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If You’re Really Ready to Make the Future Better Than the Past, Start Here

Consider for a moment: What is the trajectory of your life? What is the trajectory of your ministry?

Are you headed in the best direction? Are you and your ministry in a better place now than you were a year ago at this time? If not, what are you going to do differently this fall to make sure you make progress?

When we moved from Los Angeles to Austin at the end of 2010, we were making a new start. We loved our years on the West Coast, and we loved our community. We were leaving with a mixture of sadness and excitement. After leaving Mosaic in Los Angeles and coming to Gateway Church in Austin, we soon learned that cities and churches are like children—you can actually love more than one at a time. 

In light of this new start, I decided to make it a new start in every way. When asked if I wanted a PC or a Mac, I chose Mac because I had been using a PC for the past several years. When I was asked about a blackberry or an iPhone, I switched to an iPhone and got rid of my blackberry. Anytime I was given a choice, I chose something new—including cable TV.

Of all the choices, this one seemed to be the most controversial in our home. Debbie and the kids liked Dish. They didn’t like AT&T U-verse. They weren’t familiar with the channels or the remote control. I thought that all of those concerns would disappear once they got used to it.

Unfortunately, a few months into our new AT&T experience, my family rallied against me. Even though they had gotten used to the remote control and the new numbers for their favorite channels, the digital picture kept messing up. Have you ever watched a show that freezes or digitizes? It is incredibly annoying, especially if you miss a scene or cannot get it to keep moving forward again. I felt like I had a simple solution. I decided to call for technical support. The easy solution: Unplug the cable box each night so it can reset. 

I tried it, and it worked … for awhile. 

The digitized image and the frozen picture came back, so I called technical support once again. This time, they sent me a new box in the mail. We mailed back the messed up cable box and installed the new one. 

The process happened several more times. It seemed to work for a few months, then it would get screwy again, so I would call technical support and get a new box.

On the fourth box, even I had turned against this new cable provider. I called ready to cancel, and then they transferred me to the cancellation department, which I think is actually their sales department, the place where they keep their most influential people. 

The next thing you know, I have agreed to keep them as our service for even longer!

Now, I wasn’t a complete pushover. They cut our cable bill in half, promised to send me another new box (the fifth new one), and put down in the notes that if I called again they would send over a technician to check out the situation at no cost to us.

My family was really upset, but my desire to save money sometimes outweighs my concerns for my family’s happiness.

Well, can you guess what happened? It worked great for a few weeks and then the pictures froze and digitzed again!

I called, knowing they had promised to send someone out. A few days later, he arrived. He tested all of the equipment, and then he did something no one else had ever done in the two years we have had AT&T U-verse. He checked out the wiring that comes into the house. He discovered the cable was old and needed to be replaced. All of the seasoned reps never checked the cable. It took a 20-year-old rookie to think to check the cable. We could have had five new boxes or 5000 new boxes. Either way, we would have never solved the actual problem. 

When we just make superficial changes, we won’t see anything new.

The beginning of a new season may show a glimpse of something better, but like the cable boxes I kept getting sent to my house, soon it will slip back.

What we need is a complete overhaul in our lives and in our ministries. We need a new mind, and we need a new heart. We need complete new wiring rather than superficial changes that don’t last!

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ebryant@churchleaders.com'
Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Eric previously served at Mosaic in Los Angeles and his books include Not Like Me: A Field Guide to a Influencing a Diverse World and A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be. Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership.