Start/Stop/Continue

My Christian walk is a continual journey of discovery – learning who the person is that God ordained me to be and then trying to live faithfully to that.  One of my very favourite pieces of scripture is Romans 12:2.  In the New Living Translation, it reads thus:

“Don’t copy the behaviours and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect. “

I think that it describes very succinctly, the process of learning to be who God wants you to be.  You have to let him tranform the way you think.  Note the word “let” – you have to submit yourself to his will, listen to what he has to say and act on it.

Recently, I was praying with a few friends in church on just this subject – that God would show us the things that he wanted to change in our lives.  While praying, I was reminded of a process we’ve used in a work context called Start/Stop/Continue.  It’s a pretty simple tool whereby you brainstorm lists of things that you or your team need to start doing, stop doing and (yes, you’ve guessed it) continue to do in order to develop in the way you plan to.  You then revisit the lists at intervals to see how well you’re doing against them.  I was struck though by how well it would work as a list of categories for the changes God needs to make in our lives:

START

This is probably the easiest one.  What new things do you need to start doing in order to develop as you hope to – hopefully as God wants you to.  Maybe reading more?  Spending more time in prayer?  Helping your minister visit people?  Starting or leading a new ministry?  New things are often outside of our current comfort zones but it’s by stepping beyond our limitations and into something new that we grow and develop.

Generally, we’re all very good and starting off on a journey of development by grabbing a new habit or role.  However, we mustn’t forget that there are also things we need to …

STOP

OK now it gets a little harder.  What do you do now that you need to stop doing in order to develop?  The obvious answer is to lose some bad habits but we might also have to stop doing some things that we really enjoy.  You may love leading the Alpha Course for your church, but perhaps it’s now time to hand that over to someone new?  It’ll be a chance for them to develop but crucially it will allow you space to grow in the way God has planned for you.  If your hands are already full, it’s really hard to pick up something new.  While thinking about this, I called to mind Hebrews 12:1 which reads (in part):

“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race that God has put before us.”

I love that image of an athlete getting ready to run – removing everything not essential to winning the race.  That’s how it needs to be with us too so let’s ask God what he wants us to lay aside as well as what he wants us to pick up.

CONTINUE

Chances are you are doing some things right now which are essential to your development into the preson God created you to be.  So clearly it’s important that you keep on doing these things.  Equally as Christians there are some core truths which, whatever we do, must not change and we shouldn’t deviate from.  Pastor Rick Warren gave an excellent TED lecture on the subject of “Staying Relevant” in which he urged the audience to ask themselves:

“What must change?”  but equally importantly “What must never change?”  There’s a link to the talk here – it’s well worth a watch.

What do you need to keep on doing?  What must remain constant in your life and ministry?

Let’s take time and pray, asking God to show us the things he wants us to start, stop and coninue in our lives.  Let him transform you into the person you were created to be.

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