November 2010

This fall I chaperoned my daughter’s junior kindergarten class to a farm. To make sure that it was an “educational” experience, there was a lecture on animals. The speaker told the class that the animals were very busy preparing for winter.

There are three different animal responses to a change in the seasons:

Adapt – Prepare for the cold weather by making changes in their body and behavior. Rabbits take this approach.

Migrate – Leave the cold by flying to a warmer climate for the winter. Geese are best known for migrating for winter.

Hibernate – Enter a state of inactivity and metabolic depression for the winter. Bats are experts at winter hibernation.

As the presenter continued, I thought of how we humans respond to change. People, both individuals and organizations, facing change often pick one of the three responses found in the animal kingdom.

Adapt – Make the changes needed for success, or at least survival, in the new environment.

Migrate – Leave the situation and head for a more desirable environment.

Hibernate – Check out of the new reality while physically remaining in the environment.

Animals don’t really have a choice in how they respond to the change in seasons. They simply act according their species.  However, we humans are able to choose how we respond to the changes that we face in life.

What is your normal response to change?

What changes are you or your organization currently  facing?

How should you respond to those changes?


In sixth grade, I noticed that two of my classmates drew large crowds by break dancing at football games. I decided that I would get in on the action, and I bought a book on “how to break dance.”

Yeah … that did not really work. I was not a break dancer.
We often fail when we focus on what other people instead of being who we are. This happens even, maybe especially, within Christianity.

We see an example of this in John 21:20-22

Peter and Jesus had just finished a remarkable conversation clarifying their relationship and Peter’s role in the mission.
Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple John.
Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

Most of us can relate to Peter in this story. We have taken our focus off of Jesus and our calling, and become consumed with looking at and evaluating others. Focusing on other people’s walk with God and their calling takes a few different expressions:
We Compare Ourselves to Others
We Copy Others
We Criticize Others

All of these expressions of  looking to others do damage to our calling and relationship with God.

I suspect that when we ask Jesus, “What about that person?”
Jesus still responds as he did to Peter, “What is that person’s calling and relationship with me calling to you? I will take care of them. You are called to follow me. Stay focused on me.”

May we be people who keep our focus upon Jesus and who he calls us to be.

I love my idealized self. The me that I imagine in my head is really amazing.

I have a far more difficult time loving the self who actually exists in the real world. The real me has weaknesses and flaws.

The story of Jesus shows us that God loves us, the real us, weak and flawed.

Tom Wright helped me see this in Jesus’ appearance to Peter in John 21:9-17, in ways that are not obvious in many of our English translations.

Setting of the Story: The smell of a charcoal fire burning was in the air as Jesus cooked breakfast. Peter had smelt a charcoal fire burning earlier in the Priests Courts where he had denied Jesus three times.

Jesus: Peter, do you love me?

Peter: Yes, Lord I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my lambs.

Jesus: Peter, do you love me.

Peter: Lord, I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my sheep.

Jesus: Peter, are you my friend?

Peter was grieved that he could not say more, and that Jesus had to adjust the question.

Peter: Lord, you know everything. You know that I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my sheep.

A couple of observations on this story:

First, Jesus meets Peter where he is. Surely, both men would have preferred for Peter to say that he loved Jesus. He could not do it.  Jesus accepted what Peter could give.  Likewise, Jesus graciously meets us were we are.

Second, Jesus’ forgiveness comes in the form of a commission for Peter. That pattern still holds true today. We are forgiven and we are sent. All authentic ministry is rooted in the forgiving love of God.

May we learn to accept the love of the God who has taken our denials and our imperfections and has graciously dealt with them in Jesus.