I have shared before, but Rich Marshall’s maxim is worth repeating. “The hardest changes are from God’s order to God’s new order.”
One of the reasons for this is the loss of social capital when we make dramatic changes.
What is social capital? Is is the intangible value of a period of stability in a community with the resulting ability to function collectively.
Take sports. You have a championship team. You replace two of those players with new players who are more talented. You have a net increase in TALENT on the team, but a dramatic decrease in the social capital of the team. The guys or gals who left had played with the team for years and had a huge conscious and subconscious data file about how the other people would act on the field or the court. This is social capital.
The longer a community is together, functioning in some level of teamwork, whether voluntary or involuntary, the more social capital you have.
In market terms, this is part of the value of your brand. Suppose you own a dry cleaning business. You have been there for 20 years and have a presence in the community. The “teamwork” is primitive. They drop off dirty clothes. You clean them on schedule. They pick them up.
Primitive or not, there is a huge piece of social capital there. Thousands of people know you, trust you, can build their schedule around your dependability, so they value you. I have gone through five dry cleaners in eight years before finding someone who is dependable. I can schedule a pick up at 8:00 a.m. on a day I am headed to the airport at 9:00 a.m. and know that the clothes will be done.
For you to close your business and move to a new town 100 miles away where no one knows you would represent a huge loss of social capital. In the new town, your skill would be just as good, your location might be better, but you would have to start all over again building relationships with the community.
And it is the value of that social capital that causes us to remain in a functional but marginal situation instead of stepping up to a new expression of God’s order. That is one reason why it is so hard to move from God’s order to God’s new order. Our social capital which is supposed to be an asset becomes a set of golden handcuffs.
Take SLG. I have a lot of social capital. People know me and come to our sundry sites for a variety of purposes. I have distributorships and employees and products and buildings, but most of all, favor.
Suppose God were to call me to shut this down and to move to an unpopulated mountain range where the land has huge spiritual significance. Suppose I was to assemble a small team of self-funded people with an anointing for land and to contend for that range until it was brought into alignment with the design of God.
And then, suppose God sent me back out to start another business similar to what I have now.
The modern mindset would howl in protest at abandoning the social capital we have now in order to start a new ministry for a couple of years and then start yet another new work when the land was in order. A thousand plans would leap to the front to preserve the social capital I have worked hard to accrue over 21 years.
But . . . that is simply another expression of the poverty spirit. God is quite able to resource us for as many start ups as He wants. We don’t have to frantically protect the social capital we have accrued over time.
I see this in the life of Joseph. He had some serious social capital. On the one hand, he was a poor carpenter. On the other hand, God Almighty called him a righteous man. Quite the stunning compliment from Someone who should know!!!
If the construction trade was as unholy back then as it is now, then Joseph’s brand in town as a righteous contractor would have been a huge part of his social capital. Whether people needed to use him at any given time or not, they trusted him and would use him sometime in the future because they would get a fair shake from him.
God calmly destroyed his social capital. The righteous man was deemed to have gotten his bride pregnant, so after all that, he wasn’t so righteous after all. Just another ordinary guy. At least that would have been the conclusion of the community.
God took him to Bethlehem next where he had less than no social capital! Couldn’t beg, borrow or finagle a room for a birth. That is hard.
He developed enough of a business there that he eventually had a house to live in. We don’t know whether it was all theirs or whether someone kindly allowed them to use a room in the back. But, that level of social capital was more than he came to town with. God opened some sort of door somewhere for him to rebuild.
And God calmly abandoned all that social capital in the middle of the night. Who knows how many people were offended because he did not finish their projects or show up to start one when promised. My guess is that his reputation took a big hit, and it would not have been viable to go back to Bethlehem for another business run because God trashed his reputation AGAIN.
God helped him restart in Egypt. Then pulled him out of Egypt.
He ended up in Nazareth restarting one more time, in a fairly tough place.
Some of you know this story because you have lived it. You have had to walk away from social capital so many times. At times it was clear that it was God, but some times, like fleeing from Bethlehem, it sure seemed as though it was the enemy who was robbing you of what you had built.
And it may have been.
The punch line is that God never runs out of capital to restart. Never.
When Jacob and family moved to Egypt, to the land of Goshen, it was a God-speed restart, in keeping with the Blessing of Egypt. Joseph sent a moving company to help his dad, and Pharaoh gave them a choice section of land thanks to some lobbying and coaching on the part of Joseph. A turbocharged restart.
Some of you are in a protracted season of restarts. Instead of grieving over the losses, start focusing on the treasures from the hand of God. If this season is graced with a God-speed flow of social capital from the hand of God, then overtly celebrate all of the dramatic ways in which He has given you the Blessing of Egypt to restart fast and successfully.
If you are having to restart without resources, then war against the Egyptian Curse which is slow walking the needed social capital you must have in order to restart with intensity. DON’T spend your days weeping over the lost social capital from yesterday. Look for the new stuff.
This was the first lesson God taught the Hebrews when they were released from the brickyards of Egypt. There they had stability and social capital. They were poor and had a lot of pain involved in their work, but they had social capital and knew where lunch and dinner were coming from each day.
In the wilderness there was no social structure of stores, and they couldn’t cook ahead except on Friday! Each woman had to restart her kitchen every morning, gathering food and water.
And the men had to restart the grazing and watering process for their cattle each day.
But the grace was there. The Hebrews appropriated the grace most of the time, but occasionally self-pity took over and they longed for Egypt where they had accumulated social capital and had the stability to build on it.
Once they had learned how to restart rapidly and smoothly (without the whinola) God eventually put them in a place where they could accrue more social capital, but they HAD to learn that lesson first.
So let us set our faces like flint. Instead of looking at the past and mourning what was taken away from us, let’s contend violently for the Blessing of Egypt in our lives for the current or future restart.
Here is the punch line. There are huge opportunities for people who are completely unfettered by their possessions. When a Noble Subject is nimble and can walk away from his assets in a heartbeat, God can use him or her in places others cannot go. These are precious, prized Subjects in the eyes of the King.
That is why Matthew’s story is such a stupendous lesson for us. He was a Giver, and Givers are designed by God to steward (and hold onto) their assets magnificently. Christ called him in a way that challenged the core of his design. “Literally walk away from your social capital and throw your lot in with me even though it means a total restart.”
The Giver did. And thereby proved himself to be a VERY Noble Subject. He was given the consummate honor of writing the first gospel and was THE apostle chosen to portray the Kingship of Jesus Christ.
So lean in with me. Let’s become a very nimble tribe, absolutely marinated in the Blessing of Egypt for rapid restarts as many times as God wants to discard our accrued social capital. Let us become a fantastically nimble tribe, available to do great exploits because we can count on the Blessing of Egypt to fund us in the moment, as we are racing after His agenda.
Copyright August 2015 by Arthur Burk
From LHR, Terminal 5