Personal Transformation
Pam Gross
May 10, 2020

This morning I am talking about personal transformation and I’m basing my sermon on the Gospel of Thomas who claims “Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

If that statement isn’t a shove toward personal transformation, I don’t what is!  Jesus understood that there was much more to human beings than they realized..that people are more talented and smarter than they believe themselves to be..that they have more to give to the world than they are giving… and that if they “mined” themselves and pulled out all the goodness inside that they would not only be happier but that those around them would be happier too and they just might discover new ways to make a living!

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Transformation, according to Webster means Any extreme or radical change for the better. Let’s look at ‘Radical’. It is Greek in origin and it means ‘arising from or going to the root, or source or center. The springtime we are enjoying right now is stunning with lush blooming of beautiful trees and flowers. What is their source? The dirt in which they are planted. Where are the carrots, radishes, onions?…they are radical plants. We don’t see them because they grow down into their source rather than up from it.

To enjoy them we must dig down and pull them up.

Sounds a little like ‘bringing forth what is within you’ doesn’t it?

As many of you know, I have been in the Career Biz for 30+ years. What you may not know is that I was transformed from a public school English teacher to a teacher of career change methods to adults. Did I have the degrees and certificates required to do career counseling? No. Did I have the business background to run a nonprofit organization? No.

I had Southminster.

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Jim Petersen, pastor here for 30+ years wrote, as part of his personal mission statement: “I want to help people find themselves and relate better to themselves, others, the world… and to God.” So, When I and Diana Cleland approached Jim with a proposal to start a nonprofit to help people who were out of work find new employment, Jim and people of the Southminster community made it happen… and The Employment Connection (CareerMakers) was birthed in1982. Since that time I have counseled hundreds of very capable and savvy people and taught classes on the ‘stuff’ of job/career transitions: resumes, interviewing, networking, skills and values assessment, etc. And, while everyone learned a lot and most used their newly acquired skills to get a new job, there were also those who were transformed by the CareerMakers process. They went deep inside and brought forth new and exciting things about themselves. They became open to new and exciting possibilities. They became radical in big and small ways and I want to share some of those transformations with you now.

At CareerMakers on the first day of every class, the attendees introduced themselves to their classmates, and on the last day of class, they shared what was the most important thing they learned. Since the class lasted two weeks, the folks were together for ten days from 9 – 4 and they had a pile of homework every night… An immersive experience.

~ The first day of one class two women showed up together. [About 30] One stood to introduce herself and said, “I’m Suzy and I’m here with my partner in business and in life. We are here to learn more about ourselves and also how to network better to grow our business.” Next, a man stood up, said: “my name is Joe I’m a Baptist minister and I’m here to learn what other possibilities might be out there for me.”

~ On the last day of class, Joe said to Suzy and her partner, “I don’t understand your lifestyle and I don’t know if I’ll ever condone it, but I want you to know that I’ve come to love you.”

~ The first day and the last day. Kinda uppity… On the first day of introductions, it was clear to me that I had nothing in common with the rest of you. As of today, I want you to know that each of you will impact how I make decisions for the rest of my life.

~ The first day and the last day. Woman… talking directly to a classmate. On the first day of class, you told us you were commuting from Lincoln City to be here every morning at 9:00. Then driving home, doing homework, etc… I want you to know that you were my model during the past two weeks. If you could do that and be prepared every day, congenial, upbeat, helpful with others, I could certainly go home (about 15 minutes) do my homework and show up too!

~ And the ever-popular!

It usually happened sometime during the second week of class during a break. A fellow would come up to me look around furtively and say, “I bet you don’t know what my wife (girlfriend or partner) said to me last night.” After hearing the question many times over the years, my reply was, “Yes I do know. She said, “You know, you’re like the guy I married in the first place.”

That’s transformation in process. It’s contagious.

In fact, one day my colleague, Anne Hudson, reported that she had been accosted by a woman at an event. As Anne was conversing with someone, a woman intervened by throwing her arms around Anne giving her a huge hug as she sobbed through tears, “Thank you for giving me back my husband!!” I would say her husband experienced transformation at CareerMakers and that her life had been greatly enhanced… because that is the lovely by-product of transformation: The people you love and share your life with are happier too. Transformation is contagious.

Of course, there were also those who made radical career changes… As I’ve said… transformation is contagious.

  • Ron Gross, District Manager in finance (Household Finance) to Owner of Mt. Hood Woodworking
  • Annie C., Ph.D. in Mathematics (Intel) to full-time artist
  • Jeanne C.,  Certified Public Accountant to Airline Pilot

And the Last… most radical career transition….

Jesus of Nazareth, Carpenter Apprentice to Son of God who brought forth what was within him and changed the world! And left us with, “You will do greater things than I” and I would add: but first you have to get radical… get down there, figure it out.

Amen