Friday, June 12, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Change

Change is on the horizon
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

Dorothy Law Nolte penned a poem in 1972 about how children learn. The poem is titled, 
“Children Learn What They Live.” 

I found it to be captivating and relevant to our modern times. For the purposes of this devotional, I’d like to share the full poem with you. This is what it says:

Children Learn What They Live
A poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte.

Most people learn best by watching and hearing. Surgeons learn their craft like carpenters and plumbers. “See one, do one, teach one” is a humorous saying. The same is true of employee/employer relationships. The corporate culture is visually instructive.

Visual learning is also true of mentees and mentors, privates and sergeants, lieutenants and generals. Too often, though, management is backward looking and focused on duplicating past successes. Too often, leadership leans forward, simply to hone effective techniques of management, motivation and in worst-case scenarios, manipulation.

In this way the cycle of culture becomes a narrowing vortex of perception that can become tribal, insecure and defensive. Pretty soon we no longer see what is around us, but what is within us. Ana├»s Nin, a 20th century essayist memorably coined the phrase “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” We see as we are, until some event shocks us into a blinding, new realization which demands that we rapidly adjust and ultimately change.

We are there. However, ideally, transformational leadership is a catalyst not merely a reaction.

Transforming a culture requires iconic, positive thought leaders who create new realities by casting infectious visions of things that never were but can be.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not.”

Jesus Christ was like that. He was a visionary leader who transformed an ancient culture in three years. In the past nine days, we have watched a transformation of the American spirit.

A new generation of young people has galvanized a movement that envisions and is demanding a new era of social justice.

Perhaps what we have seen is a fulfillment of a prophecy from the Old Testament prophet Joel who said in Joel 2:28 (KJV), “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

Perhaps, as in the second chapter of the Bible book of Acts, the Spirit of God is pouring out a 21st century Pentecost. Can you see the flames? Not the ones of riotous behavior, but the incandescence of brotherly love? Can you feel the passion of the people who are marching in advocacy of equal justice and reforms of the judicial system?

There is a movement going on. God is shifting the atmosphere in American culture. This movement is intergenerational and multi-ethnic. It has forced liberals and conservatives, military and civilian, Democrats and Republicans to agree that our society has reached a tipping point.

Changes are imminent. The B.C. (Before Covid-19) era has expired. New horizons, new perspectives and new initiatives are flowing like springs into a desert. May they converge and form a river of providential fulfillment that not only counts everybody but make everyone count.

Let’s be on the right side of this prophetic fulfillment.

Let’s embrace the changes and lionize the leaders rather than resist and demonize the ineffable.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps. 

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

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