Change the Status Quo CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
When we read about John Mark in the scriptures, we find that he went with Paul and Barnabas as their minister on their first missionary journey. But before long he defected. When Paul and Barnabas were preparing to go on their second journey, they had a sharp contention between them about whether to take Mark. Paul absolutely refused to take him with them [Acts 15:36-39]. However, many years later, when Paul wrote Timothy his second letter, he asked Timothy to bring Mark, “for,” he said, “he is profitable to me for the ministry,” 2 Tim 4:11.
How did the relationship between Paul and Mark change so much that Paul went from sharply contending with Barnabas over him to finding him profitable for the ministry?
The Bible doesn’t delve into the particular things that Mark did to become profitable to Paul. But we can find in the scriptures four things that Mark must have done to improve his relationship with Paul. And these are four things that you can do when the status quo in your relationship with someone else is strained.
This process starts with the recognition that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. We can put it this way, “If the status quo is not satisfying then don’t be satisfied with the status quo.” You cannot believe how many people recognize a problem in their relationship with someone else but who are satisfied to just leave it alone and complain about the other person. Do something. Change the status quo. How should you do this?
Search – Ps 139:23, Lam 3:40 – Get before the Lord and find out what contribution to the problem you are making. You have to break down every single aspect of the problem you are having and see what the underlying trouble is. Look beyond the other person’s problem and look carefully at yourself. Mark could easily have fussed to Barnabas and to anyone else who would have listened and said, “That Paul is a very demanding and unreasonable preacher. Don’t you see how he runs into trouble in every city where he preaches? He is rude by his own admission!! He needs to make some changes in his life!” Instead, Mark looked at his own life. In the search, God showed him that he was a chicken! He didn’t have the courage to handle the ministry.
Acknowledge – Ps 51:3, 2 Tim 2:25 – After getting with the Lord, you must acknowledge to God, to yourself and to your “friend” that you are a part of the problem. That is hard to do. But until you do, you cannot change the status quo. If God shows you your part of the problem and you don’t acknowledge it, then you are no different than the Pharisees who would not admit that they were wrong for falsely accusing Jesus. Mark could have said, “Well, if Paul knew that I didn’t have the maturity to handle the ministry, he should have never asked me to go with him in the first place. If he hadn’t been so rough with me, I could have handled it.” Anything but accept the blame for your own failure, right?!?
Correct – 2 Tim 3:16, Jer 2:19 – The whole purpose for the search and acknowledgement was not to make you feel bad and apologetic, but to give you enough light so that you could make the necessary corrections in your own life. This is where you change the status quo. You say, “But I want the other person to change!” You cannot change anyone but yourself. Even if you change yourself, you cannot anticipate that the other person will change. You just change to make the corrections that you must make in your own life because you have acknowledged before the Lord that you have a problem that needs to be corrected. Mark obviously made some very beneficial changes in his own life that toughened up for the ministry.
Grow – Eph 4:15, 2 Pet 3:18 – It is not enough to make the corrections as they are revealed to you in your life, but you need to grow from them. In other words, you mature beyond the corrections until those changes become the new status quo. At this point, you will undoubtedly find something else to acknowledge and correct. Therefore, you never plateau and quit growing; you just keep getting better with time. Mark obviously grew up to the point that not only could Paul say he is capable but rather “he is profitable to me!”
Conclusion: When things need to change in your relationship with someone, you make the changes that you can make in yourself. And don’t only change those things that affect you relationship to another person but that also affect your relationship to the Lord. Become a better Christian.