1956: “A young 16-year old Hugh Masekela leaping in the air, clutching the trumpet that had been sent to him by Louis Armstrong.”
Photograph by the late Drum photographer Alf Kumalo.
Grace and peace to you
The other day I read an article in the Harvard Business Review about how to get people to change. The article explains the “Banana Principle”. It goes like this: On the office counter there are two bowls of fruit for all employees to freely help themselves. A bowl of bananas and a bowl of oranges. Every day without fail the banana bowl is emptied first. And many of the staff who arrive after the bananas are finished, choose to leave without taking an orange even though there are plenty of oranges still to be had. On reflection and research they realised that the reason for this is not because bananas are deemed that much more delicious than oranges, but rather that they are easier to eat. They are easier to manage. Easier to peel. Bananas are less messy than oranges.
So according to the authors, if you want people to start doing something that they are not – give them a banana-like-option. In other words make it easy. And if you want people to stop doing what they are doing – give them an orange-like-option. Make it more difficult or costly, because people employ the principle of the least effort. This is obvious in each of our lives I am sure.
But it raises this question for me: what if the change needed is not easy and cannot be made to be easy? What if the change needed is messy – like much meaningful change is.
This raised another question: is easy really what we want? Surely we have enough insight into our lives to know that easy seldom hits the spot within us that is crying out for transformation.
More than easy I think we desire truth. The truth that we can change. The truth that it is difficult. The truth that it is costly. The truth that it may happen in hidden ways over long periods of time. The truth that we will be helped along by grace again and again.
This is why I think the Covenant Commitment still holds our attention over 250 years after it was first prayed. It holds our attention because it holds the real desires of our heart. In our depths we want truth, not easy. As it states in the introduction: “Christ has many services to be done: some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both; in some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.”
We are no longer our own but yours O God.
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering*;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I fully and freely yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the Covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
*NOTE: “Put me to suffering” – does not mean that we are asking God to make us suffer! Rather it means that we are even willing so suffer if that is a consequence of being faithful.