Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 15, 2013

change is hard

Recently, my ninety year-old mother-in-law made the startling admission that she doesn’t like change. It is reasonable for anyone born in the 1920’s to be a bit overwhelmed by the rapid fire changes that seem common place in the 21st century. Even though she graduated to a cell phone, my mother-in-law would still prefer the old rotary phone. But it’s certainly not just senior citizens that don’t like change. One of my friends recently shared with me that the changes I was challenging him and others with, were hard. His words went something like this … “I’m fifty-three and it’s hard to change.”  He and I, and you and I are no different.  We don’t like change and we definitely think that personal change is hard.

You’ve probably made statements like “he/she will never change.”  Why do we make such limiting statements about others? Because we believe that change is hard, and that most people are not willing to take the necessary steps to make long-term personal changes. But the critical questions for you and me are, what do we need to change, and are we willing?  I accept that change is hard, but that cannot be an excuse to short-circuit God’s design. To help present my premise, I am going to give you a part of my life that has needed some changing.  Like my friend said, “change is hard.”

The specific area of my life needing some renovation is communication. To be exact … less of it! Without much effort, I can dominate a conversation. It’s easy to rationalize that I am an extrovert, and make no effort to change. Listening is so very important, but it’s fun to talk, and besides … I have a lot to say! Can you see how that statement bleeds selfishness?  On my personal journey this year I have been convinced that speaking less and asking more questions is needed.  Admittedly, changing long ingrained habits has not been easy.  But if listening better and focusing more on those in front of me can have a meaningful impact on someone, I’m all in.

One of the areas that I’ve been working on is making sure that I never speak more than 50% of the time in any conversation.  Change is hard!  Focusing on the less than 50% model reminds me to really listen to the person in front of me.  It may sound silly to attempt a reduction in speaking, but for me it’s been a needed change. One that is definitely still a work in progress!

Another action item on my journey of changing is to ask more questions, which also causes me to focus on the person in front of me. I don’t need to fix people, or their problems, and I don’t need to dominate the conversation (although it is easy to try).  Asking sincere questions completely redirects the focus of my communication. It makes the other person more important … and isn’t that what Christ wants from us?! I was profoundly convicted to ask more questions after recently being given the following quote from a friend. It presented that in Scripture Christ was asked 278 questions; He answered 3 and asked 307 (Os Hillman).  If those numbers are even close to accurate, we can all learn a great deal from them. Change is hard, but worth the effort!

It wasn’t easy sharing an area of needed change in my life, but I hope it illustrated the point that change is hard. The stakes are high, but influencing others and honoring God are at the core of my quest.  You may not have my issue, but there’s no doubt you have one. Do you already know what it is?

Just promise me — Never say you can’t change, and never limit God’s power in your life by refusing to try.


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