Jonah was chosen to be one of the most radical change agents in the bible. He did not want to change nor did he want to bring God’s word of salvation to the Ninevites. He would much rather have had them destroyed. But when God chooses someone to be an agent of change, that’s it. There is no plan B. When Jonah resisted, God, as the story goes, had him swallowed up by a whale – with an amazing GPS system – and spat out on the shores of Niniveh.
Jonah, grumpy as ever, preached the shortest sermon in the bible: ” Thirty more days and the city of Niniveh will be destroyed.” To Jonah’s eternal amazement, the Ninevites had a change of heart – their king ordered them to wear sackcloth and ashes and to repent. Of course they were saved. Jonah’s heart remained unchanged, but that did not matter. An entire nation was saved – because of him; and in spite of him.
Change happens whether we want it or not – that is one of the few certainties in the world. What matters more than anything is our response to change – that we can choose. Being ready for change at any point is critical. The more we resource ourselves – both internally and externally – the better equipped we are for change, and the more likely we will be to turn it to our advantage, and to thrive. Our internal resources include our creativity; talents; skills; knowledge; passions; faith … External resources include study programmes; technology; friends; team members; mentors; coaches … The better networked we are and the more we nurture ourselves and our creativity, the easier and more exciting change is. The more we surround ourselves with a fellowship of people who can support us, the more confident we will be.
I find this unusual visual representation of Jonah in the belly of the whale most reassuring. I always imagined him terrified and gagging on stinking whale’s breath. And yet here he is, comfortable, warm and safe – despite the discomfort of having to do something he had resisted. Inevitably change is less frightening and unpleasant than we imagine – we just have to take the first step, and be open to it. We will be safer than we imagine. Our world will expand, and we will be more than equal to the challenge of change. We may even enjoy it:)
What is it in your life that is changing, or that needs to change; and how can you best prepare yourself so that change becomes the catalyst for growth, both for you and people who fall within your circle of change?Take that first step today …
Posted by Juliette Jooste Gyure, leadership, life and career coach, specializing in change and transition processes.