Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How To Avoid Letting Tradition and the Past Paralyze You

This past weekend my wife and I stayed in a hotel overlooking Reliant Stadium in Houston where their pro football team plays and other large stadium events are held. The arena is a beautiful facility, modern and impressive especially at first glance.

However, right next to it stands a large, greyish, starkly naked building that looks like it was once something but clearly no longer has any usefulness. I eventually found out that it's the once famous Astrodome, the first building of its kind built decades ago.

I couldn't believe it is still around. I actually had a tour of it with my wife and small son in the early 80's. It was unique, brand new and something we'd certainly never seen the likes of before. But it's none of those things now.  Its presence alone is stealing from the attractiveness of the new stadium.

I thought they must have torn it down at least once they built the current stadiums. It turns out there are some people, a council, historians or someone who has influence who don't want to get rid of it just yet.

I found myself thinking that's the way a lot of families, churches, neighborhoods and other organizations are. The leaders and people in general are more committed to their memories of the past than doing something to change the future. They long for the good old days and so they hang on to habits, traditions, ways of doing things and vision that are really hurting themselves and those around them, often causing an organizational or familial paralysis.

Is your family, church or other group still hanging on to their version of the Astrodome just because you or they don't want to let go of a memory?  If you're honest, has it hamstrung your growth and change?

If so, think about doing a couple of things where you have influence. First, keep celebrating the goodness and good people of the past. It's uplifting to now and then look at old pictures, tell great stories of bygone days and honor those whose efforts have helped you be what you are today. Tradition isn't a bad thing unless it becomes the only thing or the major motivation behind what we do today.

Second, take time to grieve or at least be sad about situations, people or things in the past that you don't enjoy in the same way. Thinking honestly about those items will help you both emotionally begin to let go and start to free you over time to move on even though it's hard. Keep some appropriate momentos of the past but limit them and don't let them run your life any more.

Third, tear down, put away or throw away those Astrodomes in your world. In a family, those might involve traditions that you just don't need to keep up any more or being involved in an activity that has outworn its purpose. Many church leaders need to finally get rid of a traditional service, add a new style of service or change other things in a major way.

Fourth, celebrate the newness and change in your life, family or church. I'm confident that healthy, God-directed change will bring new life into you and those around you just like a new stadium, house or town hall does for a city. Start somewhere, be honest, but don't stay paralyzed.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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