The Challenge of Change (#4 in Series on Change)

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

When I was appointed as Pastor at Frazer in 1972, my daughter Vicki was going into the first grade and my son Si was 3 years old.  We lived in Carol Villa.  The favorite eating place for our family was Howard Johnson’s, located on the Eastern Bypass next to Interstate 85.

At that time Howard Johnson’s did more business than McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken all put together.  As you might guess, times started to change.  Howard Johnson’s was unwilling to change with the times.  The fast food industry began to get traction.  Howard Johnson’s wanted to keep things the way they had always been.  When is the last time you ate at a Howard Johnson’s?  When is the last time you saw a Howard Johnson’s?

Change is a part of life.  The ability to navigate change is much more necessary today than it was when I moved to Montgomery.  Businesses, churches, and organizations that did not navigate change did not stay around very long.

I read about a time in our history when there were proposals for new railroads to be constructed.  A lot of people were opposed to this change.  The Governor of New York, Martin Van Buren, insisted that these new railroads were evil and would interrupt business and weaken our nation’s defense.  Allegedly he wrote the following letter to President Jackson on January 31, 1829:

“The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads.’  The federal government must preserve the canals for the following reasons:

  1. If canal boats are supplanted by ‘railroads’ serious unemployment will result.  Captains, cooks, drivers, hostelers, repairmen, and lock tenders will be left without means of livelihood, not to mention the numerous farmers now employed in growing hay for horses.
  2. Boat builders would suffer, and tow line, whip and harness makers would be left destitute.
  3. Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defense of the United States.  In the event of unexpected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could move the supplies so vital to modern war.

As you may well know, Mr. President, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of fifteen miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening our women and children.  The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speeds.”

Martin Van Buren

I am glad that today we don’t have to do all of our traveling by canals, railroads, or highways.  We now have airlines, and I don’t how we will be traveling a few years from now!

Everyone seems to be for progress – unless it involves change.  It is hard to have progress without change.  There are some people who think nothing should ever be done for the first time. (Tweet this.)

Stay committed to the things that are changeless – and be open to the things that are changing!


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