. We knew the people who worked in the Napa, and what the particular menu treats were. But the Napa was severely damaged by Odile, and the decision made that it would not be reopened. The area is becoming a meeting room.

Another of the restaurants was expanded and remodeled, so rather than taking our meals in the Napa, we would be taking them in Fruitas and Floras. I was not convinced that I liked this idea. It meant losing something familiar that I had loved. There was no choice. We went along with it. Grudgingly...

... for about one meal. Fruitas and Floras turned out to be wonderful. The same people were there. The same food, with some new treats added. If anything, the seating was more comfortable. I am now a certified Fruitas and Floras fan.

This made me think about change. I have always been about change. I can honestly say that I enjoy change. I never had the patience to stay in one congregation for more than 12 years. I always wondered what was over the next horizon. One of the attractive aspects of ministry to me was the chance to move every few years, and my family gloried in that. In congregations I tried to be an agent of change. I get bored easily. Recently I floated an idea to my bride that we change seats at the kitchen table. The proposal is being debated.

But I don’t like it when change is forced on me, imposed on me from the outside, like being forced to leave the Napa and go to Fruitas and Floras.

I am all for pastors and interns being agents of change. I think that is a significant part of the role of the pastor. When a church stops changing it dies, just like a person who has stopped changing is dead. At the same time, now and then it is helpful to get a reminder of what it is like to be on the other side of the change, to be the one change is imposed upon. Being the changer is a blast. Being the changee is not so much fun!

Patience, sisters and brothers, patience.

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