When we seek deep spiritual change in our lives, there is always God’s invitation to walk by faith, not by sight. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus say’s, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Deep spiritual change is what is needed to lead the church today into the future. So, why do so many of us hesitate to embrace deep spiritual change?
Robert E. Quinn, in his book Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within, tells a story about a young family who decided to go to the zoo. Upon arrival, the youngest son made a dash for the swings located at the zoo’s entrance. He was having the time of his life. When the rest of the family was ready to enter the zoo, he wouldn’t budge. His brothers and sisters tried to talk him into leaving but could not. His mother’s gentle talk didn’t persuade him to let go so they all could enter the zoo. As everyone voiced their displeasure, strangers stopped to watch the drama unfold.
His mom looked at his dad and said, “Do something.” The dad remembered that there was a carousel around the corner. He also knew that his son loved to ride a carousel even more than he liked to swing. He told his son about the carousel, but the boy was not persuaded. Dad, now frustrated, turned from persuasion to threat. Finally, the boy was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the swing. He continued protesting until they got to the carousel. Suddenly, his eyes grew big with excitement. His tears disappeared as he mounted the wooden horse and smiled and waved at his parents.
There are three perspectives in this story.
- First, there is the viewpoint of the uninvolved strangers who judged the parents who could not succeed without force. It is easy to judge when you are not personally involved.
- The second perspective is of the two loving but frustrated parents who were struggling to intervene in a real situation. This is the viewpoint of the responsible actor, trying to make a change in the world. In theory, it looks good, but making change a reality is often filled with frustration and failure.
- The last perspective is that of the self-centered little boy holding tightly to the swing. This little boy is selfish, immature, and afraid to let go and look around the corner at what appears to be an uncertain future.¹
Dick Wills writes, “I believe the perspective of this little boy is exactly the place where most church leaders and church people find themselves today. It is painful to think of oneself as the little boy. One of the last things we want to consider is our own immaturity and fear of change. However, most of us are like the little boy who refuses to leave the swing. The more we hear about needed change, the more tightly we grip the swing. What is needed is deep spiritual change in order to confront selfishness, immaturity, and fear. We are to be leaders who walk by faith and not by sight.”²
When a leader seeks deep spiritual change in his or her own life, there is always God’s invitation to walk by faith, not by sight. Jesus is recorded as saying it this way: But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).
How do we get to the place where “we walk by faith and not by sight?”
- Robert E. Quinn, Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within, p. 35.
- Dick Wills, Waking to God’s Dream, p. 128.