Enjoying the Gift of A Slower Pace of Change
For those of us accustomed to a rapid rate of change, things should happen yesterday or at the latest, this afternoon. Finding oneself in a land where change occurs slowly can fool the pilgrim into believing that it isn’t occurring at all. Frustration and even thoughts of failure can ensue unless the eyes and heart are awakened by the Spirit to recognize the gift of the slower pace.
For a variety of reasons, ministry in a rural context moves a slower pace. Serving an agricultural region helps you to learn to appreciate a slower, more considerate pace to life. From the first seeds planted in the spring to the harvest in the cool of autumn, little can be forced or imposed on a field. The farmer must be observant and aware of how all of the components of life are interacting on a day to day basis and then respond when necessary to maintain the equilibrium needed to produce the harvest. Conditions change. Life intervenes. Any number of things must be kept in balance as the crop transforms slowly from fragile seedling to robust stalks of grain ready to be reaped.
Ministry in this context is going to occur at the same pace and any attempt to impose or force a faster pace is going to be doomed to failure. God’s people in this context are prepared to initiate change in the seed form but not in the planting of full grown specimens from the nursery. They will allow incremental change that can then be nurtured along and monitored, but radical-turn-things-upside-down change will be rejected. Leading change demands that you acknowledge and respect this.
The gift of the slower rate is in the increased success of the initiatives. A slower rate enables the careful consideration of the incremental steps rather than surveying the train wreck and then trying to go back and see where the engine slipped off the rails. It allows God’s people to acclimate to change at the same rate that they see God at work on the fields that surround them. It allows for greater glory in God’s name as His people celebrate the small successes along the way rather than the final big bang of the conclusion.
The ministerial gift is in allowing the Spirit to turn one’s internal dial back from 10 to 2. It allows the small steps and relaxed pace to allow you to look every more closely for where He is at work in the process. The greater gift perhaps is that it allows us to savor God’s pace of redemption in us as individuals and in the world as a whole. Where we might have liked to see the sanctification occur in full yesterday, in His economy it takes a lifetime.
Image courtesy Martin Deutsch