What I Must Change

Certainly, this post was at least partly prompted by the incredible number of sad, tragic, and horrific events in my denomination.

For sure, the brutal reality of the calendar and my impending 63rd birthday caused me to pause and write this public missive.

But more, far more, has been the conviction of God’s Spirit in my life. While I have been prone to judge the fallen and the offenders in the melodrama of my denomination, God has reminded me again how fallen I am, how sinful I am, and how I am unworthy to cast the first stone.

It is perhaps for accountability, and perhaps for confession, that I write about changes I must make.

  • I must change and be more obedient in sharing the gospel. I exhort others to do so, but I am disobedient far too much myself.
  • I must change and increase my time in the Word and in prayer. Too often, I let the tyranny of the urgent replace the priority of time with God. If I sound foolish, it is because I am, and because I have been.
  • I must change how I seek my identity. My identity should be first in Christ. And my identity should also be as a family man. My greatest titles are “husband,” “Dad,” and “Rad Rad,” not “CEO” or “Dr. Rainer.” Too often I seek the accolades of others instead of pleasing Christ and serving my family.
  • I must change the depth and breadth of how I love my local church. I must serve with greater joy, give with greater commitment, and worship with greater abandon.
  • I must change my involvement in denominational politics. Indeed, I must flee from denominational politics. My involvement breaks my heart and hurts my soul.
  • I must change from a posture of silence to one of courage when others are hurt, marginalized, and abused. My silence is too often a deafening endorsement of injustice and wrongdoing.

This list is neither complete nor exhaustive. God is still working on me. He knows I need a lot of work. I am not sure what paths I will take in the weeks and months ahead, but I know I need to be on His path and not my own. I am no less a sinner subject to failure and to fall than anyone else.

I must change.

With the few years I have left, I must change.

Let me be clearer and more biblical: I must ask God to change me. It is not by my strength nor by my might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that I can change.

And then, and only then, will I dare to whisper, “My life was not lived in vain.”

Posted on June 4, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • I thought your recent stand along with Russell Moore in support of women suffering from abuse was courageous. Women are the heartbeat of our local churches and without their faith and support we might as well pack it up and go home. The ministry God has given you to assist churches is making a difference in our church. God bless you and your family.

  • Tom Harper says on

    Thanks for sharing this! Reading this was like breathing crisp, fresh air after being in polluted air!!

  • Echoing others. Change is essential and will happen, one way or the other. Intentional change can be painful but if evaluated and reflected upon will lead to stronger lives and ministries.

    A sage once told me, change only one thing at a time, lest you become overwhelmed by change. Give sufficient time to effect the change then step back and evaluate what happened. Did I achieve my intended goal? Am I on the path to where I hope to finish? Then effect other change.

    Managing change is the key – change will happen and if you let change manage change you lose your self in the process.


  • David K says on

    Dr. Rainer,
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your transparency and courage in sharing your inner thoughts.
    Your point on identity struck a powerful chord, resonating deep in my soul. Thank you for helping me remember the cruciality of founding myself in Christ and properly aligning my priorities. I am changed.

  • I’m turning 50 in November and these things have been on my mind. Thank you for your example.

  • John Willingham says on

    Dr. Rainer –

    I hope I didn’t read into your message about fleeing from denominational politics to mean you may be stepping down from your current post.

  • As I have said for many years now what Billy Graham was for Evangelism Dr. Rainer is for Leadership. Blessed once again by your courageous leadership Dr Rainer.

  • Todd K. says on

    Most of us dare not open that door within our soul Thom, but I am glad for all of our sakes that you did. Fortunately God keeps goading that man He wants us to be – to pound louder and insist on being released. What a joy to let that inner man come forth to live the simple truths of faith and embrace the Christian life, in submission to Jesus.

    Thanks for taking that “growth step” that God so often lays before us all, and for leading through brokenness.

  • John W. Carlton says on

    As I read this, 2 choruses came to mind. The first is, “Change my heart, O God; Make me ever true. Change my heart, O God, May I be like You. You are the Potter, I am the clay; Mold me and make me. This is what I pray.”
    The 2nd is a really old chorus that says, “Spirit of the living God, Fall fresh on me. Break me, Melt me, Mold me, Fill me. Spirit of the living God, Fall Fresh on me.”
    This time of conflict within our great Convention may be God breaking us and helping us to get our priorities straight.

  • Sam Dunn says on

    Fellow Christ-Follower (I avoided your other titles),
    My list happens to be encouragingly, yet sadly identical to yours. Thank you for always being transparent. Thank you for loving those who lead. Thank you for allowing and even inviting us along on your journey.

  • Betty OHearn says on

    Thank you for your words. Well stated. These unfortunate circumstances ring loud to me as I attended a church in SC where a woman was raped, and another was abused by her deacon husband. The pastor made the women feel like it was their fault. Accountability is primary here. We are accountable to Christ. Searching our hearts for how we can do better is primary.

  • Thank you Dr. Rainer, your words and heart came shining through. I think if I search my heart and get real, I too must make changes. Thanks you again and God bless our journey to draw near to Him.