What Amazon Can Teach Us About Change
One evening I could not sleep so I tried to cope with my insomnia by using “the nuclear option.” That is right. I turned on PBS. This particular evening, Charlie Rose was interviewing Jeff Bezos, founder, president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Amazon.com. Bezos was discussing Amazon’s new device called the Kindle, the electronic reader that is transforming the way people read books.
Charlie Rose asked Bezos what he does to predict the future of technology and as well as Amazon’s strategy of response toward it. Bezos’s indicated that he does not ask himself, “What will be different in 10 years?” and then try to respond to that. Rather, Bezos asks himself, “What will be the same in 10 years?” According to Bezos, people have been reading books in some form for thousands of years, and in 10 years from now, people will probably still be reading books.
This is a tremendous insight into how the church can view change as we face the future. We know that some change is necessary. As Charles F. Kettering said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” Although change has been described as the only constant, we can rest assured that we can be secure in the midst of change. So how do we approach change?
First of all, we know that God does not change. In fact, Malachi 3:6 quotes God as saying, “I the LORD do not change.” Theologians call this doctrine the immutability of God. That simply means that God does not change. God is not “getting better” for there is nothing in Him that has ever been insufficient. There is also nothing about God that is inclined by evil, sin, or apathy. We serve a God that is sovereign; that is orchestrating all circumstance for His glory and for our good. An unchanging God orchestrates our changing surroundings.
Secondly, we can focus on things that will not change. Acts 2:42 says that the apostles “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Throughout the life of the church, God has blessed ministries that focus on the four elements as we see in this verse:
- loving one another,
- observance of the sacraments, and
Therefore, it seems wise for each ministry, in every generation, to devote themselves to these things. If a ministry is devoted to these traits, all other changes we may experience are relatively insignificant. A church must not only know that it is willing to change, a church must first admit what it is unwilling to change.
Nothing is more frustrating than change simply for the sake of change. In order to stay current, we must think eternal. This reminds me of something I once heard from John MacArthur. MacArthur said the quickest way to become obsolete is to define yourself by your culture or your style.
While we can embrace some change, we must hold tighter that which will never change. As seen in Acts and at Amazon, we can face change by giving our attention to the things that don’t change.
Though we are not always sure of what the future will hold, we can be sure of who holds the future.