Thursday, August 30, 2012

Traveling the freeway of change

Change is a strange thing.  It’s often the best thing that can happen, yet it is the hardest thing to approach.  Although it’s good to change, fear keeps us from moving toward the end to begin the journey toward something new.
On Sunday, I bring to an end 23 years of ministry in Durham.  Since making the announcement that I have chosen to disband Compassion Ministries, I’ve had numerous conversations with others in the middle of change.  There must be something in the air.  Each person spoke of the thrill of change while not being sure what will come next.
Change is a strange thing.
I spoke briefly with Steve Schewel about the change in his life.  Schewel, who serves as a member of Durham’s City Council, recently sold the Independent Weekly to Williamette Week, an alternative weekly paper in Portland, Ore.  Schewel ran the Independent Weekly for over 30 years.
Things have changed since the Independent Weekly first came off the presses.  The newspaper industry isn’t what it used to be.  It will never be the same.  I left my conversation with Schewel believing change was good for him.  He talked about being at peace.
Earlier that day, I ran into Sioux Watson, the publisher of the Independent Weekly.  She told me she won’t be around to run the Independent Weekly now that the paper has been sold.  She told me the change is a good thing.  Something new will come out of it all.
The changes at the Independent Weekly left me pondering all that it has meant for me to serve Durham over the years.  When I started working as a local column writer all the papers were locally owned.  The News & Observer was the first to be sold.  I’ll never forget the day the Herald-Sun was sold to the Paxton Media Group.  Many of my close friends were forced to leave without a chance to say goodbye.  I’ll never forget hugging Flo Johnston as she entered the elevator with her things in a box.
Change wasn’t good on that day.
The exit of many of my friends from the Herald-Sun led to the creation of the Durham News.  I stayed on board with the Herald-Sun until Bob Ashby, the managing editor, asked me to take a big pay cut.  I nicely told him no thanks and took my pen and paper to the Independent Weekly and the Durham News
The change wasn’t a bad thing.  It came with good and bad.  Change rarely finds you in a place that is the same. You have to learn to appreciate the good that comes with moving in a new direction.
So, what I’m trying to express is the feelings that come with my change.  Since 1997, my life has been a blending of column writer and pastor.  Throw in the pile a bunch of advocacy and activism and I’ve made a life that defines me in a way that leaves me feeling complete.  There’s nothing like walking in footprints that defines the things important to you.  I’ve been able to use the pen and the pulpit to dig deep while exposing the hypocrisy and contradictions that drive me crazy.
Back home, before coming to North Carolina, I used to talk about sharing the Good News and the bad news in the same week.  Back then I was working as a television reporter.  Things have changed since then, but many things are the same. 
That’s the good thing about change. Circumstance may alter, but we stay the same.  We may do work that is different – be it television, radio or newspaper, ministry or the world of nonprofit management – but we stay the same.  Our focus may differ. We may learn a few lessons that make us better at what we do.  We add a few new friends along the way to bring a different perspective, but the gut stays the same.
Knowing that grounds me in my decision to move toward change. Change does not mean a change in me. Change is about the beginning of movement toward something better in me.
Change is about celebrating magic.  Some call it faith – walking toward the unknown, knowing something better is there waiting for you to show up to marinate in the magic.
I can’t wait to see what will come next.  Like the leaves that come with autumn, I’m waiting for the wind to blow.  Imagine floating in the wind. Imagine going places you have never been before.
Yes, it gets scary sometimes, but I’m reminded of where I’ve been.  I’m taking the best of me with me as I travel toward discovering the gift of the new me.  I’m still the same, just a bit better because of the journey.
Thank God for change!


  1. thanks again bro pastor, author, activist. It's interesting at this present time working on Sunday's sermon, will quote you in some way about Maximizing Our Change...2 Corinthians 5:17.
    I leave you with this about change...okay Faith!
    "Taking The Necessary Steps And Leaving The Consequences To God...(Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays)"

  2. Carl,
    I know you will make your change a good one for yourself and the community. No doubt.
    Warm wishes,
    Steve Schewel

  3. I read your blog and I must say it truly inspires the reader. “Breakaway” a secular song by Kelly Clarkson speaks about change. It is so easy to stay in our comfort zone. You have truly been a friend of the community. Whatever your direction, I am certain you will shine!

  4. I read your blog and I must say it truly inspires the reader. “Breakaway” a secular song by Kelly Clarkson speaks about change. It is so easy to stay in our comfort zone. You have truly been a friend of the community. Whatever your direction, I am certain you will shine!