I’ve had a number of conversations lately on the topic of getting others to change. Many of these conversations have been in my head, others have been in my office, and others have happened in hallways or grocery aisles or out and about in the daily rhythm of life. To be honest, this topic has been at the forefront of most pastoral conversations I’ve had since submitting and entering the ministry in 1999. We all long for change: mostly other people to change. More about us in a second.
Is there is a clear-cut, fool-proof way to help other people change. Of course not. Yet, there is a truth from the scriptures that is born out from our experience. People rarely change because they are shamed into it. Change rarely comes because they are forced into it. And, lasting change almost never happens because of some transaction - "If you do this, I will do this." I read this just the other day:
Humans change in the process of love-mirroring, not by paying any price or debt.
- Richard Rohr, p 132, The Divine Dance
If I want others to change, it begins with me. I have to show love. It is like a mirror that reflects an image back to the other. The image I am reflecting must be love. Change in the other person of a relationship always begins with me.
Christianity is a social religion. We learn it from others and are commanded to share it with others. Really very little of it is personal or private. If there is, it is my own personal willingness to be changed, by grace outside of my own ability. Change is grace. Change is submission. It starts with me.
Grace and peace, Scott