Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

A very practical book!  Change can be overwhelming and difficult.  How to move forward?

The authors begin by reminding us that our brains are made up of essentially two different parts - they quip, you are "not of one mind."  There is the Rider and the Elephant.  The Rider represents our rational, thinking side, and the Elephant represents our emotional side. (picture a human rider on top of a very large, strong-willed elephant!) The Rider is the brains of the operation, obviously, but the Elephant is not easily controlled or persuaded by the Rider's limited powers.  Both must be on board for change to occur.  Self-control is an exhaustible resource - so the emotional motivation for the behavioral change must join the rational motivation quickly!

If you want change to happen you must...
Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.

Direct the Rider - explain the why and importance and rationale behind the change.
Motivate the Elephant - if someone's heart is not in the change, it simply won't happen, no matter how clearly you explain the vision.
Shape the Path - Clear instructions and steps are needed.  Ambiguity is the enemy of change.

Perhaps the most impacting part of this book was the section that describes how to "shape the path."  I was already familiar with the need for both rational and emotional motivation to move toward change - but the idea that people (including self!) need crystal-clear direction to change was very practical for me.

For example...instead of saying: "eat healthier," say "choose 1% milk instead of whole milk."  Both instructions are based on the same idea, but one gives a concrete action that is easy to remember.  

The phrase "Script the change" kept reoccurring.  What is the change you want to see?  How can you make that change easier?  What specific steps can be laid out in a clear fashion to give direction?  "Ambiguity is exhausting to the Rider, because the Rider is tugging on the reins of the Elephant, trying to direct the Elephant down a new path.  But when the road is uncertain, the Elephant will insist on taking the default path, the most familiar path...why?  Because uncertainty makes the Elephant anxious."  - page 53

"Ambiguity is the enemy.  Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors.  In short, to make a switch, you need to script the critical moves." - p. 53  "When you want someone to behave in a new way, explain the 'new way' clearly.  Don't assume the new moves are obvious."  p. 60

"Until you can ladder your way down from a change idea to a specific behavior, you're not ready to lead a switch."  p. 63  "Clarity dissolves resistance." p. 72

There is a great deal of good advice in this book - but my main take away is to SCRIPT change...not control, but clarify and set simple steps that makes the path to a new vision something that people will not only want to do but know HOW to do it!

Brokenness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Greater power for Christian living usually starts with deeper surrender.  This classic truth exposes us - revealing the petty things we cling to that limit our effectiveness in prayer and service.  

This book does just that - reveals, exposes, and calls us out to greater power for Christian living through brokenness.  

Isaiah 57:15 tells us that God has 'two addresses' - He dwells in a high and lofty place, but also with those who are contrite and lowly of heart. The Beatitudes reinforce this - "Blessed are the poor in spirit."  God is actually attracted to those who are spiritually destitute and are willing to acknowledge it.  

Nancy Demoss does a fantastic job at writing in a simple and straight-forward fashion about the power of brokenness before God, and before others.  Pride is insidious, hard to kill, and leaks out in unexpected places in our lives.  The higher we rise in positions of leadership, the more vulnerable we are to its hidden grip.  As Jesus illustrates this in the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee - God is drawn to humility and acknowledgement of need, and repulsed by pride.

In many religious systems, the severity or gravity of one's sin is counted most important.  But in the Christian faith, it is not the smallness or bigness of the sin that God sees per se - but the extent of repentance within the heart.  King Saul had an ego problem and did not repent. In contrast, King David was guilty of murder and adultery, but in the depth of his repentance, God called him a man after his own heart.  It is sometimes easy for mature believers to sweep "small sins" under the rug, but God is looking for courageous acknowledgement of the patterns that keep us distanced from Himself and others.

I highly recommend this book - I wish that I could capture all of it here - but I have no time.  Of the many valuable nuggets in this book, the most valuable was her list of comparisons - how to know if you are broken or unbroken.  I am listing it here fully - I dare you to take the time to read it, pray it through, and take whatever action the Spirit directs you to.  And pray for me...that I might continue to do the same.  Brokenness is not a one-time occurrence, it is a lifestyle of daily dying.


  1. Proud people focus on the failures of others and can readily point out those faults.  Broken people are more conscious of their own spiritual need than of anyone else's. 
  2. Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit.  They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope but view their own with a telescope.  Broken people are compassionate - they have the kind of love that overlooks a multitude of sins; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.
  3. Proud people are especially prone to criticize those in positions of authority - their pastor, their boss, their husband, their parents - and they talk to others about the faults they see.  Broken people reverence, encourage, and lift up those that God has placed in positions of authority, and they talk to God in intercession, rather than gossiping about the faults they see in others.
  4. Proud people are self-righteous; they think highly of themselves and look down on others.  Broken people think the best of others; they esteem others as better than themselves.
  5. Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.  Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for God and for others.
  1. Proud people have to prove they are right - they have to get the last word.  Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
  2. Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit.  Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.
  3. Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.  Broken people are self-denying and self-sacrificing.
  1. Proud people desire to be served - they want life to revolve around them and their own needs.  Broken people are motivated to serve others and to be sure others' needs are met before their own.
  2. Proud people desire to be known as a success.  Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others successful.
  3. Proud people have a feeling - conscious or unconscious - that 'this ministry (or this organization) is privileged to have me and my gifts.'  They focus on what they can do for God.  Broken people have a heart attitude that says, 'I don't deserve to have any part in this ministry,' they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.
  1. Proud people crave self-advancement.  Broken people desire to promote others.
  2. Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts.  Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.
  3. Proud people get wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.  Broken people are eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up.
  4. Proud people are elated by praise and deflated by criticism.  Broken people know that any praise of their accomplishments belongs to the Lord and that criticism can help them grow into spiritual maturity.
  1. Proud people feel confident in how much they know.  Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.
  2. Proud people are self-conscious.  They worry about what others think of them.  Broken people are not preoccupied with what others think of them.
  3. Proud people are concerned about appearing respectable; they are driven to protect their image and reputation.  Broken people are concerned with being real; they care less about what others think than about what God knows - they are willing to die to their own reputation.
  4. Proud people can't bear to fail or for anyone to think they are less than perfect.  This can drive them to extremes - workaholic tendencies, perfectionism, the tendency to drive others or to place unrealistic expectations on themselves or others.  Broken people can recognize and live within God-given limitations.
  1. Proud people keep others at arm's length.  Broken people are willing to take the risks of getting close to others and loving intimately.
  2. Proud people are quick to blame others.  Broken people accept personal responsibility and can acknowledge where they were wrong in a situation.
  3. Proud people wait for others to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or a breach in a relationship.  Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled, no matter how wrong the other party may have been.
  4. Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when corrected.  Broken people receive correction with a humble, open spirit.
  5. Proud people find it difficult to discuss their spiritual needs with others.  Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.
  6. Proud people try to control the people and the circumstances around them - they are prone to manipulate.  Broken people trust in God - they rest in Him and are able to wait for Him to act on their behalf.
  7. Proud people become bitter and resentful when they are wronged; they have emotional temper tantrums; they hold others hostage and are easily offended; they carry grudges and keep a record of others' wrongs.  Broken people give thanks in all things; they are quick to forgive those who wrong them.
  1. Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.  Broken people aren't overly concerned with who knows or who finds out about their sin -  they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
  2. Proud people have a hard time saying, 'I was wrong; will you please forgive me?'  Broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.
  3. Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing their sin to God ('Dear Lord, please forgive me for all my sins...') or expressing spiritual need to others ('I need to be a better Christian...').  Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin: 'Lord, I agree with You that I love myself more than I love my mate; I confess that I am addicted to television; I'm a glutton; I have a critical spirit; I am an angry mother...'
  4. Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.  They are disturbed over the problems caused by their sin - for example, the financial bondage created by their overspending, or the problems in their marriage that have resulted from selfishness and immoral choices.  Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.  They are more concerned about how their sin was grieved and dishonored God than about the problems it has created in their lives. 
  5. Proud people are remorseful over their sin - sorry that they got caught or found out.  Broken people are truly repentant over their sin, and the evidence of their repentance is that they forsake the sin.
  1. Proud people are blind to the true condition of their hearts.  Broken people walk in the light and acknowledge the truth about their lives.
  2. Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of respect.  Broken people realize that they need to maintain a continual heart attitude of repentance.
  3. Proud people don't think they need revival, but they are sure everyone else does (in fact, right about now, they are making a mental list of the people they think need to read this book!)  Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.
Are you a broken Christian?