Small Change; Big Change

“I need to start going home to Arizona each weekend,” the long-time campaign manager told the candidate, “but I’ll be back here in Idaho early Monday mornings.” The uneasy candidate responded, “Well, if I lose, it will be your fault.”

The engaged couple was discussing whether to set up home closer to his job or hers. He preferred closer to his job which was also near friends. Her curt response: “Well fine, as long as you don’t get upset when I lose my job for tardiness.”

The sales professional disagreed with the corporate decision to bundle services in a new way. His manager insisted that this was the way it had to be. The salesman responded, “Well, it’ll be your responsibility if I fail to reach target.”

In each of these three examples, both parties mishandled the discussion. Both people forgot they were a team with one common goal. Instead of finding a mutually agreed-upon solution when confronting a new situation, the encounters ended with a silly ultimatum and unhappy individuals.

These real-life examples could have been more successfully handled by following these five steps:

A: Form a bond of trust. (We are a team and we will find a solution that works for both of us)

B: Agree on objective (We need to win this election/We want the best place to live/We want to keep sales growing)

C: Depersonalize the conflict by recognizing that change triggered the problem (the campaign manager’s child was ill/two people uniting their lives/corporate decision)

D: Cooperate in discovering or creating at least three possible solutions.

E: Find agreement in a solution that both parties can own.

There are small changes in life and then there are drastic ones.

See this passage:

He (Abraham) proceeded on his journeys from the south to Bethel to the place where his tent had been at first…to the site of the altar which he had erected there at first…

(Genesis 13:3-4)

Many translations suggest that the phrase “at first” is repeated in that passage. In reality, the original Hebrew text uses two quite separate words. The first ‘at first’ is the Hebrew word TeCHiLaH while the second is the word RiSHoNaH.

This verse can help distinguish between the two Hebrew words.

And I will restore your judges like RiSHoNaH and your advisors like TeCHiLaH.

(Isaiah 1:26)

Israel’s first judge was Moses:

… Moses sat to judge the people…
(Exodus 18:13)

Moses was a radical new paradigm. There never was a judge in Israel before him. However, no one is highlighted as the pioneering advisor.

Why are these two different words used in our verse about Abraham? There was nothing groundbreaking about his first visit to Bethel so the text uses the weaker word TeCHiLaH. However, “…to the site of the altar which he had erected there at first,” alludes to the very first altar constructed by Abraham (Genesis 12:7-9) Never before had Abraham built an altar to God. It was a new paradigm, different from the altars which others built previously, thus the text uses the word RiSHoNaH.

So we see that ancient Jewish wisdom distinguishes between minor incidents and major developments.

What is the life lesson for us? We must differentiate between small changes and paradigm shifts. A campaign manager needing to spend nearly 30% of the week away from the battleground presents a major adjustment. Getting married is an enormous life change. A significant change in corporate policy is always momentous. Recognize that the change is precipitating the problem, not your partner. Don’t act as if the change is no big deal or pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, solve it as a team, not as adversaries. For the relationship to thrive, recognize that you both win or lose together.

Practical lessons like these emerge from subtle language differences and other startling secrets which ancient Jewish wisdom reveals. Each of my five Biblical Blueprint audio CDs delves into Scripture and extracts concrete messages from God which will improve our lives. You or someone you love will be blessed by this set. It is always a good deal and for forty-eight hours it’s an even better one.

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