The "Richard Petty Lane Change" Scenario

I had a friend in high school who was a genius with cars. His were fast, handled well, and sounded manly.


One night on our way home from a Josh McDowell lecture, my friend suddenly announced, “Hey — check out this Richard Petty Lane Change!”


Now, we drove together all the time and I knew what this meant. Still, these were the days before seat belts and a lurch is still a lurch no matter how prepared you are.

He yanked the wheel to the right and I sailed across the seat to the left, pinning my friend to the door. Which meant he couldn’t pull out of the Richard Petty Lane Change. Which meant we didn’t just change lanes, we crossed lanes and caught air by slamming up and over the curb.

The result was two front wheels pointing in different directions.

Remember that saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? A couple months later I was driving a pile of kids to an event. It was actually another friend’s car since I was the one with the license but he had a car. A fast car. That handled well. So well that I got caught up in the moment and shouted, “Hey, watch this!” As I jerked the wheel to the right, all the kids in the front seat came slamming to the left . . . which sent us off the road, through a drainage ditch, and up onto a berm separating the road from the swamp. It also separated the exhaust system from the bottom of the car.

So what does this have to do with students? I talked with a guy earlier this week who threw together some ambitious discipleship plans for his group. He got approval and people heard what he said. They had fair warning, you might say. But as soon as he launched his plans they came unglued and cried, “You can’t do that!” and things screeched to a halt.

Sudden changes in direction don’t always come off well. As tough as it is to plan, pray, communicate, test, and roll something out, there’s wisdom in it. There will still be resistance, but scattered opposition is nothing like a pile of bodies flying across the seat.

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