It’s a gray day in Colorado today which seems like a good day to write another post on the nature of change.
It’s often said that changing the direction of a church or company or institution of any kind is like turning a cruise ship: it’s slow and everyone has to be on board. As I think about my own life and things I’d like to change, I realize each one of us is a cruise ship as well.
I’m often tempted to be angry at myself for not changing faster. I wish I had more discipline and confidence and so on, but I don’t.
I wish I wasn’t an addict, but I am.
I wish I could be a little dinghy zipping back and forth, but I’m not; I’m a cruise ship who requires a lot of patience—both from other people and from myself.
There was a man I met in a pizza restaurant a decade ago who had the most charisma and confidence I had ever seen crammed into one human being. I remember thinking to myself, I could never have that much confidence! I could never open up my shoulders like that and smile so bravely! I could never be as boldly kind and have such cool stories as this guy…
A decade later, those things don’t seem so far from reach. Was there a moment in time where I shifted gears from pubescent teen to confident adult? Of course not. It’s a slow turn and it’s still in progress. It happens when you’re not looking, but someday you get to sit in a cozy coffee shop on a cloudy afternoon and realize that you’re further along than you thought. You have some cool stories under your belt, and maintaining eye contact doesn’t seem as terrifying as it once was.
You’re a cruise ship, and you’re still in motion.
Some years ago, a friend called me out for talking far more than I listened. I never asked questions, I just talked about myself. I like to think I’ve gotten better at this as well, but it didn’t happen all at once. If you turn a cruise ship too quickly, it’ll tip over and everyone drowns.
What are you trying to change, but it’s not happening as quickly as you’d like?
Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not at your destination yet. Remember that readjusting your direction is still part of the journey and everyone who’s moving is getting there, slowly but surely. One verse that always gives me hope is Ecclesiastes 9:4— “a sick dog is better off than a dead lion; everyone who is among the living has hope!“
If you’re breathing, you’re okay.
You may find yourself in an uncomfortable season of ‘turning the cruise ship,’ and take it from someone whose entire 20’s have been a turning season: you’ll be alright.
May we never forget that it is not our rate of change that God cares about, it is us. One pastor told me that God does not care at all about self-improvement. If we could improve ourselves, what need would we have for Him? Jesus has completed all of the work for us.
He calls to us from the land of Being as we slowly learn how to Become.
That’s not to say He doesn’t care about growth—I believe He does. The same way He created a tree to grow: slowly. Psalm 1 tells us that a person who delights in God is like a tree planted by streams of water. Do saplings expect to shoot up into towering trunks overnight? No, they grow slowly. And as they do, they are not flimsy hollow shells, like someone trying to appear more confident than they really are. They are sturdy and strong enough to withstand the storms.
May we not rush our growth.
May we not hastily turn our cruise ships so they capsize and frustrate us.
May we be content to grow like trees: at a healthy pace, and strong.