The recent hot spell has seen us indulging in ice-cream in our household! Enjoying a 99 ice-cream reminded me of recent newspaper articles citing ice-cream sellers’ dismay when finding their Cadbury flakes were now ‘too flaky’ for the classic ice-cream.
Apparently, a shift in production sites left vendors complaining the choccy sticks were now too crumbly for use. Understandably, their paying customers couldn’t be served a 99 with a broken flake, and some sellers have turned to German ‘milk chocolate flaked sticks’ as alternatives.
What has a broken flake on a 99-ice-cream got to do with church administration I hear you ask? Good question....bear with me....!
Sometimes, there are changes that lie completely outside of our control – (just like your local ice-cream van man having no say in Cadbury moving their flake production to Egypt). Now I’m not going to assume that ALL church administrators like to be in control, but let’s be honest...many of us do! Having to manage circumstances out of our control creates internal stress and strain.
Many of us struggle with change. We’re not the innovating or early adopting types, and we wish the future focused ‘change bunnies’ would slow down for a minute and help us see the value of the change they’re championing. Often, we need to be convinced that risks have been weighed, and we need time to think through the details that will take us from the present to the future. We need to know that dragging our teams and congregations through this change is going to be worth it in the long run.
The thing is, even if we like things to be predicable and familiar, we serve a God of adventure who is always encouraging his church to move forwards and not stagnate.
Jesus calls us to a risky faith-filled journey that requires us to rely completely on Him and not our own skills and resources. Although God’s loving character is unchangeable, He won’t let us stay unchanged, settled, or self-reliant. He calls us to fail forwards, to move and to grow.
If things are changing around you right now, if stress and strain are part of your working day and your heart and mind feel unsettled or even anxious then pause for a moment.
Firstly, look up. Think big picture. You may not feel in control, but your loving father God IS. He’s sovereign, and ‘He will never leave you, nor forsake you’, so you can have confidence that ‘the Lord is my helper’ (Hebrews 13) during your changing situation.
Secondly, don’t stress on the detail too much but focus instead on the relationships.
Sometimes, we can be so anxious about the detail, that we ignore the things that really matter - the people God has given us to work alongside, lead, befriend, love, or parent. God is far more concerned with how we treat PEOPLE during changing times, than whether our critical paths and budgets are on track.
I had the pleasure of eating a 99 ice-cream with my beautiful teenager daughter, in a local park with the sun shining on our faces. Yes, the flake was crumblier than I would have liked or had previously experienced. But – eyes up to the bigger picture - I was grateful to God for His creation we were enjoying. And focusing on her – we talked about what’s was important in her life right now, and she filled my heart with her joyful presence as we laughed together. Focusing on that, the flake became unimportant, even though it had changed.
As things around you change, I pray that you’ll know the reassuring presence and provision of our sovereign God, and that you’ll be able to value and enjoy the relationships He’s given you at this time.