I was asked a question recently as part of a staff retreat day: When was the last time you changed your beliefs? It’s not an easy question, but a good one.
Why I don’t like changing my mind
Changing my mind about what I believe is true has a lot of drawbacks. It means accepting that previously I was wrong. That knocks my pride. Given that I can sometimes (because of what I do and the way I am) be quite vocal about my beliefs, it means admitting to others I was wrong. That really knocks my pride. Also, because our belief systems are a whole organic body of interconnected ideas, it means having to rethink a lot of other things, and learning how to do things differently in light of it all. That’s effort. Also, changing my mind about things I used to think reminds of the very real possibility that things I believe now are also wrong. I was wrong before, I could be again. That’s probably pride again.
So, mostly I don’t like changing my mind because I’m prideful, but also a bit because I’m lazy.
It’s far easier to decide something is right and then just stick with it for life, being able to hold to it tightly with a clenched fist that will never be prised open.
Why I have to change my mind
Here’s the thing, though. That’s not good enough. It may be easier to have beliefs and ideas of truth that are like that, but that doesn’t make it right. And after all, I believe that truth is to be entered into with a limp, not a stride.
I need to change my mind about things because (as much as I might not like to admit it) I can be wrong about things. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and still have all the same convictions I do now, because it means I won’t have discovered all the ways I’m wrong about things now. I’m fallen. I’m broken. I’m wrong.
But I don’t want to stay that way if I can help it.
So, how about it?
Perhaps I can see the benefit in letting go of some beliefs in favour of new ones because I have changed my mind quite a bit recently. Here are some examples:
- My beliefs about the fundamental goodness and badness of humanity has shifted significantly recently.
- My understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit has changed quite a bit in the last year.
- I have a different view of ‘mission’ than I used to.
- My view of what preaching should look like has drastically changed in recent times (though I don’t always demonstrate that in practice – see above, re. pride and effort).
- I no longer have a view of language, words and grammar that see them as unchanging. Language evolves, words don’t have fixed meanings. This has been a pretty big thing for me (also, check this out!).
Some of you reading this may have been on the receiving end of rants about some of those pre-change (especially the grammar one…) If so, sorry about that!
So, what about you? When was the last time you changed your mind? And when will be the next time?