13 Jun The Shift in Thinking
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring – proverbs 27:1
“Skype? That’s impossible! I need to be with my clients in person; only then can I do therapy or bring change,” said Sakshi, a speech therapist, to her husband, who asked her to try Skype once for a client who lived far from the city. That was in 2010. Fast forward to 2021, she has done over 200 therapy sessions online in the last 18 months besides in-person therapies. Like therapists, many professionals who had never worked online started offering services online. Our family’s general physician started taking online video consultations, something that was unthinkable once.
What changed? The Shift in thinking! There was a paradigm shift. Something that seemed impossible, the pandemic made us rethink, and our mind convinced us it’s possible. There was a huge need for therapies, but physical meetings weren’t possible; online was the only option, and it worked. The normal routine that was once unshakable, unchangeable, uncompromisable has changed forever.
A few years ago, I remember telling the leaders in my church to utilize Skype or Google for prayer meetings and Bible Studies for those who could not make it physically. That never happened. The justification was that people would stop attending physically and become cozy at home. Post pandemic, there would perhaps be no church on the planet that hasn’t done at least one online session – barring churches in rural places without the infrastructure. My own church has met only a few times physically, a number that you can count on your fingers using one hand.
Who thought that schools or colleges would entirely happen online. Not that online education didn’t exist. It has grown over the years. However, there was a clear distinction between the premium in-person and the low-cost online. That demarcation had now vanished. Every schoolchild, including the youngest, is currently attending online.
In short, what everyone started thinking is, ‘if there’s a need and is possible online, do it.’ No one ever said this but has become the little small voice. This is a clear ‘shift in thinking.’
Some sectors in the economy like IT, e-commerce, online education, coaching that were already online or employees were already working from home have accelerated in growth. A classic example is that of the online zoom platform. I have used zoom infrequently many years before 2020. None of my family members knew zoom, and neither did I bother to tell them. During the pandemic, if there’s one technology company that has taken advantage and built its brand, that’s zoom. Every tongue and tribe now use zoom. We attend at least one zoom meeting in a week, sometimes more. Most of us have had an overdose, yet we cannot get rid of it, probably forever.
Paytm, Gpay, Phonepe, and many other mobile payment methods that were at a nascent stage have now picked momentum. Earlier only a few accepted this mode of payment, but now a few do not accept. A significant shift in the thinking of people of India, even those who are not smartphone or tech-savvy
Well, the disruption didn’t happen without upsetting things around the world that have an effect on the economy and lives of people. All labor-intensive sectors suffered, and so obviously, those employees suffered, too. Pay cuts, forced leaves, or job losses, though they sound cruel, became a norm. The aviation industry that was once flying is now crawling. The sectors closely connected to aviation, i.e., tourism, hotel, entertainment, have taken a nosedive. These are times where artificial intelligence and machine learning rules, and driverless cars are no more fantasies. Where you only choose the play and fast forward button. Who thought there would come a day when the world would take a pause. There will be no airplane in the sky, no car on the street, and every family member together in the home 24/7 for weeks and months together. This generation now believes it’s possible.
However, the most painful reality of our times has been the large-scale loss of lives. Young men and women have left behind shattered young families. Some homes have children who are yet to see high school. Imagining the pain of these families cuts the heart. Lives were lost in the millions across the globe. One significant Shift in thinking that has happened is, death is not something that happens after you become old. Young men and women, even children, would have thought, at least once, that they could die young. This generation has never stared at death so closely.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
What happened in the Christian world? Something similar. Church services, Bible studies, prayer meetings, Christmas programs, Evangelism workshops, and many other online programs. What does that really mean to us? We are now open to having any program online, and physical meetings are not the only possibility. There are numerous benefits of online programs. Speakers can be from any part of the globe. Travel and accomodation are not hassles anymore and a lot of money could be saved for camps and conferences. No doubt, it has its share of drawbacks. We all know the benefits of in-person meetings, which you cannot substitute. The way forward seems like a hybrid model. In-person meetings that will also accommodate online participants. This is a model that was unthinkable once—a clear shift in thinking.
However, all these programs are discipleship in nature, but what about the very heart of Christian ministry? Sharing the good news! For example, campus ministry is the heart of UESI. Students share God’s love to their friends in a world of uncertainties, pain and sorrow. They are living testimonies there. Only the physical presence of our students can draw others to Christ’s love. The tea breaks, discussion in groups, asking questions, and sharing opinions over hot topics are what build the case for sharing the gospel. All that has come to a standstill. The great commission is, as though, under threat. Why would God even allow such a huge roadblock to happen in our lifetime? Isn’t it challenging his plan and purpose for humanity?
These are questions from our finite mind. God is Sovereign, and he has allowed this catastrophe to happen, and he is not surprised, isn’t He? That only means there is another way. We need to wait on the Lord and seek answers. Things will become normal someday, and we will meet physically, but I am sure there is a shift in thinking that is inevitable. Those who are stuck to their old ways and want things to happen exactly like before are wasting precious time. Souls will continue to perish in the intermittent period, and God loves those souls too. Times are rapidly changing, and sharing the gospel in traditional ways can no more be taken for granted. The Pandemic is just one of the many such hurdles.
A shift in thinking is required urgently? While we continue to do the old way, which is getting harder by the day, we must discover the new path. The world is already doing it to benefit their earthly kingdom, and they are successful. How about his people? Shouldn’t we find ways to benefit God’s kingdom? As we pray and take initiatives, may God open our eyes. Many churches quickly shifted to online because they believed conducting a church service and fellowship was essential. Sharing the good news is essential, too! The great commission is the church’s mandate. We need to shift quickly, and to some extent, we have seen success. There’s no time to debate; we should use the same methods, tools, and technologies that the world is already using to reach the same world.
Let me close with the quote from Charles Stanley that I thought was relevant for our times. “God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple – one person telling another about the Saviour. Yet we’re busy and full of excuses. Just remember, someone’s eternal destiny is at stake.”
Franky has spent nearly 3 decades in the financial services sector. He is a certified executive coach, trains and coaches on personal finances, teaches on family relationships and a certified pre-marital counsellor. He is currently serving as Treasurer for UESI. He is married to Shabeena and they are the parents of two teenage daughters.