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  • Writer's pictureDr. Garrett Prevo

Replacing Complacency with Transformation: Why is it so Important for Christian Educators?

As I write this, I am completing summer school as a high school principal, and I am wrapping up my 20th year in public education. To be honest, I am ready for a little time off during the summer. I need to sleep, rest, and rejuvenate. I feel a little lethargic, and that fatigue is translating into complacency. I think that is a natural cycle for us in education—feeling a bit of a crash over the summer followed by a renewed passion and gearing up for another year ahead. I have been in this business long enough to recognize that pattern in myself, and I’m guessing you have, too.


I hope my feelings of complacency are short-lived and that with some rest, my passion will return because I know we were not created for complacency! In his book, The Way of the Warrior, Erwin McManus put it this way. “We were not destined for lethargy, we were not made for apathy, and we were certainly not created for mediocrity.”(1) Perhaps you are like me, and just the mention of the word mediocrity leaves a vile taste in your mouth.


Let me illustrate what I mean. I am a diehard Diet Pepsi drinker. I actually drink way too much of it. It is definitely a habit I need to break…or at least cut back on. Perhaps your drink of choice is different but go with me here for a minute. Imagine it’s a Saturday afternoon in July in the Midwest. It’s hot, humid, and miserable. You’ve just finished some yard work and are ready for a cold drink. You reach for an ice-cold Diet Pepsi to quench your thirst and take a huge swig. The instant it hits your mouth you realize it's a hot, watered-down Diet Pepsi. Immediately you spit it out of your mouth. It’s a vile taste that simply cannot be tolerated.


This image reminds me of the words of Revelation 3:15-16 when God made a startling declaration. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” During the first century room temperature water was not to be trusted. Cold water came from springs well below the surface of the earth and, as is the case now, was considered much safer to consume. Hot water had been heated thoroughly and was also deemed safe. However, room-temperature water caused bad things to happen. Of course this writing was way before germ theory, but anecdotal evidence no doubt prevailed. Cold water = good. Hot water = good. Lukewarm water = bad things, man.


Obviously, this passage in Revelation is making use of a metaphor. God is referring to people who simply go through the motions of life and do not commit one way or another. Based on the picture painted in Revelation, I envision God having the same reaction as we imagined having with Diet Pepsi. The lukewarm—the mediocre—disgusts God, and He spits it out. I am convinced that complacency is not appealing to God. Lukewarm acceptance of the status quo = bad things, man.


I wonder, on the other hand, if Satan loves a warm Diet Pepsi. I have a feeling he embraces complacency. There is no doubt that Satan’s goal is to bring us down. 1 Peter 5:8 declares that Satan acts as a roaring lion, seeking those he may destroy. This roaring lion has a number of strategies he uses to bring about that destruction. One of Satan’s most devious strategies is living a life of complacency. Perhaps you grew up in a family or church culture that helped you avoid the huge pitfalls like drugs, sex, and money, but you have fallen for the lie of this is just the way I am. You have accepted the falsehood that God made me like this, and there is nothing I can do about it. You have resigned yourself to just getting through the day, making ends meet, and doing what makes you happy.


This is not the life to which God has called you.


God has called us to be ever-learning. He has called us to be in a constant state of growth. Romans 12:2 lays out a strategy for this refinement. Paul said that we are to be “transformed through the renewing of our minds.” Satan and our natural desires draw us to the status quo. Christ calls us to be transformed, to be changed. Specifically, Paul tells us to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. We must seek new learning—new ways of thinking and acting—for our minds to be renewed and our lives transformed. We will never be transformed with a complacent attitude.


In the last section of this verse, Paul states the reason we are to be transformed through the renewing of our minds is so we can know the will of God in our lives. I am convinced that we will be most effective and most satisfied in our callings when we are living in agreement with the will of God. However, Paul reminds us we must put in some work in order to live in the will of God.


This principle of being transformed through the renewing of our minds—the challenge to continually learn, grow, and change—has obvious implications for our professional careers. We must overcome our natural tendency toward complacency in our lives as educators if we hope to be both successful and content. I absolutely believe that the I’m doing alright and am good enough mindset is from the great deceiver. When we embrace this lie, we no longer strive to grow. We no longer put ourselves in positions to be changed by challenging content or stretched through impactful relationships with others. We coast instead of push. Complacency needs to be destroyed!


Louie Giglio stated, “Complacency is an attitude of the heart.” (2) Complacency lacks passion. It lacks purpose. It comes from a place of arrogance. Ultimately, the desire to grow in any area of our lives is founded on humility. Humility is defined as a modest opinion of one’s importance or rank. Just as complacency is an issue of the heart, so is humility. A humble person realizes there is always room to grow, and that he or she has strengths that need to be better leveraged and weaknesses that need to be improved upon.


This humble view of oneself does not negate confidence. One can be confident and humble at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. If you reflect upon a great leader with whom you have had the opportunity to work, my guess is that person carried himself or herself with great confidence. Not arrogance. Confidence. They had a deep-seated belief that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. They were leading out of their values. They were making a difference. These leaders are confident in themselves and their abilities but are also willing to rely upon those around them and leverage their strengths for the good of the team. The key is to understand that even in our strengths, we have the opportunity to grow. We have the need to learn.


Let’s dig into Romans 12:2 a little more. “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed through the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The renewing of your mind requires you to think differently. It requires you to see things from a different perspective. It requires you to reflect on different ideas. Ultimately this verse is urging believers to consider the things that are important to the heart of God. This is foreign thinking to the ways of the world. It’s not natural to consider things from a Godly perspective. It's a different way of thinking. The Bible does not call us to go with the flow. It doesn’t call us to be conformed to the way everyone else around us does things. It calls us to be transformed, to be made different through the changing of our minds.


We change our minds by choosing to invest in our own growth. Through the continual renewing of our minds—through destroying complacency and living a life driven to learn—we are transformed, and when we are changed our influence in our school community is strengthened. Our witness grows. People will come to see us as people who live their lives with humility. As a result, we become equipped to help others approach their professional lives with the passion and energy that lives in us. We may even be able to impact them for all eternity.


Perhaps you are like me and just need a little rest right now. That’s normal. Take care of yourself, and get your body and mind in a better spot. As you feel refreshed, commit to destroying complacency in your life. Focus on renewing your mind and approaching life as a learner. This is the life to which God has called you as an educator!


References


1 McManus, Edward (2019). The way of the warrior: An ancient path to inner peace. Penguin Random House: New York.

2 Giglio, Louie (2017). Goliath must fall: Winning the battle against your giants. Nelson: Nashville.

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