3 P’s For Change
I try to go for walks everyday, preferably outside. So, a couple of days ago, I proceeded to head out. I had my hair in a ponytail and decided I really needed to wear a hat but it had to be my hat that has a hole in the back for my ponytail. I went to the spot where I thought my hat was - but it wasn’t. I looked in several places in vain, frustration growing.
The frustration is a long story. This year I remarried (a wonderful thing) and moved to a farm (a happy thing). This was at least the 40th time I have moved in my life. The process of moving was long due to remodeling and many other long, boring details. Needless to say, my stuff is in multiple locations and there are many things I can’t find.
The frustration was building because I have preferences (1st “P”). I like to have a place for things and then have the things in their place. That preference became very strong after my first husband died suddenly. I had no control over anything in my life, particularly death, and I had a huge need to regain control where I could. So, it made me feel better to have my things arranged so that I could find them. I grew frustrated and angry when I would have to make 10 trips to the garage to find a particular screwdriver. My husband would have know exactly where it was, but he was gone and I was frustrated. So, I created a spot for my tools. That helped.
When I couldn’t find my hat, that same frustration reared its head. After all, there is nothing wrong with wanting order in your life! Well, unless it frustrates and controls you in some way. As I proceeded on my walk, I tried to reason with myself. For the past few weeks God had been bringing the word “perspective” (2nd P word) to me again and again. That day was no exception. As I was fussing and fuming about my “things” being in such disarray, the Holy Spirit was talking also. Since trying to listen to two voices in your head is just confusing, I decided it would be best to silence my own! But, I’ve been a Christian, Pastor, Teacher for most of my life so I know all the correct answer to my own dilemmas (I thought). The voice of the Holy Spirit gently reminded that I do not.
As I walked and listened, instead of fuming, a third “P” word popped up - Position. Now, those three words - preference, perspective, position - are all good words. They represent good things.
Preference - a greater liking for one alternative over another or others.
Perspective - a particular attitude or way of regarding something; a point of view; stance; frame of mind; interpretation.
Position - the location or way in which something has been placed.
We all have preferences; our own way of looking at things, and positions that we take. I have seen people leave churches, get divorced, and live in anger over those three things. It became impossible for them to change their position (mind set) because of the way they wanted things to be, and believing that their perspective was the only way to look at things. Like all things, those three “P’s” can be good or bad.
If I had refused to listen to the Holy Spirit that day, I could have become very angry. It would have been easy to blame many others because one little area of my life seemed to be out-of-control. However, I knew I had to listen.
Changing perspective usually involves changing position at the same time - might have to move around a little to see things differently. Jesus is the supreme of example of that (and everything). He was willing to leave His position in heaven, let go of His power, lay aside His own sinlessness by taking on the sin of the world, becoming human, dying for all so that we could come into relationship with the Father again; not by works or anything we could possibly do - by grace alone - totally undeserved favor with God. This means that refusing to change our position can be a bad thing. If I refuse to move and try to see something from someone else’s perspective, I can be wrong. If my position brings pain, it can be wrong.
Yes, I know there are times when you have to stick with your position no matter what. If I worked for someone who told me to do something illegal in order to keep my job, I would hold to my position and lose my job. I believe that stealing and lieing are sins. That’s my position and I’m sticking with it. One time years ago, my first husband and I disagreed on something. He was quite adamant that I should change my position and agree with him. However, I firmly believed that he was wrong and that what he wanted would end up being harmful to us. I told him how I felt and we agreed to disagree. I didn’t change my position but I also did not berate him or continually bring it up. Later, after other things had taken place, he changed his position and was grateful that I had held strong.
Common sense will pretty well tell me when I am in the wrong with my position. If I feel I must hold to my position and there is still peace, I might be ok. If there is discord, confusion, anger, broken relationships and chaos, I need to reconsider. Jesus changed His position from heaven to earth. While He was here, however, He held tightly to the Father’s will. My problem is that I can decide that my position is God’s will - God said.... - and ignore the path of destruction I am leaving behind me. So, it’s wise to consider my position very carefully.
One of my favorite Scriptures is Philippians 2:3-4, NAS, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others .”
To me, that is such a difficult, yet important, Scripture. Nothing! Do nothing - not one single thing - from selfishness or empty conceit. Wow. Have humility of mind. Have humility about my positions, about where I have “set my mind.” Maybe I can maintain my position, but do it in a more loving way. Maybe I can put other’s needs ahead of my own. Two people can stand on opposite sides of a tree, describe what they see, and you would think they were looking at two different trees. Same tree - different position. Neither is wrong, but we end with fighting with each other over similar silly things. I could have held to my position that it was someone else’s fault that my hat was missing but it would have been pretty ridiculous. I know that sounds like a petty thing. After all, it’s a dumb hat. It’s still a good example of what we can do to ourselves when we are stubborn.
Perspective can only be changed if I take on the mind of Christ. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” That being the case - let’s use it!
Pespective, the way I see things, is quite subjective. Ten people can hear the same sermon and come away with ten different perspectives on what was said and what was meant. Collins English Dictionary defines perspective this way - a particular perspective is a particular way of thinking about something, especially one that is influenced by your beliefs or experience. I would say it is shaped by both. My beliefs, my experiences, my preferences, and my position all influence my perspective. It is important to be in the correct position in order to have the correct perspective. Our position should always be in Christ. Our perspective should be His because we are submitted to Him, filled with the Holy Spirit, in the Word and doing our best to be like Him.
Next week I will finish up and put the “P’s” together! In the meantime - meditate on the Scriptures and see what God will reveal to you.