I submit that there are just three things changing everything and everyone. All change is a result of these three things at work: a story believed, habits practiced, and a community engaged and lived among. These three things shape everything and everyone, regardless of worldview. This applies to whatever object the change is happening to, whether it’s just one person or group of people.


Triangle of Transformation Screenshot


This idea of a triangle of transformation comes from James Bryan Smith. In his Good and Beautiful Apprentice Series Smith says our lives (habits), inside God’s story (narrative), in relationship with those around us (others) is the context for all transformation (change).

1. Narrative.

There are two narratives in the universe: truth and lies. Actually, there is only one narrative in the universe (some choose not to live within that narrative). God’s narrative is also known as reality. Truth is reality, and reality is the way things really are. God’s story is the only reality there is. That is the narrative we have all been placed within. If a person isn’t working off that script, that person is not of the truth. Someone can choose not to work from that script, but that is separate from reality. Therefore, by default, a person lives within a false narrative, also known as lies.

2. Habits.

There are two types of habits: good ones and bad ones. A life is made up of what one does. What a person does form habits. Habits are simply what we practice in life. Romans 12:1 is often quoted for its beautiful call to offering one’s life as a form of worship. In reality, every life is an act of worship. Every life is a liturgy. Who you are, who you understand yourself to be, and the practices you take part in based upon who you think you are, all combine in this liturgy. The sticking point is whether that life is worshipping what is true or false. Your life, what you do, is either bringing you into closer alignment with reality, aka truth, God’s story or taking you further away from it.

3. Other people.

There are two types of people: negative and positive. One way to view community and engagement with others is as swirling liturgies all around us. Everyone else is either working off God’s script or choosing to ignore it. If a person is not confident in God’s narrative and living good habits, the negative influence of others cannot be weathered. Someone has said, ”Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”


Triangle of Transformation Gone Wrong


The tough part is none of these three are static tracks. That is, no one person or group operates continuously in the same narrative, with the same habits, or as the same person. For example, a person acts in once instance believing the truth and is then faced with another circumstance and acts in that instance believing a lie.


Often leaders are driven by the question: How do you get those people to change? That question could originate from within the leader or imposed by others around them. But if the above paradigm is accepted, that is the wrong question. The appropriate question is What is the leader’s contribution to God’s narrative, good habits, and “positive” community?


Test this out in whatever situation you’re experiencing change. What narrative is being believed? What habits are being engaged that align with God’s narrative? Are other people engaging in habits that align with God’s narrative?


Triangle of Transformation Gone Right


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