My life motto is "A better world begins with me." I believe if I want the world to be better, I have to be the first to change for the better. As I allow God to change me and make me better, it is my hope the outflow from my becoming better will impact the world around me in a positive way. And as those who come in contact with me become better, they, too, will have positive impact on others. Then as those become better, they will pass it on until the world becomes better. I know it's a big dream, but many have changed the world through influence, so why can't I?
When my husband and I speak at marriage retreats and leadership meetings we talk about the need for healing in marriages and leadership, and we refer often to a book written by Dr. Sandra Wilson, Hurt People Hurt People. This book discusses how people who have been hurt by others will turn and hurt others. Victims become victimizers. We witnessed this truth early in our own marriage, we have witnessed it when counseling others, and we have witnessed it in leadership. We all carry baggage from past hurt that impacts the way we relate to our spouses, our children, our friends, and those we lead. And unless we learn how to heal from past hurt, we end up hurting loved ones and followers and reproducing our hurt in others. When left unchecked, the cycle then continues as those we've hurt turn and hurt those over whom they have influence.
We all have been hurt, have hurt others, and need to change. So how do we change? When Eugene and I teach on healing, we present a three step process for change.
Know the Truth
The first step to a better me is to know the truth about myself. This means I have to recognize my need for change, and then I have to identify what needs to change. Jesus said in John 8:32, "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (ESV). The context of this passage is related to how abiding in God's word helps us to be made free from sin. Therefore this principle teaches me that knowing the truth about God's word will reveal the truth about myself, and, as a result, I can be made free from what is wrong in my life. When I understand my need to change and what needs to change, I can change. When I know the truth about myself, I can become better.
Make the Change
The second step to a better me is to make the change. Once I know what needs to change, I need to change it. Behavior is rooted in philosophy; therefore, to change my behavior, I have to change my philosophies. Adopting different philosophies involves changing what I value. Paul said we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (See Romans 12:2.) So, to change for the better, I have to adopt better philosophies. To adopt better philosophies, I have to have better values.
Evoke New Practices
The third step to a better me is to behave differently. It's one thing to know I need to change and to change my thinking, but unless I act on those changes, the changes won't stick, and, thus, I'll revert back to my old behavior. II Peter 2:22 says, "What the true proverb says has happened to them: 'The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire,'" (ESV). I engage in the change process by making better choices. Better values drive better choices. James 1:22-25 says, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving youselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no heareer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing," (ESV). So I have to move beyond knowing what needs to change and changing my mind. I have to actually live differently.
When teaching leadership meetings my husband refers often to Kurt Lewin's model of change, which involves three stages: unfreeze, change, refreeze. Its premise is this: if you have a square block of ice and want to change its shape to become a circle, you can't take that block of ice and, in its current state, expect it to fit into a round mold and change into a circle. To change it from a square to a circle you have to first change its frozen state to a liquid state by thawing it out. Once thawed the liquid can then be poured into the round mold. But though it has momentarily lost its square shape, if removed from the round mold, it will not retain a circular shape because it is still liquid and, thus, unstable. Therefore, to stabilize the circular shape, the liquid has to be frozen again while inside the round mold. This is the unfreeze, change, refreeze process of change. If we want to change we have to recognize what needs to change—unfreeze, think differently—change, and then live by different values—refreeze.
I refer to the great and first commandment every time I write a blog—love God, love others. (See Matthew 22:37-39.) From this commandment I have addressed our requirement to love God, love our neighbor, love the least, and love our enemies. We struggle with all parts of this commandment because we are flawed and limited human beings. But there is hope in Jesus Christ. He came so we could be made better. Jesus said in Luke 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised," (KJV). Because of Jesus we can become doers of this great and first commandment—love God; love others.
Jesus said in John 14:16, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things...," (KJV). The Holy Spirit teaches us how and empowers us to be better. The Holy Spirit shows us what needs to change, teaches us to think differently, and then enables us to live differently.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...," (ESV). To make disciples, we must first be disciples. We have been commissioned to be better so the world can be better.