"Be the change you want to see in the world"
I have worked in some truly great places and also in some very dysfunctional places. I like the word dysfunctional because it suggests that the predominant way of relating to one another inhibits the designed function. I worked at a Health Center when I first moved to Cleveland that was so dysfunctional that their culture became an excuse in itself. I would ask about the availability of routine immunizations that were needed for children, and the response would be "You know how we are", or "Do you know where you are?". Because of poor systems, terrible accountability, administrative incompetence, and indifference to the suffering of many, this clinic would offer sub-standard care. It was never anyone's fault; it was always the "system". It is dysfunction that has been institutionalized.
Many of the readers of this blog may relate to having had lived, worked or volunteered in a dysfunctional environment. Whether it be a family, workplace, or even the church.
What's interesting is our reactions. We react to dysfunction in several ways:
1. We accept and normalize the dysfunction. Dysfunction becomes the rule for relating.
2. We accept the tension between the dysfunction and our desired way of relating and we complain by asking others to fix it. Victimized by dysfunction and immobilized by pain or fear. Able to see the problems, but unwilling to do anything about it.
3. We can avoid the problems by always looking for the perfect place. In this paradigm, there is always a better family, a better job, a better church, a better relationshp.
3. We accept the tension but devote ourselves to be instruments of change. The sense of dysfunction in this case actually drives us towards being a solution to our own problems.
Third century Church leader, Augustine, once made the following disturbing comment: "The church is a whore, but she is our mother". Augustine realized that the church was fraught by problems and issues. However, their solution was not to ignore the problems or avoid the problems, but to be a solution to our problems.
We need a paradigm shift where we embrace discontent as a call to invoke change. The infamous poem by Marianne Williamson that states "Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure" is true. We are called to agents for good, no matter what the circumstances. We give away our God-ordained power when we insist on others changing things while we do nothing. We used to speak of "seasons, reasons, and lifetimes" back in the day. This phrase suggests that we have purpose in whatever situations we find ourselves in. Is it possible to go from complainer to catalyst?
Today, can you see yourself as instrument of change, divinely appointed, commissioned, and directed to bring peace and fruitfulness? It begins with just understanding who you are and the power that you have. It is followed by, as my Mentor Mike McFarren describes: relentless pressure to achieve a particular goal.
Don't get caught up in whose fault it is, but take time to focus on the mission of the organization and simply point people toward that mission. Martin Luther King Jr., could have developed an organization that was anti-White. Yet, he built his movement, its ministry, and its tactics around a solid mission of equality for all. In the same way, we must understand that our ability to act as catalysts for change is not motivated by problems, but by a misson and vision of hope. You are that agent of hope, in dysfunction and despair.
I want to encourage you today to be an instrument of change. Be part of the solution to whatever is wrong. Never accept that there is nothing you can do to help change the world. Once you have, you have begun dying. You are the missing ingredient for change in your families, friends, workplace and church.
May God blesss you,
Pastor M Traylor