The best way to grow and change … is to grow and change

14 September 2021

In the first of a two-part series, Dr Nigel Pimlott reflects on his learning and development from the Connexional Transformational Leadership Learning Community. In this first piece, he draws on the backdrop of his recent experiences as a foster carer. 

During the last year, my wife and I have started being foster carers. This has required us to make some very big adjustments in order to bring about the transformation we hope for in the lives of the children we look after.

We’ve changed when we eat meals. We’ve transformed how our house is organised. We’ve re-designed the décor. There are now car seats in the car, a play pen in the living room and numerous varieties of baby food across the kitchen. Ornaments have been put away, clutter tidied, and finances have been significantly re-ordered. All to help the children in our care stand the best chance of thriving and flourishing. Those of you who have raised children will no doubt have experienced similar changes, but this is new for us.

Primarily, we’ve had to change ourselves; continually re-configure the way we do things. We’ve revised priorities whilst learning new things so we grow and transform who we are. These changes have developed us, but they’ve been largely for the benefit of the children. Our change, has enabled them to change, so their world can change for the better.

In my work with the Transformational Leadership Learning Community (TLLC) I’ve also seen this pattern at work in the church. People have made changes to revitalise the church, thereby helping the wider community transform. Be it feeding the hungry, offering digital solutions, looking after others, starting new Christian communities or campaigning for justice, God’s people are about significant transformation.

People often respond tender-heartedly to the news that we are foster carers. They generously think we are doing a noble and compassionate thing. It’s not for us to comment on this, but before we get too carried away with any sentimental notions about what it is all about, I need to say that it has been challenging. Making changes to how we live, what we do and how we do it, and re-prioritising seemingly everything has been demanding. But here’s the thing – we couldn’t do what we set out to do without doing the changes. We won’t be the best difference we can be unless we best transform how we are.

I think the same is true about church – if we want to be the best we can be, we can’t keep doing it in the way we have been in the new context we now find ourselves in. We have to adjust to changing circumstances so that others can best flourish. It’s really not about us, but about how we love and serve others with the Good News of Jesus.

By its very nature, fostering means children come and go. Each new arrival means we have to grow and change for the benefit of the children. Maybe we can be church in the same way: grow and change ourselves, thus helping the church grow and change, so others grow and change.

Nigel Pimlott

Dr Nigel Pimlott works for the Connexional team as regional learning and development officer and facilitator of the God for All Transformational Leadership Learning Community. Details of this can be found here.