My nephew is a civil servant, an Inland Revenue men. He tells me that every five or ten years, when a new boss is appointed, he or she comes up with all sorts of ‘new’ schemes to streamline, to make more efficient, to rejuvenate the system. “Only,” he says, “I’ve been around long enough now to recognise that that (whatever is being proposed) was introduced twenty or more years ago only to be dropped because it didn’t work.” Or, more likely, it didn’t work the way they thought it was going to work.
Systems are fine, and new systems can be transforming, but, whether old or new, they are imposed on unchanging human beings. And it’s usually human beings who scupper new thinking.
I remember when I was working in the City, the incident of the “Torrey Canyon” oil tanker occupied our experts’ creative thinking for weeks and months. Once the captain had given the order to turn left or right, it took up to seven miles before any change of direction was discernible and a further 5 to turn 15 degrees. And as the ship slowed at the same time, her ability to turn became more and more difficult.
All of which means we have to be aware of similar traits in our human thinking. That we often resent change, or we despise change, or we out of hand reject change before it gets a chance to begin. Our new tri-partisan leadership may well run into similar difficulties as the Torrey Canyon captain. Even if we might disagree, or find something to be changed which we consider is not for the better, for the sake of unity and giving new leaders a chance to make their own mistakes, let’s give them our best shot at following where they want to take us.
You know, mistakes are not necessarily sin! And God wants people who are able to make good decisions, not merely do as they are told. In management circles the story used to be told of a son planning to take control of his retiring father’s business. “What advice would you give me, Dad?” asked his son. “Oh no,” said his father. “It took me a lifetime to learn from my mistakes. You make your own!” And it is a truism that we learn from making mistakes.
It’s also true that sometimes changes are introduced at a time when it isn’t possible for them to work. Give them a few years and ‘we’ will have grown up to be able to embrace the change.
Sometime change can be likened to repentance. And we signed up for change when we agreed to be baptised and became members of this fellowship. Change should have become for us by now a way of life. And yet still change can become uncomfortable, something to be resisted, something to be minimised if possible. And so, if we are to take advantage of change, we must be ready and willing to note our antipathy. That way our default position regarding change has less chance of impeding our implementation of change. In fact, we should embrace change as an indication of growth. Yes, even when the change is not really the best.
Strange that, that at times change to something else, whilst it may not be the improvement sought, it is actually the better way to follow—for the moment. Because the other thing about change is that we should we willing to acknowledge that at times a change hasn’t helped and be willing to return to the way we had done it before.