Successful businessman and Motivational Writer, Max De Pree, in one of his books makes this statement: “In the end it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”1 How true that is, especially when we consider the fact the hardest thing for some people to do is change, especially their habits. From the way they comb their hair, brush their teeth, put on their shoes, cut their meat with a knife in their right hand while holding a fork in their left hand, they laying down the knife and shifting the fork to the right hand so they can put the meat in their mouths.
Benjamin Franklin once said that being uneducated is not as big a shame as being unwilling to learn. In other words, it’s hard to motivate the unmotivatable. William Shakespeare’s famous line, “To be or not to be,”2 can be expressed this way, “To change or not to change,” that is the question. Psychologists tell us that as humans, we typically hate change. We would rather stay the same than dive into the unknown. There is a feeling of safety in what is familiar; we are more comfortable in environments and relationships that we are used to than in those that require us to shift. This is true, even if what is familiar to us may be unhealthy or unfulfilling.
They go on to say, that to avoid change we frequently lie to ourselves. We tend to blame other people for undesirable aspects of our lives or for our uneasy feelings. For example, we may blame our unhappiness on a laundry list of external factors and people – our spouse, boss, job, children, health, lack of money, weight, childhood upbringing, or education. Or, we may create reasons to justify why we cannot change – we don’t have time, energy, strength, desire, confidence, or willpower to do anything differently. We may even try to control our environment and other people to make ourselves feel safer. When that doesn’t work then are prone to act passive-aggressively in our relationships when we don’t get our way.
Around Easter time it is not uncommon to hear a sermon on the last seven sayings of Christ from the cross. But I doubt if you’ll ever hear one on the last seven words of a loser in crisis: “I’ve never done it that way before.” If there ever was a group who personified this attitude, it was the Jewish sect of the Pharisees that Jesus had to deal with. They were so embedded in Jewish culture, that when Jesus began His ministry they gave Him no thought other than to criticize. They held power and prestige among the people and were granted certain privileges by the Romans and didn’t want to lose it by changing.3 When John the Baptizer and Jesus began to challenge their position it became evident a conflict would take place. It was not the design of our Lord to target the Pharisees, Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost.”4 The problem was, they refused to admit that they were lost.
Let’s admit it, we’ve missed many an opportunity because we were unwilling to give up something we had been accustomed to in order to accept something different. Since God is eternal, He lives neither in the past or future, but only in the present. And for us humans, while the past can’t be changed and the future is still to be formed, we do have to opportunities to change in the present. Our future is not always dependent on our past, but it is greatly influenced by our willingness to change now. Remember what De Pree said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Max De Pree: Leadership is an Art, Published by Crown Business, 1987
2 William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act III, Scene I
3 John 11:48
4 Luke 19:10