5 Keys to Lasting Change

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Change happens in everyone’s life. Sometimes our first reaction to change is fear. Sometimes our first reaction is to buckle down and resist. Sometimes we dive completely into change and sometimes run from it.

How we ultimately decide to handle change determines our success or failure in life. Fortunately, we can decide to change how we handle change.

The best way I’ve personally found to handle change — both the change that comes whether I want it to or not and the change I take initiative to make — is to lean on that which does not change.

When Nehemiah was presented with an opportunity to bring about change, he could have simply ignored the internal tug. He could have continued as cup bearer to the king and lived a comfortable, safe life. He chose instead to lead change. Before he took any action, though, he anchored himself on the eternal God who never changes.

Nehemiah’s Example

Nehemiah is often studied for his obvious leadership characteristics such as integrity, humbleness, courage, compassion and focus. Nehemiah also provides a tremendous example of how to institute lasting change that endures through struggles.

Nehemiah traveled over 500 miles to lead change with a group of people who were stuck in brokenness for over a decade. He then motivates the people of Jerusalem to work toward significant and lasting change. Nehemiah’s example during this transformation gives several points to consider regarding how to institute lasting change in our own lives.

5 Keys to Lasting Change

Far more than just a city, Jerusalem represented an identity for the Jewish nation. The city and its wall told of the Jews connection (or lack of it) to God. When Nehemiah heard that the city walls and the people’s connection to God were in shambles, he chose to take action. God then used Nehemiah to transform His people.

Nehemiah’s approach to change, as directed by God through prayer, can teach us a tremendous amount about how to make change in our own lives.

  1. Stay organized. Nehemiah always had a plan in place, but he was also flexible as needed. Staying organized allows progress to continue even when chaos surrounds. In fact, reorganizing even when chaos seems in control can be extremely helpful.
  2. Be resourceful. Nehemiah asked the king for help, he asked the people and leaders of Jerusalem for help, and he found creative ways to continue the work even while opposition threatened. You’ll find resourcefulness present in the lives of all great leaders and heroes because change rarely happens in its absence.
  3. Persevere. Nehemiah had a plan, a specific purpose, and a steady persistence through difficulties, obstacles and discouragement. He kept moving forward regardless of what the opposition said or did. He persevered because he was centered on God’s will.
  4. Be consistent. Nehemiah consistently prayed, stayed organized and remained resourceful. Consistency shows reliable character, a necessary element for lasting change, and that’s the type of person others will follow through change.
  5. Be reliant. Above all, Nehemiah’s example shows the importance of relying on God. Nehemiah prayed regularly, even spending months praying and fasting before taking action. Because he relied on God, his approach to lasting change took hold in a powerful way.

Whether we are in need of complete rebuilding like the walls and people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time or we recognize the call of God in our hearts to institute change in some way, these key provide a solid approach for managing that change. Most importantly, Nehemiah’s example of anchoring himself in an unchanging God provides the single most important key for change to truly endure.

DISCUSSION: What other keys do you find essential for lasting change, either by way of experience or through another’s example?

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12 Replies to “5 Keys to Lasting Change”

  1. The only constant in life is change. We can resist change but ask the Grand Canyon what happened when it resisted the change that the Colorado River began thousands of years ago? Maturity and change go hand in hand.

  2. I find I am horrible at the first point, getting and staying organized. Yet I know from experience that having a plan and a list of to do and trying to stay on track are important if I want to accomplish my goal. I think the word that comes to me is focus. I need to focus on who my leader is, Jesus. In Him I can do all things, even make changes that don't come easily.

    1. Amazing how he fills in the gaps created by our weaknesses. That's the beauty of making changes that don't come easily… he more easily gets the glory because we know it's all him.

  3. Hi Kari! Sorry it has taken me so long to get an answer to this. I remember Chuck Swindoll's quote; "Change is inevitable; misery is optional." I try to keep that in mind whenever I am confronted by change. Change is not as hard on me as on others. I like change. But there are times I also like routine. But when change comes I try to remember Chuck's quote, but also my attitude toward it. Am I fighting against it and for what reason? is it a good change? Will it reach people and make their lives different or better?
    My recent post Control

    1. You've hit on a huge key about change that I wasn't sure came through or not. We so often live reacting to it, and that certainly creates an added level of stress. Being on the offensive instead in the way we manage change, which is coming either way, creates a much more mature approach to change management. A lifelong learning process to be sure, but one that definitely takes you to a whole other level of effectiveness.

  4. Kari,
    I think we should spend time considering how whatever change is happening could be beneficial. A lot of time we focus on perceived negatives of a change. To grow we must change. We need to embrace change and all of it's breath. The heartache as well as the growth it provides. We should evaluate our lives and look for areas that need change and we need to make this a habit that we do on some periodic basis.

    1. Good perspective, Mark. Change, perhaps, is neutral to a great extent. It's how we react or adapt or whatever that's positive or negative. We can be proactive with some change, but we can also develop depth of character in order to positively react to change that we can't predict. Evaluating our lives regularly certainly is key. Great point!

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