Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Thrive, not just Survive

In the past year and a half, we've spent time in a number of churches. Two stood out to me as churches that are "thriving."

- grow vigorously
- make steady progress
- to flourish
- grow fast and stay healthy

Others appeared to be merely surviving. They weren't dying, by any means, but they were just plugging along doing what they had always been doing.

I find myself in plain old surviving mode periodically. Okay, that was a lie. I spend most of my time in that mode. Not dying, but definitely not thriving, just surviving.

I'll think of my marriage and say, "It's good. It's way better now than it was a few years ago. Sure, it could probably be better. But we're okay."

The same can often be said of my walk with God, family, finances, and ministry... "I'm fine." Not great, not amazing, not fantastic, but fine.

Surviving = fine. Thriving = better.

So here's what I noticed at those two churches that are thriving - the one thing that stood out as different about them. They were (and are) changing. Always changing. Constantly tweaking. Willing to try new things, welcoming to new people and ideas, open to allowing God's direction - even if it meant making the occasional U-turn.

So how does one move beyond surviving to thriving?

Do something new. Try something different. Accept suggestions. Be open and willing to change direction, even if it means heading in the opposite way from which you were going.

Yep, change can be scary. Terrifying, even. But things that are static, unchanging, immovable - they cannot grow. Eventually their resistance to change will lead to death.

A marriage that is okay for too long, without new inspiration or true investment in growing together, becomes one with difficult patches. The ministry that keeps the same old six people in charge for years at a time, without the introduction of new people with fresh ideas, becomes stale. The faith walk that coasts with God, without going out on a limb to try doing something truly sacrificial for Him, becomes stagnant.

In order to thrive, we need to be brave. Brave enough to stop doing the same old stuff and try something new.

But forget all that —
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
~ Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT, emphasis mine)

What are of your life are you simply surviving in right now? What change can you implement so that you might begin to thrive?


  1. Okay, well this may sound odd, because it often seems we measure thriving and success by what and how much we are doing. But, I feel God tugging me to a life of simplicity which means for me fulfilling current commitments, and then slowing things down. I have recently put aside much of my to-do and have spent more time being with the One I love :D Thriving!!!!

  2. My relationships with my kids are "surviving" most days. I really want to spend time with them, one-on-one, but so often just get busy with what "needs" to be done around the house. I am going to be very intentional with my time and make sure that my kids come before the dishes :) We only have this opportunity once, to be with them all the time. I'm choosing to cherish every moment!


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