This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “adapt.”
The ability to adapt is part of life.
Circumstances and culture are ever-changing. Tried and tested methods that worked in the past may not be the most effective today. Scientific advance and new research provide fresh insights that have to be taken on board.
If we try to continue exactly as we always have without openness to learn and adapt, we are not going to get very far.
Working a lot with people, I definitely see the need to adapt what I’m doing. A lot depends on the person’s age and their circumstances; it depends on the purpose of the interaction and the previous contact I’ve had with the person. In the course of the conversation, adaptation is also often necessary as new information is revealed about their opinion or perspective.
Jesus is the ultimate example of adapting to any situation. He knew exactly what was going to be most effective in each encounter whether it was a word of encouragement, a rebuke, or a thought-provoking question. He responded to tax collectors with love and grace, yet spoke angrily to proud Pharisees; he took time out of his schedule to spend time with the people who needed him like Zacchaeus and the Samaritan woman he met by the well; he even allowed himself to be waylaid as he went to heal Jairus’ daughter to help a woman in need of healing.
He also knew when not to adapt. He could have adapted his message to make it more palatable to the religious leaders. He could have adapted his behaviour in a way that made him more popular with the authorities, that would have prevented his death on the cross, but he held to truth even when it was unpopular, even when the consequences were bad.
Jesus always knew exactly the right response because he was so in tune with God: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19 NLT) Doing God’s will was his focus, not adapting to please the people around him.
I pray that I may grow to be more like him in this- to know how to adapt to suit the situation, but also to have the discernment to know when not to adapt- to hold to the truth even when it is difficult and unpopular.
I pray that any adapting I do would not be simply to please people, but that it would be out of obedience to God.