Transactional Living or Transformational Living?
By Ed Delph
March 21, 2022
One of my favorite authors is Laurie Beth Jones. In her book entitled, Teach Your Team to Fish, she talks about the difference between a transaction and a transformation. Let’s glean from Laurie on this crucial subject that can make a difference in our lives.
“Transactions are lateral exchanges between people - be it goods or services. Transactions occur every time two people engage in commerce of any kind. I give you this in exchange for that. Transactions are obvious and lateral, commonplace, and easy to spot. In contrast, transformations are invisible, uplifting, transcendent experiences that involve a fundamental shift or change.”
In other words, when you go to the grocery store, a transaction occurs when they give you groceries, and you give them money. You go out the same way you came in. Transactions are necessary but not necessarily transformational.
Most people are looking for transformations rather than transactions. The person who buys drugs is looking for a transformation, but they get a transaction. After the buzz, they are, at best, still the same. Jones says, "Women are looking for transformations when they buy mascara or makeup. They want to move from feeling plain to feeling beautiful. But the transformation does not take place by adding new clothes to paper dolls. Transformation is truly an inside job." She is correct.
Here is an example of the difference between a transaction and a transformation.
One weekend, an old farmer went to the city and attended the big city church. He came home, and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "it was good. However, they did something different. They sang some praise choruses instead of hymns." "Praise choruses?" asked his wife. "What are praise choruses like?" "Oh, they're OK. They're like hymns, only different," said the farmer. "How are praise choruses different?” asked the wife.
The farmer replied, "Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you, 'Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh MARTHA, MARTHA, MARTHA – the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS, are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn…are…in…the …corn….THE CORN!!!' Well, now that would be a Praise Chorus."
That’s not a slam on hymns. That’s what happens when songs come from the inside rather than outside of a person. Churches, businesses, organizations, governments, and schools who discover the paradigm of transformation will be leaders in their fields in today's transformation-starved world.
The Scriptures share an encounter with Jesus and a woman at a well. The woman had come to the well for a simple transaction - getting water in her bucket. Jesus turned this simple exchange into a transformational experience for her.
"A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus, being weary from his journey, said to her, 'Give me a drink,' for his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to him, "How is that you, being a religious man, ask for a drink from me, a woman?” Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’”
After a few more rounds of discussion, the woman went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me everything I did. Then they went out of the city and came to him.” Essentially, she said, "Men, come see a real man!" That's still true today.
Jones summarizes the transformation concept for us. “In this quiet exchange, which could have lasted only a few minutes, the woman received several transformations: 1) A new self-image, from an undesirable outsider to an insider. 2) From a lowly woman not to be addressed to an equal associate worthy of lengthy attention. 3) From an outcast to a newly forgiven team member whose heart was truly known. 4) From someone who was bound to dust to someone with a new destiny.
A shy woman, head down, seeking water, was transformed into an emboldened champion, urging everyone she knew to look up and see a fundamental transformation that was about to occur.
Jesus' team witnessed the effect of this transformation. It was one of many they were to see. In fact, Jesus recruited the first of his team members by promising them transformations, not transactions. ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ It was such a powerful one that they gave up the only work they had ever known to begin work they’d never imagined.”
Whether it was 5000 people listening to Him on a mountainside, a mother-in-law with a fever, or twelve frustrated disciples looking for purpose, Jesus turned boring transactions into life-elevating transformations. Jesus taught transformations, not transactions. Jesus makes the transformers in that movie look like beginners.
Successful teams, leaders, and everyday people are those that understand the desired product is transformation, not mere transactions. Next week, I’ll share some transformational examples you can apply to make your life more ‘transformational.’
By the way, here’s a question for you. Can an egg fly? Yes, after it’s transformed.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com