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Southland Christian Ministry Training

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How To Change The World

This week in my reading I came across an anonymous epitaph that is written on a tomb at Westminster Abbey:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realize if only  I had changed myself first, then by my example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have been able to better my country and who knows, I may have even changed the world.” (Quoted by Jim Clemmer in Growing the Distance, ISBN 0-96845675-0-4, p78).

The fact is the only person we can really change is ourselves! As Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian nationalist and spiritual leader put it “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” We all want to change the people around us, our parents, our partners, our kids, our bosses or our workmates, but it just doesn’t work that way. I’m reminded of the story about the middle aged man who comes home to visit his elderly parents, and finally fesses up to the fact that his wife has left him, he is financially bankrupt and now has nowhere to live. They are horrified, and all he can say is “where did you go wrong?”

So, quit trying to blame somebody else for the mess you are in, and begin to take responsibility for both the good and the bad. You have the power to change yourself, to become a better husband, father, mother, son or daughter, and it all starts with a choice. Refuse to be the victim, take control of your life and start being and becoming the person you want to be. I am not saying that it will be easy, but I am saying that it will be worth it! If that seems impossible then I have one final offer, God has promised each of us a new start IF we are prepared to ask for it! If you want to talk about it, you know where to find me…

Chaplain Ian Whitley

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