REPENT! REPENT! REPENT!
We've all heard that before. We can even visualize the old scruffy guy from the cartoons with the sandwich board sign: "REPENT! The End is Near!"
We can also remember the tears of repentance we shed when we came to Christ—tears of sorrow for our past and tears of joy for our new future. For most of us the word REPENT is forever tied to those tears. When we think repent, we think of sorrow and regret. "I'm sorry for what I did, or didn't do." We sadly and contritely repent for our bad behavior or bad thinking.
Those tears and the emotion are genuine and appropriate. However, they color our understanding of repentance as a thing of sorrow and cause many of us to miss the importance of the words of John the Baptizer in the wilderness: "Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand." As well as the very same words recorded one chapter later in Matthew, this time in the mouth of Jesus on the shores of Galilee.
While sorrow is a part of the repentance experience for many, it is not the core of the concept.
Certainly Jesus and his cousin, John, were not soliciting sorrow and tears. Rather they were calling for change in thinking. Many of you will already be aware that the accurate meaning of repent is to change one's mind or to adopt another view, to think differently. Those that heard the challenge of Jesus had an understanding of the kingdom of heaven that needed to be rethought. The kingdom was no longer a far off possibility; it was now "at hand."
A little study of the Greek word used in these biblical passages reveals that the sense of the change of mind indicated is more than a simple function of the intellect alone. It carries the sense of change that reaches beyond the intellect to the will and emotions of the individual.
More than some mental ascent to a new or different concept, it is the change of a mindset or a life paradigm that results in a different course. As if one "repented of traveling North and then travels East or even South. That would be a true repentance, a true change of thinking.
I spend a significant amount of time coaching business people. Many are startups in the construction arena. Most construction businesses are started by craftsmen who know their "trade" and have spent years perfecting their craft skills, and, hopefully, their people skills while working for someone else. The missing piece for virtually all of these entrepreneurs is the business piece. They know how to produce the product; they don't know how to run a business.
This would be true for virtually all small-business start-ups, regardless of the market they are in whether it's retail, insurance, auto repair, restaurant or advertising. The pattern is the same. They know their product.
They know they can make a better mousetrap. Only a fortunate few have been able to pick up the requisite business skills along the way.
Sadly, most do not realize they are deficient in this critical area. They are full of blue-sky optimism and sincerely believe that they can do this business better than their old boss ever did. If they are to survive, not to mention succeed, they need to change their thinking. They need a paradigm shift. They need a mindset reset.
They need to REPENT.
If I tell these business people that—using that word—they will miss the point. Their mind will go down the religious path following the meaning of the word as we have experienced it over the past couple of centuries or more.
So, I use another word—RETHINK!
Placing the prefix "re" before most verbs in English adds the idea of "again" to the word: reconsider, realign, restructure, refinance. This is exactly what Jesus and John were calling their listeners to do.
Think again about your belief system. Consider again your understanding of the kingdom of heaven. Then, change your course.
We all need to RETHINK from time to time. Whether our pressing issue is in the spiritual sphere, or business, family, relationship or personal; we need to reassess what our mindset is regarding the issue we are facing. What is the mental framework we hang around the issue, the story we tell ourselves about it?
When we think we know what we know on a subject, we are in need of a RETHINK. Just like the business startup folks, we don't know what we don't know. If we were to REDESCRIBE our belief system on the subject/issue honestly, then REIMAGINE what it could be, or perhaps should be, then we could begin to visualize the course correction required to reach a solution.
Some of us can do that on our own. Most of us will find the process will work better and faster if we have a trusted peer, confidant or coach to provide feedback as we attempt a genuine RETHINK.
Wherever you are, whatever your issue, take heed to the challenge of Jesus: RETHINK!
Gary Carnahan earned his bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in biblical studies at a Pentecostal Bible College. He spent the next 10 years helping build a mechanical contracting company to 800 employees and earned his MBA before launching and running his own firm for 30 years. At the same time, he traveled the world teaching and speaking in churches and at missions events. Today he coaches business and organization leaders at home and abroad. You can reach him at 602.402.9340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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