Years ago, I read a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?,” about two mice and two little-people who had some decisions to make about survival when their readily available cheese was suddenly gone. It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to what humans do when changes are afoot. Some hunker down and insist things must remain the same. Others dither about without being able to formulate a new plan. And some go in search of new cheese.
In the story, Hem and Haw are faced with this dilemma. They like the way things have been – they just want their cheese back! That’s not too much to ask! Day after day, they return to the same site, hoping the cheese had returned. No such luck. The cheese was most definitely gone.
Haw gathers his courage and goes in search of new cheese. Along the way, he learns things about himself and makes some courageous decisions about his actions for the future. One day, he finds cheese crumbs, and hoping to bring Hem into the new adventure with him, he returns to the original site. Hem is in bad shape. Unable to accept change, and with no sustenance in sight, he is dying. Haw offers the new cheese he has brought, but Hem refuses, certain he won’t like the new cheese. Unable to convince Hem to move on, Haw leaves again, continuing his search for new cheese.
I don’t think I’ll be ruining a good story by telling you that Haw does indeed find new cheese, and is happy with it. Sure, it would have been easier had the old cheese kept providing, but that’s no longer the reality. Haw knew he must adapt or become extinct. We leave him smiling and happy with his new reality.
What does this story have to do with Ministry Overheard? In churches across the country, pastors are moving or being moved. They are being called or appointed to another congregation. Lots of cheese being moved around. Lots of Hems and Haws struggling to find peace with a new reality. Lots of successes and lots of failures.
Sometimes we forget that God is in the calling and appointing process! If you believed God moved your cheese, would you view the change differently?
And what about the cheese itself? In the book, the cheese has no live characteristics, but let’s pretend the cheese is your pastor. God moves the pastor to another congregation. Will you be like Hem and decide to die because you won’t eat new cheese, or welcome a new pastor? Or will you be like Haw and move beyond your fear to feel free to like new cheese?
Remember, it can be difficult for cheese to adapt to new environments, too. God bless the cheese that moves, and God bless the Haws that embrace new cheese, for the building of the Kingdom.