Three Forces of Change: Pain, Push or Pull

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

(Concept adapted from article by Arlene F. Harder of

What are three forces that bring change to our lives?

1) Painful situations 
Acting because of pain sometimes leads to poor decisions. The urgent need to "escape" pain sometimes brings compromise rather than finding the best process to overcome or handle the pain. Constantly reminding yourself that a given situation is painful keeps that situation at the forefront of your mind, which does not lead to a solution.  To often, people lose hope and simply adapt to their pain.
2) “Pushed” by people or adverse circumstances
"Push" is the effort to force someone into a corner in order to get them to change. Also, adverse circumstances can force a person to consider change. While this is a reasonable consideration, without the wisdom of God, this kind of push can lead to unfruitful change. Pushing is the least effective method for creating permanent change, but one that is used by people to force change in others.
Example: King Rehoboam pushed or forced his workers to the breaking point. He rejected the advice of the elders to "pull" and rather took the advice of his "home boys" to attempt to motivate by harsh treatment. This “push” later contributed to the division of Israel into two kingdoms.
1 Kings 12:6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked.  7 They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." 8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, 'Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?" 10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, "Tell these people who have said to you, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter'-tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.' 
3) “Pulled” by Love, Care and Concern
People positively change when they are pulled by "cords" of love and concern. Change by “pull” is God’s preferred method.
Hosea 11:1 (NLT) “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. 2 But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. 3 I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. 4 I led Israel along with my [cords] of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.
There are also natural factors that “pull” us to change. We experience life-cycle stages such as marriage, birth of children, grown children moving out of the "nest" and more. These naturally occurring events pull us toward change,

Divinely arranged circumstances are one of God's ways of pulling us towards new and higher purposes. Peter began his day as a frustrated fisherman. His day ended as a "fisher of men" in the ministry with Jesus.

Luke 5:1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”  9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
On that day, Jesus arranged circumstances in way that captured Peter's attention and heart. Jesus could have commanded that Peter follow Him, but this would have probably been less effective with a person like Peter. The pull method allowed Peter to taste of God's power, experience his own sense of need for God, and make up his own mind. The pull of God's love led to the decision to follow Jesus. 
In what ways is God pulling you with His cords of love?