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Are You Confusing Change with Improvement?

Here are 3 questions to ask before you take the leap.

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Every New Year, the urge to make changes tugs hard. There’s just something about flipping that calendar over that taps us on the shoulder and says: “It’s time for a change.”

Are You Confusing Change with Improvement?

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

We long to grow and develop to our full potential. With that as a goal, we love change. Self-improvement is part of our culture. It’s huge! It sells change by marketing discontent.

Years ago I remember a presidential candidate who kept reiterating, “It’s time for a change!” But he was confusing change with improvement. Voters put him in office, and—you know what? He was right. Things changed.

Things got worse.

Before you make that upcoming decision, here are 3 questions to ask and 3 things to consider.

Why We Love Change

Think about the last time you made a change. (I don’t mean you chose a vanilla latte over your peppermint mocha.) I mean a serious alteration. We make changes because we think we’ll get what we want.

In many cases, we’re willing to sacrifice to get the benefit:

  • We’ll start to exercise to get fit and feel better.
  • We’ll begin reading our Bible and praying each day in order to grow spiritually.
  • We’ll reprioritize our workaholic routines to make room for our family.

We love the change we initiate because it gets us what we want. On the other hand, we also fear change.

Honestly, it terrifies us.

Why We Fear Change

We fear the change we cannot control—and we resist it. (God, of course, is committed to change. It’s called spiritual growth. We get no benefit from staying the same. He often has to force change on us. But He’s God, and that’s another subject I’ve written on here.)

Some people feed off of change. They almost need, it seems, chaos in their lives in order to keep them distracted from the otherwise emptiness of who they are. So they force change.

  • They’ll replace spouses.
  • They’ll repaint the house and rearrange the furniture. (Every two months.)
  • They’ll confuse the latest, the newest, the shiniest with the best.
  • They mistake consistency for monotony.
  • They confuse faith with presumption—and push ahead for something new.
Overlooking Athens from Mars Hill

(Photo: Overlooking Athens from Mars Hill, courtesy of Unsplash)

When Paul came to Mars Hill in Athens, he found a group of intellectuals there:

All the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new. —Acts 17:21

Paul referred to these people as “very religious”—but still clueless. A mile wide and an inch deep. As Christians, we can fall for the same trap. We will seldom see God working in our lives when we refuse to hang in there long enough for God to show Himself to be God.

We rush to something new and call it “faith,” when it is little more than presumption and fear of losing control.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Take the Leap

Got some ideas for your new year? Before you make a serious switch, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do I believe the illusion that change is always better?

Don’t answer too quickly. The next time you watch a movie or see a commercial, notice how often the scenes switch. Try to find one that lasts more than a few seconds. We have cultivated a low tolerance for sameness. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Bored with the monotony, we get restless with sameness.

Some think any change has to be better than their current situation. But whenever something new suggests relief, it’s wise to weigh the pain of the change. After all, things can get much, much worse. Remember that president’s words?

Consider this: If you’re always starting over, you’re making no progress.

Am I taking any counsel outside myself

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2. Am I taking any counsel outside myself?

Yes, you’ve made your list of pros and cons. Of course, you’ve prayed about it and read God’s Word. Awesome.

But so have others.

The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can give a discreet answer. —Proverbs 26:16

When you’re about to make a big decision, pull others who are spiritually mature into the mix, and get their take on it (especially if they have to live with the decision). It’s just possible they see something you don’t.

Consider this: Your decisions impact other lives besides yours.

3. Consider why the decision was made in the first place that you’re about to change.

As G.K. Chesterton said:

Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, ‘Why was it put there in the first place?’ — G.K. Chesterton

Change for the sake of change often causes the wheels to come off.

Consider this: An uninformed, hasty decision can later backfire with regret.

A long year stretches out before you. You’ll make thousands of decisions in your life. What’s your motive?

Tell me what you think: What helps you make good decisions? To leave a comment, just click here.

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