It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Whitaker House (May 2009)
Dr. Myles Munroe is the founder and president of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, an international motivational speaker, best-selling author, lecturer, educator, and business consultant. Dr. Munroe and his wife, Ruth, travel together as seminar speakers; they are the proud parents of two children, Charisa and Chairo (Myles Jr.), recent college graduates.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (May 2009)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
An Inevitability Shared by Everyone on Earth
The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
–George Will, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author
While we live and breathe on this earth, 6.7 billion of us human beings share the same inevitability: we all have to face change. The same was true for everyone who existed in the past. The same will be true for everyone who will be born in the future.
Our lives are in a constant state of transition. Life is always moving forward; nothing ever remains the same. Even those who live essentially quiet lives are affected by change. To a greater or lesser degree, we are continually being transported–whether suddenly or gradually–into the new, the different, the unexpected, or the untried.
Change is one of the most important factors in life, whether that change is imposed on us or we’ve created the change ourselves and are eagerly anticipating its possibilities. Yet most people don’t manage change effectively and positively. Some believe that change just Òhappens,Ó and they don’t think seriously about the effects change is having on them. Many also neglect to initiate positive changes that would make a significant difference in their lives and the lives of others. And the majority of us end up, in some way, the victims of unwanted change.
Four Types of Change
We experience four distinct types of change in life:
Change that happens to us–unexpected or anticipated change that affects our personal lives, families, careers, and so forth.
Change that happens around us–unexpected or anticipated change that affects our society, nation, or world and that also has some impact on us personally or on our ways of life.
Change that happens within us–unexpected or anticipated change that directly affects who we are–either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.
Change that we initiate–something created or altered by plans we have implemented in order to move us from the present to a preferred future.
We can identify each of the above as a distinct type of change, even though, sometimes, there may be overlap between them.
What Are the Results of Change?
Change transports the present into a future that demands a response. Often, that response requires further change from us. The fact of the needed change may bring positive activity–excitement, anticipation, and energetic planning. Or, it may bring a negative reaction–uncertainty, stress, and emotional shutdown. How we react to change has greater consequences to us than we may realize.
Imagine that you were transported a hundred years into the future. The changes that would have taken place in your nation and the world would be such that you would hardly recognize your own community. Abruptly coming into a transformed world would be a drastic encounter with change. Almost everything you are familiar with on a day-to-day basis would be gone: family, friends, culture, ways of interacting with the world (such as technology, communication), ways of perceiving the world (socially, politically, economically), and so forth. The language would even have evolved. Your words and even speech patterns would seem quaint to those in the twenty-second century. You would be as disoriented as someone from the first decade of the twentieth century trying to figure out what an iPod is.
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, one of the characters, Brooks, is paroled from the penitentiary. Brooks hasn’t lived out in society for five decades. He went to prison during the first decade of the twentieth century and is released in the 1950s. He considers harming or even killing a fellow inmate because then he will be charged with assault or murder and be able to stay in prison. His friends talk him out of it, however, and he is released from the penitentiary as scheduled. Brooks boards the bus that will take him into town, where he will live at a halfway house and work at a grocery store, bagging groceries. The bus speeds up to probably thirty-five or forty miles per hour, but Brooks clutches tightly to the seat railing because the speed is overwhelming to him. His expression of fear contrasts with the rest of the passengers on the bus, who just look bored. Brooks has no frame of reference for what the others take completely for granted. ÒI can’t believe how fast things move on the outside,Ó he writes to his friends. Everything about his life is unfamiliar, foreign. Brooks has nightmares in which he is falling. ÒI’m tired of being afraid all the time,Ó he says.
Change and Loss
Gradual change, experienced on a daily basis, is relatively easy for people to handle. Often, they don’t even notice it. But sudden change can affect people in a way similar to Brooks’ experience. Depending on the intensity of the change–and the resulting loss–the effects of change can vary from merely stretching someone to grow a little to causing someone to experience such mental conflict between past and present that he or she succumbs to a breakdown or even commits suicide. That’s what happens to Brooks in Shawshank Redemption. He can’t handle living on Òthe outside,Ó and, tragically, he takes his own life. Commenting on Brooks’ situation, another character, Red, gestures to the prison walls surrounding the outside courtyard and says, ÒI’m telling you, these walls are funny. At first, you hate ’em. Then, you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on ’em.Ó
Similarly, the effects of failing to implement positive change to improve one’s life can range from someone missing out on a single rewarding experience to not fulfilling his or her entire purpose for living.
In most of the above scenarios, the person reacting negatively to change experiences loss. Mostly, it is the loss of potential. It’s the loss of what that person could have been or done by responding constructively to change. This is why it is essential for us to learn to oversee change rather than become its victims, and why we must initiate change rather than be left behind by it.
The ongoing dynamic of change, therefore, is one of the most important factors of human life. How we relate to change has a significant impact on our quality of life and whether or not we accomplish what we are meant to during our time on earth. Understanding how to view, respond to, and benefit from change is vital to a well-balanced and fulfilled life.
Five Principles of Change
Let’s consider five foundational principles of change and their implications:
Nothing on earth is as permanent as change. What a paradox! One thing that’s always present on this earth is change. Nothing else can really be expected or guaranteed.
Change is continual. Our lives keep moving forward, and the environment around us undergoes alterations all the time. Change doesn’t stop when we sleep, when we take a vacation, or when we’re on a lunch break. Change is ceaseless.
Everything changes. The details of our lives are always in transition. Here are just some of the ways in which your life will (or can) change:
Your knowledge will change. We are always taking in more knowledge and information from a variety of sources. Often, the more information we receive, the more we view life and other people differently. New knowledge will change your perspectives or broaden or deepen your original ideas.
Your interests will change. Some of the things you are interested in today may change tomorrow as you expand the range of your experiences. Or, you may decide to focus on just one or two areas of interest in order to achieve a particular goal, putting other interests on the back burner or dropping them altogether.
Your values and priorities will change. The things that you value now may not be the things that you will value in the next ten years, five years, or one year. I don’t necessarily mean core life values, although these may change. Rather, I’m referring more to the priority or value we place on certain people or things. This may change due to increased personal maturity or to the particular stage of life we are in. For example, when many couples get married and start families, they begin to think about pursuing spiritual values because they think it will be good for their children. Or, the change may have to do with temporary life circumstances. Perhaps you had been focusing on building a vacation house, but you lost your job and are now focused just on keeping your primary home. Your plans have had to be cancelled or postponed. You don’t value that vacation house as a priority anymore because something more important has taken its place. When your values change, it can change your whole lifestyle.
Your body will change. If you are a young person, you are still growing and maturing into an adult. If you are already an adult, you will notice various physical changes as you grow older: your hairline recedes; your eyes don’t focus as they used to, and you have to buy reading glasses; your strength and flexibility are not what they had been; and so forth. These types of changes can significantly impact the quality of our lives if we are unprepared for them.
Your family relationships network will change. We don’t really know how our relationships may change in any given year. You may gain a new family member through a marriage or a birth. Sometimes, life hits you broadside; you didn’t even know it was coming, but suddenly, you’ve lost a family member through divorce or death. Perhaps a parent or grandparent develops Alzheimer’s or has to move into a nursing home. These are among the most difficult changes we can experience.
Your marriage will change. The dynamics of your marriage relationship will change over time. This doesn’t mean that your marriage is wrong or bad, but only that people and situations undergo transformation. Over the years, you will change and grow, and so will your spouse. We have to expect, prepare for, and get used to those changes. Changes in marital relationships can happen anytime. Yet much has been written about what happens to couples when their children go to college or move into their own homes. How do a husband and a wife learn to relate to each another again as two people–without the constant presence of children in the home? Or perhaps the husband has been the breadwinner of the family for twenty years and is suddenly laid off. How will this change in income and standard of living, even if temporary, affect the marriage? Can the couple keep a strong relationship if there needs to be a work adjustment for months or even years? Some people also experience unwanted divorce. These and many other factors affect the marriage relationship.
Your children will change. The image of their children as infants is indelible in most parents’ minds. When you bring your children home from the hospital after they are born, you must care for their every need. Yet they will move toward independence as they grow older. When your daughter turns eleven, for example, she may not want to wear that shirt you bought her but would rather make her own clothing choices. At sixteen, your son may want to stay out with his friends as long as he likes. Teenagers still need structure and loving guidance, but you have to learn how to adjust to their equally important need to grow up. Sometimes, we still want to treat them as if they are three years old. When your children mature and desire independence, you have to learn to handle this change with skill.
Your friends will change. While certain friendships can last a lifetime, the people with whom we spend a lot of time at one point in our lives may not be close to us later on, either geographically or emotionally. This may be due to a move, a divorce, or a shift in priorities. This adjustment may be difficult for you, especially if the friend is one with whom you grew up or one to whom you had been extremely close. Then, you may ÒoutgrowÓ certain people because you are going in a new direction in life, with goals or interests that these friends don’t share or value. At times, you have to relinquish some mere acquaintances so that you can gain new friends. Finally, some friendships may undergo change because the friends are just not healthy for you–your ÒfriendsÓ are encouraging you to do something self-destructive or illegal. We must expect that our friendships will change once in a while.
Your job may change. You can’t always control where you work, or whether you will be at your job for any specific length of time. Do you have the mental, emotional, and financial resources to handle a change in job status?
Change is inevitable. No one on earth can avoid change. This conclusion is not easy for some people to accept. Nevertheless, we must come to acknowledge that change is inevitable. When I settled this fact in my own heart and mind, my life became much easier to live. It is not healthy for us to believe that life will always remain the same. Everything may be going on an even plane right now, but there will be a transition or a point of stress in the future. Life is full of the unexpected, and changes will come upon us, at some time or another.
Change is a principle of life and creation. This last statement is really a summation of all the above: change is a principle of life. It is the way the world functions. It affects everybody. In one sense, change is proof that you are alive! Everything that you go through is a manifestation of some type of change, and it’s just a part of life.
The Human Equalizer
These principles of change highlight the fact that change is a human Òequalizer.Ó Nobody has a monopoly on change. Change affects everybody on the planet, no matter who they are. I know a man who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars but found out he had a serious illness that none of his doctors could cure. When he told me this, I thought, Change really affects us all. Sometimes, people think that if they had riches, it would keep them immune from change, but that isn’t true.
I imagine there’s another man in a hospital right now who is facing the same illness but doesn’t have money to pay his household bills, let alone his hospital fees. Yet the same change in health in both these men’s lives–one a millionaire, the other broke–puts them on an equal plane. Change does that.
So, change is every human being’s experience. If you think things aren’t changing in your life right now, just wait a week or a month or a year. Wealth, youth, talent, intelligence, popularity, success, ambition, or good intentions don’t make you immune: no matter who you are, you will experience it. So, whenever you encounter change–especially change you consider disruptive or distressing–don’t feel you’re all alone in this. We are all subject to change!
We’re Double-Minded toward Change
Since change is inevitable and all pervasive in our lives, why is it that so many people react to it as if it is a threat? When we see change all around us, why do we expect things to remain the same (except, perhaps, when we’re the ones attempting the change)? There are significant reasons for this, which we will explore in coming chapters. But let’s consider one facet of the question now: our double-mindedness toward change.
In many ways, people live contentedly with change and welcome it: they want to wear the latest styles, use the newest technological innovations, employ easier methods for accomplishing everyday tasks, and so on. During presidential elections in the United States, people are often asked by political candidates, ÒAre you better off than you were four years ago?Ó If they don’t feel they are, they will likely vote for the candidate they believe can bring positive change to the country.
Some people like nostalgia. They may wear ÒretroÓ clothing, watch vintage television programs, or buy furniture reminiscent of an earlier time period. Yet most of them would not really want to live in those times. They enjoy the latest technology. They like convenience. They welcome innovation–even if these new things make older things obsolete or if the innovations were developed under the pressures of economic necessity. Yet when change comes into their lives in a way they didn’t expect or want, they take it personally–even though, sometimes, some of the same societal forces may be at work creating the inconvenience as much as the convenience. We like change as long as it doesn’t cause us any discomfort.
We are therefore double-minded about change. ÒGoodÓ change can come, but we should never have to deal with what we perceive as unpleasant or negative change.
We’re Not Taught to Deal with Change
One of the reasons for our double-mindedness is that no one ever sat us down and said, ÒYou know, things never stay the same. Change is going to happen, and you have to learn to respond to it and use it for your benefit.Ó Parents don’t teach this idea to their children. Schools don’t include it in their curriculum. People aren’t naturally skilled in it. It’s not an instinct within us. We learn about change the hard way–by experience. Yet most of us never learn to respond to it effectively.
In a similar way, many people have never been taught that they need to develop certain skills to be able to initiate changes that will improve their lives. Even if people desire positive change, they are hindered from obtaining it by fear and uncertainty, or because they act rashly instead of purposefully and wisely.
Is Change Working for You?
What is your experience with change in your life? Do you generally feel that change is working for you–or do you feel that its influences are working against you? Do you know how to turn negative change to your benefit? To what extent have you been initiating positive change in your life?
The following are five ways in which people typically approach change.
Five Approaches to Change
People watch things happen. This is a passive, indifferent approach in which people don’t react to change because they have no real interest in it or its impact.
People let things happen. This is a resigned, defeated, or even fatalistic approach. A person may lash out against the change, but ultimately, his or her mind-set is, ÒThere’s nothing I can do about this.Ó
People ask, ÒWhat happened?Ó This is an inquisitive response, but it doesn’t go much further than mere curiosity or an interest in the latest gossip. It can also mean that a person never saw the change coming, and therefore he or she wasn’t prepared to respond to it.
People defy what happens. This is when someone tries to resist inevitable change in his or her life, wasting valuable time and energy in the process.
People make things happen. This is a proactive response by people that either alters the quality or degree of change that happens to the person or that initiates new change. Proactive people are the ones who usually succeed in life–against all odds. I refer to these men and women as Òworld changers.Ó
You will never really know who you are–and who you can be–if you don’t understand the nature of change and understand how to shape its consequences. With each change that happens to us, around us, or within us, we can…
Learn to define and interpret the change.
Discover principles for responding to the change so that it benefits ourselves or others.
With each change we wish to initiate in our lives, we canÉ
Learn how creating change enables us to fulfill our purposes in life.
Discover practical methods for implementing specific plans to fulfill those purposes.
Change–Enemy or Friend?
Think of change as your friend rather than your enemy. Change is not the kind of ÒfriendÓ who will sit and commiserate with you at a pity party but a friend who will encourage you to be the best you can be. It is my desire that, through this book, you will begin to see change as the arrival of opportunity rather than an invasion of destruction.
Responding to change in a positive way doesn’t come automatically or easily for most people. Yet there are specific principles of change that enable us to deal with and benefit from it. The only way for you to move forward to where you want to go in life, regardless of your circumstances, is to initiate desired change and to address unwanted change constructively. You must understand the nature of change and the principles for responding to it. Otherwise, you will be sidetracked or defeated by times of transition and perhaps never make the personal and professional advances needed to improve your life.
Yes, everything changes. Now, let’s explore how to make change work for you.
You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing in.
–Heraclitus, Greek philosopher