What If?



With so many issues swirling around, it would be helpful if we could learn to set aside our individualistic and competitive tendencies and learn to work together without thinking we need to be in charge or take the credit for every idea we toss out there.


It would mean we would need to do more of that upstream thinking I wrote about recently after reading Dan Heath’s book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. He devotes a whole chapter on the subject of “How Will You Unite the Right People?”


Sounds like a great idea, right? With the rampant amount of division in every area we see today, that would be an incredible accomplishment.


Dan Heath suggests the place to start:


“Each one of them gets a role. Given that your progress may hinge on people’s voluntary effort, it’s smart to maintain a big tent.”


But it isn’t just that more people are better.


“To succeed in upstream efforts, you need to surround the problem. Meaning you need to attract people who can address all the key dimensions of the issue.”

“Once you’ve surrounded the problem, then you need to organize all those people’s efforts. And you need an aim that’s compelling and important – a shared goal that keeps them contributing even in stressful situations…” Dan Heath



Can you imagine what would happen if we lay aside all our territorialism in just about every aspect of our lives in such a way?  What all might be accomplished in medicine, engineering, government, missions, and more.


I think Paul of New Testament fame understood that without ever reading Dan Heath’s informative book. He makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 12:


“12 Just as the human body is one, though it has many parts that together form one body, so too is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body. And no matter our status—whether we are Jews or non-Jews, oppressed or free—we are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (TPT)


And then he adds this great metaphor:


“17 Think of it this way. If the whole body were just an eyeball, how could it hear sounds? And if the whole body were just an ear, how could it smell different fragrances? 18 But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. 19 A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be a body at all! 20 So now we see that there are many differing parts and functions, but one body.”

1 Corinthians 12: 17-19 (TPT)


Paul then shows how well he understands mankind by exhorting them not to compete about which parts are most needed or valuable. He certainly had all that right, but whether in the world or the church it often seems we didn’t get that message (at least we didn’t apply it if we heard or taught it).


One big obstacle deals with how little humility is evident in most of our lives and the kind of thinking and team building that Dan Heath talks about requires humility.

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There’s that sticky issue again that we all too often stumble over. Every Christian author since the canon of scripture was closed has written on the subject to remind us of that essential quality of character.


“Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” 

Andrew Murray


“Every Christian has a choice between being humble or being humbled.”

Charles Spurgeon


So, what if?


What if we each stopped looking at that other person, organization, business, club, politician, pastor, etc. as not pulling us together in unity and looked first at ourselves and how we play a part in disunity?


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12 thoughts on “What If?

  1. I have asked this same what if question a million times and have sat in quiet contemplation imagining what a beautiful world it would be if we could set aside our judgments and accept our opinions as opinions and not absolute certainties. So many people act as experts on all things and I am just sitting around feeling peacefully ignorant. This is a great post and such wonderful food for thought. What if???


    1. Thanks, as always, for your kind words of encouragement. The time you take to comment always blesses me. Hope you have a sunny weekend with more than a few glimpses of things that delight your hesrt💕

  2. Whew! This is very convicting. Change starts with us and not hoping the other person will step up first. Humility has been referenced a lot recently as we face a new way of living. I am praying I continue to reach out just because it’s the right thing to do.

    1. I think these are lessons we all likely need to learn and relearn. This time of being shut in has brought about new convictions more than a few times and I think the Lord is using this time for us to show us more about Him and ourselves if we will take time to tune in. Life is definitely not like normal now and doesn’t seem to be turning back to whatever normal was any time soon.

      Had a delightful time on a virtual tea hosted for a writer from the UK this week with a few other writers/bloggers – my “outing” for the week.

      I am sure you are blessed to be an Ohioan and the exemplary way our governor and Dr Amy Acton is leading us.

      Be safe and healthy, Mary, and thanks for stopping by😊

  3. I so love Paul’s metaphor as the church being like a body! It so true, the body can only work efficiently if it has all its parts, even the “behind the scenes” parts. Everyone is needed.

    Love the Andrew Murray quote!

  4. Thank you for your thoughts, Pam. There is an organization in our area which put out a call for anyone who wants to join them in a “virtual” walk. This got me thinking because of our homeschool days. We started logging the miles we walked (for PE, of course) on a large graph with the intent to “virtually” walk across America. We added to it year after year … when we remembered to, that is. We never did make it very far from our hometown, but it was fun. After those years were gone, I considered doing my own virtual walk across America and blogging about it (places of interest, devotional thoughts, etc.). That’s in the process right now, but we’ll see where it goes (maybe just to the local bookstore to buy a book on America! LOL!)

    However, in reference to your post, the organization said people could form teams to do this walk. The way it would happen is for each of us to log our walking miles between the dates given, no matter where or how long we walked. We’d get sponsors to make pledges. It sounds like my kind of thing. I can no longer do long walks. Two miles is taxing on my knees and feet, though I can make four if I push. Doing that every day, though, and adding it up could make a nice amount. And the idea of gathering a team to do it intrigues me. I’m thinking of making a Facebook group to encourage each other in this endeavor. Our unity could bring great benefits to us and the organization. Blessings!

    1. Sounds fascinating!! Hoping our OH weather improves so I can walk more in our neighborhood. We have had a lot of rain. Keep us posted on what you decide.

  5. Great quotes. Especially love this one: “All that’s required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” If we haven’t learned how to work together from what we’re currently facing, then God help us! We need each other. Each of us is built differently and brings different gifts, talents and abilities to the table. Embracing each other is the way to go. We can all learn from each other if we’re willing.

  6. Amen to this, Pam. I’m happy that at least 20 different churches are working together in our community to feed our school children who can no longer get free meals at school during the shut-down. These churches are not publicizing their names, rather all I know is they say they are “the” church acting, not “a” church with individual names.

    I’m still reading through Upstream myself. I’m enjoying it so much.

    1. Great example and illustration! We see it here and there. Times like these bring out the best or worst in people and organizations, businesses, etc.

      Today at our governors news conference at 2PM that he is doing every day, we heard how th incarcerated in OH are making gowns for healthcare professionals as well as shields. Innovations coming together in ways that no one might have expected. Have been excited about the innovation I see in places.

      I loved Upstream and glad you are enjoying it as well. Will look forward to your review when you finish.

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