Sermon for November 26, 2017

November 26th, 2017

Kenny Beeson, Guest Preacher

Be a Change Leader like Jesus

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.  Many of you know that I am involved in the Boy Scouts of America and when I came back from National Jamboree this year I had a new sense of understanding and information for the program and Religion.  I will talk about this more as we go through today.  I spend time teaching youth so this will be a bit interactive today.   There will be some questions that I will look for answers.

How many of you experienced Change this month? This Week?  Even today?  I am here and John is sitting there, that is a change from our normal Sunday ritual.  Change is a fact of life.  Change is a source of anxiety for many people, but it doesn’t have to be.  Change can be a valuable tool for leadership.  We all possess leadership qualities and we all lead at some point in our lives.  Think about with our children, co-workers, others here at church.  The little things we do can have an impact on how change happens.

The first thing I want to ask is what promotes change?  A Catalyst, how can we act like a catalyst? Stephanie Zamora put it like this: “Start a revolution of your life and soul around whatever cause you’re most passionate about. Live it, breathe it, be it, and speak it. Let your life and passion be an example others will follow. Don’t force others to believe what you believe.  Instead, act as a catalyst for inspired action and change. “

 What is change without structure? Change without structure is Chaos.  There is no true direction for an end game so many times this turns into change for the sake of change.

 Why do we resist change? We are Comfortable, Traditional, Habitual animals

Here are some choices we have in how we can react to change.

  • We can be fearful of change and resistant to it, but that allows change to control us
  • We can accept changes and try to make the most of them. That’s better, but causes us to adapt to changes that are already occurring.
  • We can lead change by taking responsibility for steering changes in the best possible directions. That approach not only accepts the inevitability of change, but also does something about determining the outcome of change.

 What is happening in the world today? Social Media, information overload, gun violence, segregation, defiance against authority, etc.

The Bible has many scriptures to help us with change.  I found the one out of Romans to be the most inspiring for today’s lesson:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

In my life there are some major changes happening that revolve around scouting.  Here is a picture of the boys we took to National Jamboree.  In the two weeks we were there, these boys changed dramatically by becoming more self-reliant and mature.  Many of them had leadership roles that played into keeping each other safe through experiences they encountered in Washington DC and in West Virginia.  It was one of my highlights to watch them grow and come together as a team.

Some of the changes in Scouting have received many different opinions and have been in the news lately.  They are the recent decision with letting girls register with the BSA and the big controversy in allowing openly gay people to register as participants and leaders.  I would like to clarify a few points on this.  First The BSA has taken the stance that while it is possible for anyone to register, it is up to the charter organization to allow or not allow an openly gay person to participate and the BSA will back any of these decisions.  Second the BSA has allowed girls to register as Explorer Scouts since 1969 in the Sea and career exploration units. These programs were reorganized in 1998 to Venturing Crews and Learning for Life. That is almost 49 years ago.  These programs service the youth ages 14-21 that are ready to lead a team through major challenges and obstacles by using outdoor activities that are classified high adventure or by leading career exploration through high schools.  The change that was announced a couple months ago allows girls to register as a Cub Scout or within the Boy Scout programs. These are the youth ages 5 to 14.  I am encouraged with this change.  This aligns the United States to be more in-line with Scouts around the world.    There are 216 countries and territories that have scouting programs today with many of these not delineating between girls and boys.  They are all scouts.  While at National Jamboree I met a young girl around the age of 11 from Argentina.  She talked about some of the similarities and differences that she saw from things at Jamboree but the main difference was everyone in her unit were just scouts.  There was no separation or changes in the program.  They all lived the underlying principles of Scouting, our Scout Oath, and Scout Law.

I also found out a few weeks ago that there was a plan back in 1970 to combine the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.  This is interesting because during this time they were working together and trying to make a youth organization that would work.  Today the BSA has just opened up the option for all youth keeping Girl Scouts of America a separate option for girls.

The main item I am most excited about is it puts us all on a level playing field professionally.  How many of you have heard of an Ambassadorship? Do you know the basis behind this level?  Okay, how many of you have heard of an Eagle Scout?  How many of you know the basis behind this level?  Some of the merit badges the boys do are cooking, personal fitness, personal management, first aid, camping etc: 21 needed with leadership in the Troop, and today the girl scouts do first aid, On my Own, Dinner Party, Ultimate Recreation Challenge etc, 19 badges needed plus leadership in the troop. This change allows girls to be recognized in the accomplishments that they already do.

Let us take a look at the scripture that was read.  Jesus is speaking to the scribes of the law and to the Pharisees.  These leaders are taking advantage of people through the use of the written word.  Jesus is telling them to follow the laws of God in the way it is written but not by the actions of the Pharisees.  They have lost their way over time but through Jesus the way to eternal life.

The scripture continues with Jesus calling the leaders hypocrites six times about actions that are not matching what they preach.

Matthew 23 verse 15 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.“  This is talking about converting someone to follow God, and because the Pharisees are not following what they teach the new follower is confused and follows the actions of the leaders as right rather than the Word of God.

Jesus was a leader of change, he setup his life to move on to the next thing.  He came to the Earth when we as humans were in a bad place, not much different in many issues as what we have today.  He then started to teach his disciples through action.

Jesus did this through “servant leadership”.  This is a topic for another day.

I believe that Jesus was guiding us to go back to fundamentals of the bible and the 10 commandments. These are our foundations that should guide us in what we need to move towards.  This world is in turmoil and needs these guiding principles more than ever.  One of the other things that I learned while at Jamboree was that out of all the religions of the world, not just Christianity, we all have similar principles or commandments to follow and a many of them can be traced back to Father Abraham.  It is amazing that we have progressed so far beyond the foundations and cannot see that we are all brothers and sisters.  Just like the Pharisees in the scripter that progressed beyond the Word of God, and were not able to see past a threat that they made Jesus into, we should take a look at ourselves to make changes in our beliefs and values then try to help those to see we are not so different.  To accomplish this we need to become a leader of change.

Here are some steps that we can use to help lead change:  Step 1 – Recognize that Change Happens.  Realizes that change is inevitable, this helps people begin to look for the effects that changes have upon their lives.  They can then begin to explore the opportunities they have for shaping the results of change.  They can also start to anticipate change and outcomes of those changes.  Accept change.  The more quickly that you can let go of the old way of doing things and accept the new, the sooner you can enjoy the opportunities the new situation presents.

Step 2 – Empower Others to Help You Lead Change.  Change is much easier to lead when others buy into new ideas and become supporting players in developing a positive future.  Consider who needs to be involved. Seek out people that have a willingness to change things for the better, have the position, expertise, and credibility to enact change, and have leadership and management skills to guide change.  Build on relationships through shared experiences.  These experiences can give common ground for embracing and moving with change. Jesus did this with his disciples.  He picked each one based on skills, leadership qualities, and credibility.

Step 3 – Lead Change Based on Values, Mission, and Vision.   Alice in Wonderland comes to a fork in the road and finds the Cheshire Cat resting on a branch.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

To lead change you need to know where we are headed. What is Vision? Our youth at NYLT learn this principle as It is what future success looks like.  We talked about values of the BSA which are core beliefs or desires that guide and motivate our attitudes and actions.  To accomplish vision you have to create a plan.  A plan with goals is the nuts and bolts to leading change.  It is the blueprint for making the changes that will fulfill the vision.

Step 4 – Establish Urgency.  People need a compelling reason to change.  Without urgency, great ideas may sit on the shelf for years.  An example is with bar codes, they were devised in the 1950s but languished as a marketing idea until the 1980s.  Key techniques in communicating urgency for change are Simplicity, Leadership by example, multiple forums, repetition, explanation of seeming inconsistencies, and metaphors analogy and examples.

Step 5 – Move Ahead, Regardless.   Some people are so resistant to change that you may not be able to bring them along.  Think about how the end happened to Jesus.  The Pharisees that he was speaking about did not change their ways.  They saw the change as a threat to their positions and didn’t see what could have become if things were different.  Encourage those individuals anyway.  As change occurs they may become enthusiastic about what they see happening as decide to come on board or decide that they don’t want to be left behind.  If they simply cannot or will not change, they will eventually remove themselves from a dynamic situation or will discover that the situation has moved on without them.

Step 6 – Create a Culture That Embraces Change.  An important goal of leading change is to create a culture that embraces the need for change and that seeks in out willingly, effectively, and with a sense of eagerness and anticipation.

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.  If the world around us were constant, we wouldn’t need to change.  Everything would stay the same, and so could we.  It would be easy, though in the absence of change we would be bored right out of our minds.  The way to embrace change at a personal level is through lifelong learning.  We have to continue to better understand things by learning new skills, new ideas, and new ways of thinking about situations.  Insanity by definition is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Without learning something new and trying that you will never move forward.

How many of you have woken up and looked at yourself saying, dang I am not in High School anymore.  Or when you go to a restaurant and the waitress doesn’t ask for your ID when you order a glass of wine.  Or when your kids start High School, which will be next year for me.  Or you look in the mirror and there are defined laugh lines, that one gray hair that pops out or maybe the forehead becomes a bit longer. Or an ache that wasn’t there before.  Life is short and in constant flux, here is how Aerosmith puts it from their song Dream On:

Every time when I look in the mirror

All these lines on my face getting clearer

The past is gone

It went by, like dusk to dawn

Isn’t that the way

Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay

I know nobody knows

Where it comes and where it goes

I know it’s everybody sin

You got to lose to know how to win

Half my life

Is books, written pages

Live and learn from fools and

From sages

You know it’s true, oh

All these feelings come back to you

Sing with me, sing for the years

Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears

Sing with me, just for today

Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away

Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to speak of your World today.  Your hand in our lives shows us how the world is ever changing and how each of us could take the lead to help others accept the new world.  Be with us as we look inwards for strength and understanding and outwards for help and support.  We are not along and with your guidance through others we can move mountains.  We are here to accomplish your work through our short time on Earth so that we can be ready to continue your work in Heaven.  Be with us through this week and open our hearts to feel you change us to be better Christians.  In Jesus Name, Amen.